The review criticizes the Authority for a lack of required documentation surrounding the eight randomly selected contracts it examined. It also questions the use of emergency solicitations to award large contracts without going to bid.
The review was conducted by members of HUD’s New Jersey public housing office on the week of July 28 under the supervision of office director Sonia Burgos.
The most critical section of the report dealt with emergency contracts awarded to Haddad Electrical and All Risk after Superstorm Sandy.
“Even after 18 months later,” the review stated, “HHA have been using these same contractors on an as needed bases [sic] by way of purchase orders. It appears that by issuing these purchase orders, HHA has circumvented the bidding process.”
Overall, the review said, the Authority had engaged in over $3 million of “unjustified non-competitive procurement.”
In a statement released Thursday, Wefer emphasized that “these findings are just for the eight files HUD sampled. Extrapolating this data to the whole of the HHA lays bare how dire the situation is.”
In an email to the Hoboken Reporter, Garcia stridently defended himself, saying that the Authority’s lack of record-keeping resulted in part from the non-cooperation of a board that opposed and ultimately fired him.
“What the Chairwoman fails to admit is that between the two devastating Natural Disasters & the board's lack of support,” wrote Garcia, “their obstructionism for the last two years created these situations.”
Garcia said some of the missing information had been present, but in a different format than HUD wanted. He suggested that any Housing Authority in the state of New Jersey would display the same lack of documentation, given the level of scrutiny involved in HUD technical reviews.
Garcia said other documents were lost or misplaced when the HHA main office flooded during Sandy.
Garcia also placed some of the blame on one of his financial officers, under whose purview procurement record-keeping falls.
In an email to the Reporter, HHA Resident Advisory Board President Barbara Reyes echoed Garcia’s statements.
She noted that the HHA “also went through ‘Sequestration’ which affected every and all entities who received federal funding and ended up operating on 25-30 percent less monies of what they received prior to sequestration.”
As a result of the review, HUD has imposed a zero dollar threshold on the agency, meaning that it must approve every service contract procured by the HHA. HHA must also complete a Corrective Action Plan to address its procurement issues within 30 days.
In addition, HUD's Burgos mentioned that all Commissioners “must complete the state required training courses” required upon beginning their term on the board. She suggested that the board receive extra training in procurement rules in light of its review.