Robert Trout AppendixDawn Bellinger2022-05-23T11:02:54-04:00
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Report of the Special Counsel
Special Committee on Investigation of
Capital Projects of the Department of Parks
March 11, 2011
Robert P. Trout
Gloria B. Solomon
TROUT CACHERIS, PLLC
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION AND EXECUTIVE SUMMARY………………………………………………………….. 1
SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION ………………………………………………………………………………. 16
A. How It Began ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 16
B. The Authorizing Resolution………………………………………………………………………. 17
C. The Special Counsel Resolution ………………………………………………………………… 20
D. Methodology…………………………………………………………………………………………… 21
1. Document collection and review …………………………………………………….. 22
2. Skinner’s testimony before the Council……………………………………………. 24
3. Depositions and interviews…………………………………………………………….. 25
E. Limitations of the Investigation…………………………………………………………………. 28
LEGAL BACKGROUND ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 30
A. The Council Approval Requirement…………………………………………………………… 30
B. Laws Governing District Procurements………………………………………………………. 32
C. Local, Small and Disadvantaged Businesses……………………………………………….. 34
D. Memoranda of Understanding …………………………………………………………………… 35
CHRONOLOGY OF KEY EVENTS………………………………………………………………………………. 37
FACTS AND ANALYSIS……………………………………………………………………………………………… 41
I. BACKGROUND: DPR, WALKER JONES, DEANWOOD, AND
THE BANNEKER-REGAN TEAM…………………………………………………………………. 41
A. DPR’s Inability to Move Capital Projects Forward………………………………………. 41
B. DPR Looked to Other Agencies for Help with Construction. ………………………… 45
C. Walker Jones…………………………………………………………………………………………… 47
1. The Banneker/Regan Associates team……………………………………………… 50
D. Deanwood ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 55
1. The Deanwood program management RFQ ……………………………………… 57
2. Banneker as program manager………………………………………………………… 57
3. DCHA’s role on Deanwood……………………………………………………………. 59
II. THE DPR CAPITAL PROJECTS AND THE MOU TO DMPED ……………………….. 61
A. The Attempted Transfer to OPEFM …………………………………………………………… 61
B. DMPED’s Involvement ……………………………………………………………………………. 64
C. DMPED Looked to Banneker from the Start……………………………………………….. 64
III. THE MOU FROM DMPED TO DCHA……………………………………………………………. 68
A. Why DCHA?…………………………………………………………………………………………… 70
IV. THE SELECTION OF BANNEKER VENTURES AS PROJECT
MANAGER ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 76
A. The Project Management RFQ ………………………………………………………………….. 76
B. Communications between Jannarone and Karim while the RFQ
was pending ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 79
C. The Banneker-Regan Response to the RFQ ………………………………………………… 83
D. The Selection Process ………………………………………………………………………………. 84
1. Did Glover have a disqualifying relationship with
Banneker? ……………………………………………………………………………………. 85
2. Was the selection committee or its scoring manipulated to
favor Banneker?……………………………………………………………………………. 86
V. THE BANNEKER PROJECT MANAGEMENT CONTRACT…………………………… 92
A. The Intent to Award Letter; Work Begins …………………………………………………… 93
B. DMPED controlled the contract negotiations………………………………………………. 94
1. The fixed fee ………………………………………………………………………………… 94
2. The 9% mark-up …………………………………………………………………………… 98
C. Finalizing the Contract……………………………………………………………………………. 103
D. DCHE Approval of the Contract………………………………………………………………. 107
VI. THE BANNEKER CONTRACT WAS NOT SUBMITTED TO THE
VII. BANNEKER’S SELECTION AND MANAGEMENT OF LIBERTY
ENGINEERING & DESIGN…………………………………………………………………………. 120
A. Liberty Engineering & Design…………………………………………………………………. 121
B. The Relationship between Karim and Skinner …………………………………………… 123
1. Banneker Ventures………………………………………………………………………. 124
2. Liberty Law Group ……………………………………………………………………… 124
3. Liberty Industries………………………………………………………………………… 126
4. The 12th Street address…………………………………………………………………. 131
5. The financial relationships between Karim and Skinner …………………… 133
C. “I Don’t Recall” …………………………………………………………………………………….. 138
D. Banneker’s Selection of LEAD ……………………………………………………………….. 141
1. The initial sole source contract ……………………………………………………… 141
2. The engineering RFQ…………………………………………………………………… 145
3. LEAD’s proposal ………………………………………………………………………… 149
4. LEAD’s selection based on CBE status………………………………………….. 159
E. LEAD’s Performance and Invoices ………………………………………………………….. 163
