It never ends.
Illinois Auditor General William Holland said Tuesday he will forward to state and federal investigators a scathing audit accusing state transportation officials of mismanagement and questionable spending for public relations and minority recruitment on the Dan Ryan Expressway reconstruction project.
Holland’s audit of the Illinois Department of Transportation, first detailed by the Tribune, questioned nearly $500,000 in expenses and billings by politically connected advertising firms dealing with community outreach, as well as an additional $200,000 for minority support and employment in the early stages of the project.
The audit also questioned the effectiveness of recruiting minority and female workers for the project. In the last half of 2005, the state paid $348,000 to Target Group for equal-employment opportunity support, but the firm recruited only five workers, auditors said. Holland also questioned $150,000 in payments to the firm, saying it lacked backup documentation. […]
Instead of a normal procedure in which a selection panel ranks potential contractors, auditors said they discovered an e-mail indicating that Robin Black, formerly IDOT’s chief of staff, played a major role in how E.Morris Communications and Universal MazJac Enterprises Inc. were scored.
“After my discussions with Robin, this is what I came up with for points. Does this look OK?” John Werthwein, an operations analysis manager in IDOT’s bureau of budget and fiscal management, wrote to three selection panel members in an e-mail obtained by auditors. Black was a member of the selection panel, but Werthwein was not.
The full report can be found on this page.
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While awaiting an appointment at the Capitol, IDOT Secretary Tim Martin declined to answer any questions about Holland’s audit without a spokesman present, saying there was no one there to protect his “interests.” […]
Holland questioned a $3,494 IDOT payment to Ashley for Morrow’s health insurance premiums. There were numerous instances when the state was overbilled for Morrow’s services, including last March when he submitted time sheets reflecting 66 hours of Ashley work. IDOT was billed for 152 hours at a cost of $4,539.
Ashley submitted a $26 voucher to the state to cover a half-hour conversation Morrow had with a firm concerning tax appeals and low-interest loan programs — issues that did not appear to have anything to do with work notifying the public about the Dan Ryan and Kingery projects.
Ashley sought a $105 reimbursement for an employee who spent two hours of her time attending a “Women in Transportation Dinner” honoring former IDOT chief of staff Robin Black, who resigned last year.
The company also submitted more than $25,000 in questionable billings for the purchase of promotional items and involvement in the Billiken parade and $220 in billings for 1,080 custom tattoos that Holland said were shipped to the office of Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd).