Audit of construction projects expected in April

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Review begins one month after city is overcharged by airport contractor.

By Martin R. Herrera

The public will get their first glimpse into how the Alamo Community College District is managing its $450 million bond projects when an internal audit report is released in April.

Pat Major, district director of internal audit, said, “The goal is to do most of our field work in February and have our draft report ready in very early March for management and a final report in April.”

The bond package to construct facilities and make major renovations throughout the college district was approved by voters in 2005.

News of the pending audit comes one month after San Antonio City Auditor, Pete M. Gonzales Jr., released a less-than-flattering report concerning the Aviation Department’s oversight of projects at the international airport.

In the Jan. 7 report, Gonzales determined that the city was overcharged $254,796 by a subcontractor performing utility relocation work for the construction of the airport’s new Terminal B.

In addition to the overcharge, the contractor owed the city $6,000 in liquidated damages for not completing the work on time.

According to documents on the city’s Internet site, Carter & Burgess, Inc. is the engineering firm hired by the city to manage the various construction contracts at the airport.

Major revealed that Carter & Burgess provides services to the college district on an as-needed basis.

Although aware of the city’s report and the negative attention that it generated, Major said that is not what prompted her to do an audit.

“The bond projects are high risk,” she said, explaining her reasons for the audit. “It took two elections to get it passed, there’s a great deal of public interest, and some of our problems in the past centered on manipulating construction projects.”

Preparations for the review began back in March when Major and her staff studied the terms of the contracts, although an audit was not feasible then.

“We hadn’t done that much real work (construction),” she said. “Now we’ve done a lot of real work. We’ve finished a garage and we’ve finished another building.” 

“Now we have more to take a look at and see how they’ve managed it,” Major said.

The sheer size of the bond projects is a challenge for Major who will first focus her attention on one of the construction project management firms.

Based on her findings in the first audit, she will then modify her plan of attack for subsequent reviews.

A separate audit of Carter & Burgess Inc. may be looming as well, Major said.

“Anytime you hear about how a business conducts themselves, you want to pay attention to that,” she said.

For more information on the bond projects, visit http://www.accd.edu/district/facilities/cip.

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