1. LEAD’s role on the projects …………………………………………………………. 164
a. LEAD contracted out the surveying work ……………………………. 166
b. LEAD contracted out the civil engineering work………………….. 168
c. LEAD contracted out much of the geotechnical and
environmental engineering work ………………………………………… 170
d. LEAD used consultants for the “management”
function too. …………………………………………………………………….. 173
2. LEAD’s invoices…………………………………………………………………………. 176
a. Consulting and surveying services………………………………………. 178
b. Civil engineering services………………………………………………….. 189
c. Geotechnical engineering…………………………………………………… 192
d. Environmental Site Assessments ………………………………………… 194
F. Management and Oversight of LEAD ………………………………………………………. 195
VIII. AWARD OF THE CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS …………………………………….. 201
IX. EVENTS AFTER THE INVESTIGATION BEGAN ……………………………………….. 215
A. The Funds Cutoff and the Stop Work Order………………………………………………. 215
B. The December 2009 Change Order and MOU …………………………………………… 219
C. Removal of the DCHA Board Chairman…………………………………………………… 225
D. The December 24 Payment……………………………………………………………………… 231
E. The July Settlement………………………………………………………………………………… 246
A. Legislative Recommendations…………………………………………………………………. 255
B. Referral to the United States Attorney………………………………………………………. 258
INTRODUCTION AND EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
In October 2009, members of the Council of the District of Columbia became aware that
the District of Columbia Housing Authority was overseeing multi-million dollar contracts for the
construction and renovation of city recreation centers, ball fields, and parks. Groundbreakings
had been announced for multiple projects on a schedule that did not seem to correspond with the
DPR capital budget with which the Council members were familiar. They discovered that the
funding and authority for the capital expenditures had been transferred from the Department of
Parks and Recreation (DPR) to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
(DMPED), and from there to the Housing Authority (DCHA), which then assigned responsibility
for the projects to its wholly-owned subsidiary, District of Columbia Housing Enterprise
(DCHE). Moreover, a $4.2 million dollar contract to manage the construction of all of the
projects had been awarded to a single firm, Banneker Ventures, whose principal, Omar Karim,
was reportedly a close ally and friend of then-Mayor Adrian Fenty. This came as a surprise to the
Council members since under the Home Rule Act, contracts that exceed one million dollars or
are to be performed over multiple years are supposed to be submitted to the Council for
approval, and no parks contracts had been presented to them. Adding to the Council’s concerns,
Banneker, as project manager, was entitled to receive a 9% mark-up on the amounts it paid
consultants such as architects and engineers, and it had awarded the engineering work on all of
the parks to Liberty Engineering and Design (LEAD), whose principal, Sinclair Skinner, was
also known to be close to the Mayor.
All of these facts raised the question: why? Why had the funding taken such a circuitous
route, so that parks and recreation projects were now being managed by the independent agency
responsible for public housing? The Council learned that DCHA took the position – and that
DMPED also understood – that DCHA contracts were not subject to the requirement of Council
approval. Were the funding transfers simply a sleight of hand, then, designed to avoid Council
oversight? Was the lack of transparency the bi-product of a decision to transfer the projects for a
legitimate reason, or was the circumvention of Council review rooted in a concern that the
Council would scrutinize and possibly disapprove valuable contracts that had been awarded to
firms with ties to the Mayor?
The Council members also wanted to know: had the program management procurement
been steered to Banneker or manipulated in some other way to give Banneker an advantage?
Was the engineering work appropriately awarded to LEAD? In other words, were the contracts
the outcome of a fair and lawful procurement process, or grounded in cronyism or something
worse? And finally, were the public and private entities and individuals tasked with providing
the necessary oversight performing their functions? Were taxpayer dollars for DPR capital
projects being appropriately managed and spent?
