Couch reports that through September 2012, $153,835,863 has been spent by the CRC project office. Of this, $104,252,228 or 67.77% has been paid to a single vendor: David Evans and Associates.
The report first calls into question current CRC accounting practices that do not provide basic accounting-type reports and the fact that federal regulations require that “fiscal controls and accounting procedures must be sufficient to permit preparation of reports.”
The report raises significant concerns about the CRC project office’s contracting practices involving David Evans and Associates, the project’s “general contractor”. While Couch cites federal regulations that require the CRC project office to review “statements of qualifications” (bids) from three potential vendors, it appears only a single vendor, David Evans and associates was considered. Couch elaborates on the CRC project office’s potential “organizational conflict of interest” with David Evans and associates and whether increasing costs as a result of potential design errors attributable to the David Evans contract have been quantified and possibly reimbursed to the State of Washington.
Ms. Couch raised similar questions in a previous report released in January 2012. However, since the release of that intital report, new evidence has surfaced which reveal critical missteps by the CRC Project Office as it relates to their contracting and accounting policies. Citing specific bylaws within the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Consultant Services Manual, the report highlights several state and federal regulations which may have been violated.
Of note (and not mentioned in previous reports) is Ms. Couch’s finding that “the WSDOT has potential recourse against a consultant when it is discovered that errors or omissions are discovered.” Two publicly acknowledged design flaws are then outlined, namely the Expert Review Panel’s findings which nixed the CRC’s proposed design as well as the bridge height problem that has barred the project from obtaining a critical Coast Guard permit. Ms. Couch’s report then recommends “that the reasons for these design errors should be identified and that any costs of these errors attributable to David Evans and Associates be quantified and repaid to the State of Washington.”
The balance of the report centers on the current budget and oversight practices of the CRC Project Office. It specifically calls into question how the David Evans and Associates “Maximum Amount Payable” contract was allowed to balloon from $50 million initially to a current value of $131.2 million (representing an increase of $81.2 million or 162%); how multiple Task Orders appear to have been budgeted for duplicative work; and how recent Task Orders and Amendments (i.e. change orders) have lacked proper oversight. The report goes on to quantify these budget irregularities and the staggering cost overruns of each. Ms. Couch released her whitepaper report and supporting documents to multiple local, state and federal authorities on October 12, 2012 saying “It is my opinion that the significant questionable contracting practices and cost overruns on the CRC project warrant a full investigation by an appropriate agency.”
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Tiffany Couch, Owner of Vancouver, WA Forensic Accounting Firm, Acuity Group PLLC authorizes interested parties to publish the attached forensic accounting analysis (including report and exhibits) related to the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project. This report focuses on significant CRC project costs taking place outside of the proposed bridge influence area, namely for a maintenance facility in Gresham, Oregon and upgrades to the Steel Bridge in Portland, Oregon.
We recommend that legislators and participating government agencies fully investigate the questions identified in this report.
Any inquiries related to the attached should be directed to the following:
Acuity Group PLLC
1603 Officers Row
Vancouver WA 98661