Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Controller Says Alcosan Improving on Hiring, Procurement Procedures

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Controller Says Alcosan Improving on Hiring, Procurement Procedures

Article excerpt

As the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority plans for billions of dollars of federally mandated work to eliminate sewage overflows during wet weather, there remains a "pay-to-play" perception in hiring and procurement at the agency, the city controller said Wednesday.

Controller Michael Lamb said an audit shows Alcosan has made strides in improving record-keeping and contracting procedures in recent years, but more needs to be done.

"There's this continuing perception that everything at Alcosan is pay-to-play, whether it's contracting, whether it's personnel, hiring, any of these issues," Mr. Lamb said. "We wanted to get in and make sure these procedures are in place because we know that Alcosan's going to grow over the next 20 years.

"And so, while we didn't find evidence of it, it clearly is a perception and it's a perception they need to deal with. The best way to deal with that perception is to shine a light on everything they do. . I think the leadership right now at Alcosan is very much on the same page."

Mr. Lamb's latest examination of Alcosan was limited in scope, focusing mainly on the status of recommendations outlined in a 2009 joint audit conducted by his office and the county controller.

The 2009 audit centered on procurement practices for professional service, construction materials and commodities contracts and produced 12 recommendations. They included revising contract-award and bid-evaluation procedures, creating a system for numbering and tracking professional service contracts - which are not required to be given to the lowest responsible bidder - and improving record- keeping for those contracts.

In response, the authority created a records and documentation manager position and tasked the manager with creating a numbering system to organize and identify contract files and a checklist to ensure the award process is followed.

"We're talking about really the biggest infrastructure project in the history of this county," Mr. …

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