After the Council began looking into the matter in late October, more questions arose. If,
as the Attorney General found on Friday, October 23, 2009, DCHA was actually bound by the
Home Rule Act when it contracted to spend the city’s money, did the Attorney General correctly
advise DCHA the following Monday that the Banneker contract was valid and could proceed?
The Council froze the flow of funds in November, so why did DMPED and DCHA agree to
increase the number of parks and the amount of funds to be transferred at the beginning of
December? Why did DCHA issue a check to Banneker for $2.5 million on Christmas eve, even
though by then, the Council had formally disapproved and cancelled the project management
contract altogether? And why did the Mayor remove the Chair of the DCHA Board of
Commissioners – a critic of the Banneker contract – from his position?
Faced with these questions, the Council appointed Special Counsel to undertake an
investigation that would attempt to answer them and to aid the Council in determining whether
any further legislative action or inquiry was warranted. This Report is the result of that
We note at the outset that the public discussion of the DPR capital projects issues has
often included references to “90 million dollars’ worth of contracts,” but the amount of money
that was actually transferred or spent before the Council halted the projects was considerably
lower than that. By the time the Council inquiry began, DPR had transferred authority for the
expenditure of approximately $87 million of capital funds to DMPED. The actual amount of
money sent from DPR to DMPED, however, was $18,413,500.1
And the actual amount
transferred from DMPED to DCHA was only $6,200,000. Moreover, Banneker did not receive
all of the contracts for construction of the projects; instead, it was awarded the project
management contract, which represented only a small portion of the total construction budget.
By December 24, 2009, a total of $4,483,578.77 had been paid to Banneker – not only for
management fees, but also for hard costs and amounts due to its consultants.2
As will be described in greater detail in the body of the Report, based on the scope of the
investigation we were authorized to conduct, and the information that was provided to us, we
came to the following findings and conclusions:
Ex. 1, Letter from Barbara Roberson, DPR Fiscal Officer, and Conrad Bridges, DMPED
Fiscal Officer, to then Chairman Vincent C. Gray (Nov. 23, 2009) with DPR project funding
Ex. 2, DCHE charts showing a breakdown of invoices paid.
The Transfer of Funds
Our investigation uncovered no wrongdoing on the part of the Mayor, and we found that
the DPR capital funds were not transferred for the purpose of avoiding Council oversight.
• The transfer of funds for the DPR capital projects from DPR to DMPED, and from there
to DCHA, was prompted by a sincere desire on the part of administration officials to
expedite the completion of long-awaited public projects.
• The Fenty administration identified the renovation of parks and community centers as an
important priority, and the Mayor’s office and DPR officials were frustrated by the
backlog of stalled projects. Speed was considered to be imperative, and it was generally
understood that DPR was ill-prepared to deliver it.
• DPR is required to conduct its solicitations through the Office of Contracting and
Procurement (OCP), which delegated authority for construction procurements to the
Department of Real Estate Services (DRES). The OCP process can be slow and
deliberate. DPR also believed that its in-house construction management capacity was
insufficient to handle multiple large scale projects involving the building of new facilities
as opposed to the ongoing repair and maintenance of existing parks.
• Before the funds were transferred to DCHA, city officials attempted to transfer
responsibility for the DPR capital projects to the Office of Public Education Facilities
Management (OPEFM), which had independent procurement authority and was not tied
to OCP. In November 2008, though, the Council intervened and prohibited the transfer.
• OPEFM would have utilized its existing project management team, so there would have
been no need to procure a construction management firm for that function. Moreover,
since the agency is bound by the Home Rule Act, any contracts that exceeded the million
dollar threshold would have been submitted to the Council for review had the projects
remained under OPEFM’s control. The fact that city officials initially sought to transfer
the DPR projects to OPEFM is therefore a significant factor in our conclusion that the
projects were not transferred for the purpose of avoiding Council review.
• The execution of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to move funds to another
agency – including to DCHA to obtain its assistance on construction projects – was
lawful, and it was consistent with prior practice that predated the Fenty administration. In
fact, DCHE had been specifically created to generate revenue for DCHA by providing
construction services to other entities, and what it proposed to offer them was efficiency.
