Was Delta tunnels contract a scam?

The Delta tunnels project was just gaining steam, and a San Francisco engineering firm had outbid its competitors to win a $60 million, seven-year state contract to help plan the project.

But officials at the California Department of Water Resources weren’t happy with a manager that the company, URS Corp., had assigned to help oversee the planning process.

What the state did next was the focus of a highly critical state audit released Thursday. State Auditor Elaine Howle charged that DWR directed URS in 2009 to replace its employee with the president of a Sacramento consulting firm that lacked the qualifications to do the job, in what amounted to a no-bid multimillion-dollar contract that ran afoul of state contracting laws intended to ensure public dollars aren’t being wasted on unqualified firms.

A whistleblower cited in the audit raised questions about whether DWR – an agency in charge of overseeing billions of dollars of state water infrastructure as well as Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17.1 billion tunnels project – is routinely giving sweetheart no-bid deals to contractors without vetting them.

Source: Delta tunnels audit faults lack of economic analysis | The Sacramento Bee


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