Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2014

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LAS VEGAS CITY HALL:

Auditor finds fault in oversight of consultants

Contract monitoring policy suggested for second time, said to be in the works

Consultants hired by the city of Las Vegas may be doing their jobs effectively, but that’s almost impossible to know because the city has done such a poor job of monitoring its contracts with them.

That’s just one of the conclusions reached in reports released recently by the city auditor’s office.

The reports also found that the city was billed by one contractor for work not yet performed, and that another consultant didn’t have a license to do business either with the city or Nevada, a clear contract violation.

“It’s not to say that these groups didn’t do the work for us,” City Auditor Radford Snelding said. “But we need to tighten up how we handle these contracts a lot better.”

One of the two reports involved a three-year, $469,500 contract with Ostrovsky & Associates to lobby for the city during the past two legislative sessions.

The other report involved Delphi Research of Nevada, which is in the middle of a three-year contract for $157,056 to promote a program called “Batteries Included” aimed at improving high school graduation rates.

In both reports, the auditor’s office expressed concern that “a comprehensive, written contract monitoring policy and procedure does not exist.” Without such a policy, properly enforced, contractors’ responsibilities may not be fully known, and they may not be following standards of performance.

The auditor recommended that the city manager’s office ensure that staffers be trained to monitor such contracts, and that reports are prepared to document the contractor’s performance.

According to the reports, the same recommendations had been made to the city manager’s office. Staffers are working on a new procedure and should have it in place by the end of the year, auditors said.

In the Ostrovsky audit, the auditor noted that invoices were sent to the city for the month before the completion of services. “The effect is the City was billed in advance,” the auditors wrote.

And, required liability and workers’ compensation insurance for the Ostrovsky group, which is headed by longtime lobbyist Bob Ostrovsky, could not be verified for a period during its contract.

In response to the audit’s findings, city officials promised that city purchasing staff will work to ensure that all required insurance is received before extending or renegotiating such contracts.

In the case of Delphi Research, operated by Donald Anderson, the auditors found that the group did not possess city or state business licenses — something mandated in the city’s professional services contracts.

Delphi responded by noting that it had filed for a state license, and was “committed to securing” a city license as well.

Anderson said that he has had positive dealings with the city, and that whenever a contractual mistake or omission was brought to his attention, he quickly took care of it.

“It wasn’t like I was the bad guy, there were just some oversights,” he said.

Ostrovsky could not be reached for comment.

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