• The Fenty administration utilized the procedure, though, to an unprecedented degree.
Prior to the DPR projects, DMPED implemented an MOU process culminating at DCHE
for two major projects that far exceeded the cost of anything transferred to the housing
agency before: the completion of a combined public school, library, and recreation center
project at the Walker Jones educational campus in Northwest D.C., and the construction
of the Deanwood Community Center in N.E. Those projects were then viewed as possible
templates for the DPR capital projects.
The Selection of Banneker
• Banneker Ventures was not selected alone, but rather, it was teamed with a seasoned
construction management firm with significant experience in public projects, Regan
Associates, Inc. And it was the Banneker-Regan team that had previously managed both
Walker Jones and Deanwood.3
Thus, there were reasonable grounds for choosing the
Banneker-Regan team on the merits to assume the project management role on the DPR
• When the Regans were first seeking a local, minority-owned firm with which to partner,
Banneker was brought to their attention through a referral from DMPED’s David
Jannarone. But there was no evidence in the bank records of any benefit flowing to
Jannarone from Banneker or from Karim or Skinner’s other businesses. And no
participant in the DPR project manager selection process reported being subjected to any
improper influence or even advocacy on the part of Jannarone, or anyone else in city
government, in favor of Banneker.
• DCHE issued a Request for Qualifications (“RFQ”) to which a number of firms
responded. Their submissions were fairly reviewed by a selection panel made up of
representatives from DPR, DMPED, and DCHE, and the Banneker-Regan team in fact
received the highest score. We found no evidence of improper influence in the selection
and scoring process. We have therefore concluded that the award of the contract to
Banneker is not a matter that calls for further investigation.
The Failure to Obtain Council Approval
Many of the questions that were raised at the time the Council became aware of the
Banneker contract concerned the issue of the failure to obtain Council approval.
• DCHA is an independent agency, and it did not view itself as bound by the D.C. law
requiring Council approval of certain contracts. Thus, when DMPED decided to transfer
funding for the DPR projects to DCHA, it was with the expectation that DCHA would
not be submitting the resulting contracts to the Council. While administration officials
responsible for the decision indicated that they were well aware that Council review
typically takes additional time they did not want to spend, they stated that the MOU was
not prompted by a desire to evade Council review. Officials on both sides of the
DMPED/DCHA transfer testified that the move was inspired by DCHA’s capacity to
manage construction efficiently and that Council approval was not discussed.
The circumstances surrounding those procurements were outside the scope of this
• We conclude, though, that DCHA was wrong in its judgment that the contracts were not
subject to Council review. DCHA did not receive a formal opinion from the Attorney
General until October 23, 2009, after the Council expressed dismay that it had been
bypassed in this instance. But DCHA’s general counsel, Hans Froelicher, was aware as
early as 2007 that the Attorney General’s Office was of the view that DCHA was subject
to the requirement, particularly when District funds were involved. In 2008, the Attorney
General expressed himself unambiguously and in writing on the subject, and he cited the
authority underlying his opinion. Although we believe that DCHA can be faulted for its
refusal to acknowledge the Council’s authority to approve contracts involving city funds,
we note that there was no evidence that DCHA’s legal position grew out of the intent to
shield any particular contract or contracts from review.
• When the Attorney General declared on October 23 that DCHA was indeed bound by the
Home Rule Act when contracts encumbering District funds were awarded, he premised
his opinion in large part upon a formal opinion that had been issued in 1996 applying the
same ruling to a different independent agency. We therefore question the basis for the
memorandum the Attorney General sent to DCHA on October 26, which stated that since
his October 23 opinion was not retroactive, the Banneker contract remained in force.
Based on the law set forth in the October 23 opinion, we conclude that absent Council
approval, the contract was not valid.
Questions Related to the Procurement
Records related to the procurement revealed other anomalies that prompted questions
from the Council.
• Jacqueline Glover, who had been offered a job at Banneker before taking a position at
DMPED, served as a DMPED representative on the selection panel that considered the
responses to the RFQ for the project manager. We find that her limited interaction with
Banneker did not disqualify her. Moreover, her participation in the procurement made no
difference to the outcome, since Banneker-Regan would have been the top scorer even if
Glover’s scores were excluded entirely.
