Las Vegas Sun

April 25, 2014

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College tightens its oversight of construction

The College of Southern Nevada is stepping up oversight of maintenance and construction work following reports by the Sun about alleged abuses at the school.

Patty Charlton Dayar, vice president of finance, said she is taking steps to improve the way the college tracks construction work by outside companies. Also, Jeffery Foshee, vice president of administration, has put a new computing system in place to report and track repair and maintenance requests.

Dayar provided the Sun with a form letter sent to contractors in late June requiring more detail in invoices. Companies must include the date, campus, description of work performed and hours worked on each invoice. Companies also are to identify the CSN employee who supervised the work.

The invoices also must describe the use of any equipment and the hours of use and rates.

If laborers are involved, invoices must show the number of workers at each skill level and the hourly rate. Materials used must include specific measurements and costs, as well as quality specifications.

"We've asked for much more detail, and that has been inserted into all new contracts," Dayar said. "I thought it was already being done."

The letters went out to several companies, including Inline Inc. , WGDL and Southern Nevada Construction, previously known as Universal Paving. The Sun found that all three companies worked at the college and at the estate of college construction chief Bob Gilbert. All three are among the highest-paid outside vendors for the facilities, operations and maintenance department, according to new data Dayar provided to the Sun.

Southern Nevada Construction/Universal Paving took in about $1.2 million a year - three times the $400,000 annual limit for one company. The only facilities vendor to be paid more during the past two years is Nevada Power Co .

Former and current employees have accused Gilbert of using his position to arrange sweetheart deals with contractors who helped build his personal ranch estate off Kyle Canyon Road. The Nevada attorney general's office raided college offices, Gilbert's ranch and WGDL in June as part of a criminal investigation.

Gilbert has denied all allegations of wrongdoing, as has WGDL principal Warren Hafen and Inline owner Ron Peck. The owners of Southern Nevada Construction and the former Universal Paving have declined to comment.

Gilbert is now on leave, which college officials say is to recover from shoulder surgery.

Although Dayar would not discuss the allegations against Gilbert because of the investigation, she acknowledged that previous invoices from the three companies were vague.

WGDL and Southern Nevada Construction/Universal Paving submitted invoices without documenting the date or work accomplished, Dayar said. That made it impossible for anyone other than Gilbert's office to verify that work the college paid for had been done.

Dayar said she had no knowledge that those companies were also contracted to perform work at Gilbert's ranch until the Sun reported it in March. She said she also was not aware that Inline was hiring college employees on the side for work the company was doing on contract for the college, as the Sun reported in July.

Both practices are prohibited under the contracts the companies signed with the college, Dayar said. A clause in the contract intended to bar collusion requires contractors to verify that they have not had contact with any CSN employee that could give them an advantage over another contractor. Employees, likewise, cannot accept compensation or have any vested interest, direct or indirect, in the company bidding for work, Dayar said.

Dayar said the companies still have contracts with CSN.

Interim CSN President Michael Richards said college officials had taken action, including closing some contracts, when circumstances showed that collusion occurred. He would not be more specific.

Richards inherited the problems this summer when former CSN President Richard Carpenter left to take a job in Houston . Carpenter told the Sun earlier this year that an internal investigation into Gilbert's activities found no actionable offense.

Richards said the college is waiting for the results of the attorney general's investigation before deciding on possible additional steps. He said Gilbert's future with the college will be discussed when he returns from leave.

An example of the concerns over invoices is found in $370,000 paid for work done by Southern Nevada Construction/Universal Paving on the telecommunications building on the Cheyenne campus.

Most of the work was to pave a nearby parking lot, according to invoices provided to the Sun by the state Public Works office. The invoices do not offer any details about the work accomplished or the date the work was done.

The invoices list use of equipment, such as six 10-wheel trucks that Universal Paving/Southern Nevada Construction does not appear to own, CSN employees told the Sun, speaking confidentially. Employees provided the Sun with 105 dated pictures showing Universal Paving doing work at CSN during the past few years. The photos show the same seven pieces of equipment again and again - and no 10-wheel trucks.

The invoice for WGDL is also vague. The company, which provides laborers to the college as needed, submitted one invoice for hours worked on the telecommunications building at the Cheyenne campus and the science building at the West Charleston campus. The invoice lists only an hourly rate and total hours worked - 1,442 hours on the telecommunications building and 1,164 hours at the science building, all at $43.66 an hour. The total bill: $113,777.96.

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