Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One Proposal, Two Companies Seek City Water Audit

By Lisa E. Crowley
The BrocktonPost
BROCKTON--Two consultants have combined to submit the only proposal for an audit requested by city officials to review the embattled water and sewer department.
Chief Procurement Officer Michael Morris said Wednesday Framingham-based The Abrahams Group and Woodard and Curran, of Dedham, have submitted a combined proposal to complete the audit--the only submission received for the job.
"The idea, I guess, is they thought it was better to team up," Morris said.
Morris said it was not a surprise the two companies paired up for the proposal because the specifications for submission called for the "lead" to focus on accounting while another area calls for review of engineering and similar expertise.
Also, during a question-and-answer session held Friday, Oct. 22, The Abrahams Group and Woodard and Curran were two of four firms who expressed interest in submitting proposals.
At the meeting a representative from Woodard and Curran said the company was there in partnership with The Abrahams Group.
Proposals were due at City Hall Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The other two companies did not submit proposals.
The audit is the result of questions that arose during the summer over what some say are outrageously high water bills.
Nearly 70 residents protested their bills during a rally in August.
Mayor Linda Balzotti had proposed hiring an auditing firm--The Abrahams Group--under her authority as mayor to pin-point some of the problems and make changes, if necessary.
However, the City Council wanted to conduct an audit also, but through the Request for Proposals process because councilors like Thomas Brophy believed the RFP process would be more transparent and offer competition for the audit.
Since, residents have filed complaints about their water bills with the State Inspector General's office and have charged the Water Commission with violating the Open Meeting Law over the billing problem.
Morris said the next step in the RFP process is for the city's recently formed audit review committee to go over the submission and make a recommendation to accept the proposal and hire the two firms or reject it.
He said the committee is not obligated to accept the proposal because it is the only one.
The committee includes Chief Financial Officer John Condon and City Councilor Thomas Brophy.
Morris said the audit review committee will not meet in public and the proposal is not open to public view until the committee decides to accept it.
"It's completely confidential," Morris said.
Morris said the submission also includes a cost estimate, however the proposed cost envelope--so to speak--is not opened until after the audit review committee accepts the submission.
That is, if the audit review committee accepts it.
If the audit review committee rejects the proposal from The Abrahams Group and Woodard and Curran, Morris said the cost proposal is never opened.
City Chief Financial Officer Condon has estimated the audit to cost about $100,000.

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