• Even before the Banneker-Regan team was formally selected as program manager for the
DPR capital projects, there appears to have been an assumption within DMPED, at least
on the part of David Jannarone, that Banneker would be involved in the program
management for the projects. Jannarone was the DMPED official with primary
responsibility for overseeing the projects, and he was a close friend of Sinclair Skinner’s.
Initially DMPED considered adding the DPR capital projects to the Walker Jones
contract through the execution of a change order. Even after that concept was abandoned,
Jannarone acted as if it was a foregone conclusion that Banneker would be awarded the
contract. After DCHE issued the RFQ, but before the proposals were due, Jannarone
directed Karim to prepare cash flow projections for DPR capital projects. It was
inappropriate for an official involved in the procurement to communicate with a single
bidder about the work while the procurement was pending, and the exchange bespeaks a
bias on Jannarone’s part in favor of Banneker. But we concluded that neither the subject
matter of the communication nor Jannarone’s apparent mindset gave the Banneker-Regan
team an actual advantage given the manner in which the procurement was carried out, the
scores fairly awarded by disinterested panel participants, and the fact that budget
information played no role in the procurement.
• Another question that arose was why, if the selection panel chose “Banneker-Regan” as
the project manager, was the contract executed with Banneker alone? That circumstance
arose out of the terms of the mentoring relationship Regan established with Banneker,
over which city officials exerted no control. Pursuant to agreements between the two
private parties, Regan was the signatory on the project management contract on Walker
Jones, and it executed a subcontract bringing Banneker on as a consultant for 33% of its
fee. The roles were reversed on Deanwood and the DPR projects, and Banneker’s share
was increased, as Regan was committed to Banneker’s advancement to the leadership
Although we conclude that no further investigation is warranted into the decision to
transfer funds from DPR through DMPED to DCHA or the selection of Banneker as project
manager, certain of the explanations given for those decisions did not hold up under close
Review of Justifications Provided to the Council
• One reason for the transfer of the projects to DCHA that was advanced by city officials at
the initial Council hearings was DMPED’s need to utilize the superior construction
management expertise available at the housing agency. But this explanation did not align
with the plain terms of the MOU or the manner in which the arrangement was actually
implemented. The MOU between DMPED and DCHA engaged DCHA only to perform
contract administration services and serve as a “pay agent.” DCHE staff reviewed
Banneker invoices for accuracy, but they compared them to budgets that had been
supplied to them by DMPED and Banneker, and they relied on DMPED – which they
referred to as DCHA’s “client” – to verify that the work had been performed and the
expenditures were reasonable and necessary. DMPED remained in full control of the
projects: it negotiated the terms of the project management contract with Banneker,
approved Banneker’s invoices, and directed and oversaw Banneker’s work. Indeed,
DMPED resisted DCHE’s attempts to provide guidance on the terms of the contract. So
while we did not uncover evidence establishing that the capital funds were transferred for
the purpose of avoiding Council oversight, there was little evidence to support the
publicly proffered justification that DMPED wanted to utilize the superior construction
management expertise available at DCHA.
• Similarly, DMPED and Banneker took the position that the 9% mark-up on amounts due
consultants was a reasonable fee – even on top of the $4.2 million fixed fee – since it was
Banneker that would be responsible for procuring and contracting with the design
professionals and that would be at risk for their negligence or breach of contract. But in
fact, the Banneker contract specifically relieves the project manager of any liability for
the consultants’ performance or misconduct.
• DMPED and other city officials publicly defended the Banneker contract on the grounds
that it had been “competitively bid.” But the decision to proceed by RFQ – while not
unusual or inherently improper – did not provide for any price competition at all. It is our
view that the District would have been better served by a process that solicited price
proposals, either at the outset or after the most qualified firms had been identified via the
RFQ. The total to be paid once the mark-up on consultants was added to the fixed fee
sparked a great deal of public second-guessing and discussion; price competition would
have opened the process to other bidders and established some basis for confidence that
the work was actually being performed at the lowest cost.
