Engineer Kathy Posner

McDonough Associates, Inc. describes itself on its web site as “a full-service engineering/architectural firm with a professional and technical staff of approximately 135 employees.” But on the site’s link to “Latest News” the stories about the company’s recent travails are not included.

Last week, Sun-Times reporters Chris Fusco and Tina Sfondeles, chronicled the story of how McDonough Associates had blatantly over-billed the Illinois Department of Transportation. They pointed out that a July 2011 auditor’s report had “… questioned why McDonough employee bonuses, payments of dividends to the firm’s shareholders and other expenses were recorded as “overhead costs” even though those expenses appeared to have little to do with the work performed. Those expenses included “dinners, golf outings, Christmas luncheons and professional baseball and basketball game excursions involving IDOT employees.”

Bill Grunloh, the state procurement officer who oversees transportation contracts said that, “$46.5 million was improperly included by Contractor in its overhead computation for bonuses and dividends. Grunloh’s report said, “The overbilling took place over the majority of the last decade and ended in a multimillion-dollar overbilling balance . . . . The magnitude of the overbilling and the inability of such a business to prevent this kind of activity is . . . staggering.”

William B. Sullivan, the McDonough attorney, disputed the findings. “My client does not agree that any theft occurred,” Sullivan said. “

The Tribune reported that, “Since 2002, the state, the tollway agency and City of Chicago have paid more than $330 million to McDonough for engineering work, according to online databases maintained by the state and city.”

The June 5th final report of Chief Procurement Officer Grunloh, listing all the allegations concludes with, “Based upon my review of the evidence and analysis of past precedent, I find that McDonough Associates, Inc. should be suspended for a term of three years commensurate with the seriousness of the conduct by adequate evidence.”

My first question is, “How come the suspension is only for three years? Why wouldn’t the company be barred for life from doing business with the state of Illinois?”
The McDonough web site says that they have “completed more than 1,800 engineering and technical projects with a total value in excess of $5 billion for a client base of more than 500 organizations.” So my second question is,”Are all of those organizations going to do audits to verify that they have not been over-billed also?”

According to state campaign finance records, the company and its officials have contributed more than $700,000 to political campaigns in the last 10 years. So my final question is, “Will the politicians return the contributed money to the company so it can be used to pay back the taxpayers who have been bilked?”

Read More From Planet Posner HERE....