More Overpriced Payees for the City?
In 2003 the City of Augusta did a wise thing in a very foolish way. The administration saw an enormous upswing in capital spending that it lacked the staff and expertise to plan, engineer, procure, manage and control. A large, growing, and respected Atlanta-based firm, Heery International was selected to perform these functions. The strategy was sound.
The execution was horrible.
This blanket order was executed with 4% annual rate increases mandated. Despite the downturn in construction and the overall economy, in which labor, overhead and profit have tended to fall, the compounding of Heery's rates continued unabated. The rates established for next year are up an incredible 48% over the initial rates. A Principle in Charge then was $162.16 an hour, this year one is $230.81 and next year it would be $240.04. A project manager then was $87.32. Now one is $124.28, rising to $129.25 next year. An administrative assistant went from $42.41 to $62.78 an hour.
The cumulative effects are stunning. In July 2010 the contract was extended to 2013. At the time, the contract price was raised from $7,082,355 to $10,317,906.
Amazingly, the total overhead and fee in RW Allen's contract to build and equip the entire Tee Center is $1.8 million, while Heery's program management fees will top $1.2 million. There is another $1.3 million slated for the Webster Detention Center Phase II. The Reynolds Street Parking Deck is a surprising $549,390.
A defense can be made that division of duties between the construction management firms and Heery reduced the costs of the former. That is a valid point. The difference in rates probably negates a lot of this advantage, however.
A fairly common approach is for the hourly rate for such services to be based upon some verifiable figure, usually the salary rate of the employee divided by 2080 (52 weeks, 40 hours per week) times a multiplier that is negotiated. 2.0 to 2.3 is a normal range. The Heery contract does not accomplish this. The rates were firmly set on an unknown basis back in 2003 and 2004. Augusta did not negotiate controls over composition of rates.
Beyond this, generally there is a firm division in setting rates that only people directly engaged in the project or on site are billed. Principals, Project Directors, and home office administrative assistants, all of whom appear on Augusta's contract, are included within the markup applied to the directly-engaged employees. Augusta's Heery contract allows these employees to be billed in addition to the marked-up billing rates of the direct employees.
Augusta is only permitted to audit the hours billed and the employee classification. Augusta is not allowed access to payroll records to ascertain accuracy of the rate billed or upon what basis the rate is determined. The language is blunt: “OWNER may only audit accounting records applicable to a cost-reimbursable type compensation.”
What this says is that the public can never know how community liason Butch Gallop's Heery billing rate got to be a whopping $177.91 an hour billed, with the potential of being billed at the $240.04 an hour on the rate sheet for next year!
The contract is nearly always advertised as a joint venture between Dukes Edwards Dukes and Heery International. Indeed, Dukes Edwards Dukes principal Winfred Dukes appears on the billing rate sheet at $240.04 an hour in 2013, up from the initial $162.16 an hour. For the sake of clarity and honesty, Dukes bills only about 4 hours a month. He is one of several Heery executives who Augusta should never have allowed to be billed in this writer's humble opinion, since they are at supervision levels above the Senior Project Managers and directly-engaged staff on Augusta's projects.
To summarize, the Heery contract has been on auto-pilot with compounding rates, unverifiable rate bases, and apparent inadequate division of direct labor versus overhead. The fault lies with Augusta, not its contractor, in this case as in all of the others recently reviewed. Augusta is profligate with taxpayer money, in this case by not revisiting a blanket order for services, electing to extend it untouched for years.
Who is Winfred Dukes? Well we found him under the Gold Dome in Atlanta.
Who knew Augusta had another state representative in the Georgia House?
Mysterious bodies abound in Augusta's contracts. So far there are two in the Heery contract.
Stay tuned, there is more to come, as the deciphering of Augusta's contracting continues.
"Galloping" Away With Taxpayers' Money
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