• Finally, while the Banneker procurement and the terms of its contract were explained at
the Council hearings as the replication of a formula that had previously worked well at
Walker Jones and Deanwood, in March of 2009, it was premature to assess the success of
Deanwood, and in fact, Deanwood was handled quite differently. The MOU from DPR to
DMPED in that instance expressly recognized the need for Council approval; DMPED,
and not DCHA, conducted the procurement for the project manager; the project
management contract was awarded after a procurement process that solicited competitive
price proposals; and the contract did not include the controversial 9% mark-up.
Events Occurring After the Council Inquiry Began
We also reached conclusions about questioned events that transpired after the Council
inquiries were underway.
• On December 9, 2009, DMPED and DCHA amended their MOU to increase the number
of parks and the total amount of capital funds transferred to the housing agency. On the
same date, DCHE and Banneker executed a change order to the project management
contract, expanding the scope of the work and revising the fee arrangement, while
reducing and capping the controversial 9% mark-up. We found that these actions were
simply part of an effort led by DMPED to present a complete package to the Council for
approval at that time. The parties took steps to ensure that the paperwork finally reflected
the full scope of the work, and they amended the contract to address Councilmembers’
concerns in the hope of securing approval so that work could proceed. While the effort
was ultimately unsuccessful, there is nothing about it that warrants further investigation.
• There were some within DCHA who agreed that moving forward to seek Council
approval was the right course of action. There were others, in particular, William Slover,
then Chair of the DCHA Board of Commissioners, who felt that in light of the Council’s
decision to cut off the flow of funds for the projects, the agency would be better advised
to terminate its MOU with DMPED and conclude its involvement in the projects. Slover
had also raised a number of questions about the terms of the Banneker contract. The
Mayor made the decision to remove the Chair in November, but we did not find that the
personnel action was motivated by a desire to silence a critic. The Mayor’s action was
prompted by the Attorney General, who was frustrated at the time that the General
Counsel of DCHA was proposing a course of action other than the one that the Attorney
General had recommended. The Attorney General suggested that therefore, a change in
leadership at DCHA was required. The Chair served at the will of the Mayor in any
• The $2.5 million payment to Banneker on Christmas eve came as a shock to Council
members who had formally disapproved the contract nine days before. We found that
DCHA made the decision to pay the outstanding invoices, under some prodding by David
Jannarone at DMPED, in a good faith effort to make contractors who had already
performed work whole and to bring the agency’s involvement in the projects to a close.
While the CFO of DCHA expressed reservations at the time, and the report raises
questions about the legal underpinnings for the settlement agreement and the decision to
issue the payment without broader notification or consensus, the matter does not require
further examination. We found no evidence that the Mayor or the Attorney General were
Banneker’s Management of the Projects
Our investigation went on to reach certain findings and conclusions concerning
Banneker’s management of the DPR projects: in particular, its selection of LEAD to perform
engineering services and its procurement of certain general contractors to build the individual
projects. It is with respect to these issues that we conclude that further investigation is warranted.
The Selection and Payment of Liberty Engineering & Design
• Banneker selected LEAD to perform all of the engineering work on all of the projects.
LEAD was a year-old, two-man firm, and only one of its two principals was a licensed
professional engineer. LEAD had not previously been hired to provide the full range of
civil engineering services on a large scale public recreation project.
• Immediately after it was notified of DCHE’s intent to award it the project management
contract, Banneker hired LEAD on a sole source basis to provide consulting services and
to survey the sites. There was no licensed surveyor at LEAD.
• Banneker subsequently issued an RFQ seeking a firm to perform all of the civil
engineering services – civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, environmental
assessments, structural engineering, testing and inspection, and also, the surveys – for all
of the parks. The RFQ required participation by a firm identified by the Department of
Small & Local Business Development as a “Certified Business Enterprise.”
• While LEAD met few of the limited set of other criteria set out in the RFQ, Banneker
selected it on the grounds that it was the only respondent that met the CBE requirement.
Price played no role in the procurement.
• LEAD’s response to the RFQ was false in several material respects. In particular, LEAD
misrepresented its capacity, and it provided resumes falsely identifying individuals who
worked elsewhere as LEAD employees. Based on facts uncovered about the relationship
between Skinner and Karim, and Banneker and LEAD, there is reason to believe that
Karim knew or should have known that LEAD’s RFQ response was inaccurate and that it
significantly exaggerated LEAD’s qualifications.
