Thursday, January 24, 2008

CH2M Hill accused of ripping off LA

The Los Angeles Times says that CH2M Hill, one of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's largest contractors and a firm that has been very, very generous to Gov. Jim Doyle -- firm officials even attended a fundraiser for Doyle while in the midst of negotiating a huge transportation planning contract -- has been accused of ripping off the LA Department of Water and Power to the tune of $7.7 million.

According to the Times:

Last May, an independent audit identified what appeared to be another case of a well-connected DWP contractor bilking money - some $3.3 million on a $96 million contract - for dust-mitigation work in the Owens Valley.

Now, City Controller Laura Chick has released an audit that arrives at similar conclusions, albeit a different dollar amount. According to Chick, CH2M Hill, a Denver-based engineering firm, overbilled or was overpaid some $7 million on some spotty work it oversaw for the DWP...

Now it is conceivable, we suppose, that all this overpaying is entirely the fault of an unscrupulous contractor, and that the DWP itself and city leaders bear no culpability except, perhaps, for inadequate oversight.

But that seems highly doubtful in light of the Fleishman-Hillard scandal. There, too, a well connected contractor collected millions more than it was due. And the similarities don't end there.

Both contracts were with large firms that do a lot of business headed up by political players with extensive access to City Hall. Both firms have also given generously to the campaigns of the city's top politicians.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

CH2M Hill has a reputation for ripping off taxpayers during government contracts. They pad their costs and overrun their bids and expect the government to give in, because it's easier and less costly to give in than to fight. They tried something similar with the San Diego County Water Authority, but it looks as if they may not get away with it.