More questions are being raised about backroom contracting procedures that have led to a Honolulu Ethics Commission investigation.
Documents provided to Civil Beat shortly after 5 p.m. Friday show one of the three city officials tasked with choosing a consultant to evaluate the merits of merging the Honolulu Fire Department with the Emergency Services Department manipulated his scores after the fact. Human Resources Department attorney Paul Au lowered his grade for a company that initially appeared to have won a $175,000 contract, instead awarding it to another organization with ties to the Fire Department and its chief.
A message left for Au at his office Thursday was not returned. Attempts to reach him late Friday were unsuccessful.
The scoresheets, embedded below, show that Au gave Ralph Anderson and Associates 39 points on June 18, 2010. Four days later, he bumped that company’s grade down to 36 points, giving Emergency Services Consulting International just enough to win.
The procurement process is the subject of an Ethics Commission probe focusing on the connections between the Fire Department and Chief Kenneth Silva and ESCI and its parent company, the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Silva serves on the IAFC board.
Scoresheets from the two other members of the three-person procurement panel — EMS Chief Patty Dukes and Assistant Fire Chief Thomas Perkins — made Au’s decision paramount.
Dukes gave Anderson and Associates 31 points to 26 for ESCI and 25 for two other companies. Perkins gave ESCI 38 points and Anderson 35 points. In his original scoresheet, Au gave both companies 39 points. Added together, Anderson appeared to have won, 105 to 103.
But Perkins gave Au his packet back in the days following the vote after a “scoring dilemma” became apparent, according to a city email given to Civil Beat. Silva and Deputy Fire Chief Emmit Kane told Civil Beat this week that Au couldn’t have a tie on his sheet and needed to pick a winner because Dukes and Perkins had each picked a different company.
But rather than nudging Anderson or ESCI up or down one point to break the tie, Au bumped Anderson down from 39 to 36, giving ESCI a 103-102 edge.
Au did that by lowering Anderson’s rating for “past performance on similar projects” from four to three, a category that was multiplied by three before being added to final score. Anderson and ESCI remained even on “qualifications and experience” and “capacity to accomplish work in the required time.”
None of the documents provided Friday include a justification for the score adjustment.
However, it’s not immediately clear whether the scores for each company should have been totalled — meaning 105-103 or 103-102 is the final tally — or if each panelists scores should have been counted as a single point for one company — meaning 2-1 is the result, and Au’s change was in fact needed to break the tie.
A message left with Central Purchasing and Contracts Administrator Wendale Imamura Thursday was not immediately returned.