• Banneker did not involve Regan – which was supposed to have responsibility for half of
the parks – with respect to either the original sole source arrangement or the subsequent
consulting services contracts with LEAD. Banneker assumed sole responsibility for the
pricing and procurement of the engineers.
• After LEAD was awarded the engineering work, it did little of the work itself. It engaged
other, non-CBE firms to perform the surveying and civil engineering and to draft the
environmental site assessments while it provided “management, direction, and
• While LEAD’s “management” of the other engineers amounted to little more than
scheduling and transmitting their work product, it submitted invoices to Banneker that
marked up its payments to those engineers by more than 125%. Surveys were marked up
by more than 400%. Thus, Banneker’s selection of LEAD, as opposed to a firm with the
capacity to perform the work itself, added an extremely expensive layer of management
to the projects, resulting in, at the very least, considerable waste to the taxpayers.
• While Banneker was on notice of LEAD’s reliance on other engineering firms, there is no
evidence that Banneker required LEAD to produce records of its costs before applying its
9% markup and transmitting LEAD’s invoices to DMPED and DCHE for payment.
• There is no evidence that Banneker negotiated with LEAD before accepting its proposed
pricing structure; indeed, Banneker submitted LEAD’s overpriced invoices for the first
five surveys to DMPED – applying the 9% mark up – before it had even executed a
contract with LEAD determining what the survey prices would be.
The Relationship between Skinner and Karim
and the Witnesses’ Testimony on those Matters
How did this happen? The investigation has uncovered multiple ties between Skinner and
Karim that may bear on the questions presented to the Special Counsel. At one time, Skinner
represented himself as being affiliated with Banneker Ventures: he was issued a Banneker
Ventures business card with a phone extension and email address there, and he testified in an
unrelated matter that Banneker was one of the clients for whom he sought to develop
government business opportunities. Karim and Skinner also worked together through their sole
proprietorships – Liberty Law Group and Liberty Industries – which they started in 2007.
According to one of their clients, their efforts were also related to assisting would-be city
contractors. Bank records reflect that Karim’s Liberty Law Group paid Skinner’s Liberty
Industries more than $1,000,000 between 2008 and 2010 for services that neither witness could
or would explain. The businesses had separate bank accounts, but they utilized the same office
address – an address that was also used by Banneker Ventures and LEAD. Indeed, Karim’s
Liberty Law Group was paying at least some portion of the rent for the office suite at the very
time that LEAD was obtaining work from his construction firm.
These connections and transactions were not fully clarified in the course of the
investigation, but the inability to plumb the depths of the issues cannot be attributed to any lack
of effort on the part of the Council or the Special Counsel. The Council was forced to resort to
court proceedings to secure Sinclair Skinner’s appearance at the hearings to which he had been
subpoenaed. But when Skinner testified pursuant to the court order, his counsel objected to
questions related to Liberty Industries and the payments from Liberty Law Group on relevance
grounds, and he directed Skinner not to answer them. Karim appeared for his deposition, but he
also refused to answer questions or produce documents related to Liberty Law Group or Liberty
Industries. Ultimately, Skinner agreed to answer the questions, and the court granted the
Council’s motion to compel Karim to do so. But despite the court order and the promise of
cooperation, the witnesses did not answer the questions in any substantive way when they
appeared a second time. Instead, they repeatedly responded: “I don’t recall.”
Karim, Skinner, and Skinner’s partner at LEAD, Abdullahi Barrow, professed to be
unable to remember basic facts about their businesses, such as how many people they employed,
how they came to work with each other, how they spent their time, or the nature of the work they
performed for their clients. The obfuscation was particularly comprehensive when the questions
turned to the relationship between Skinner and Karim and the connections between Banneker
Ventures, Liberty Law Group, and Liberty Industries. Karim failed to produce any records
related to Liberty Law Group. He could not recall why anyone had ever hired his firm for
anything other than “community consulting,” which he defined as “consulting in the
community.” Skinner could not recall the specific reason behind a single payment he received at
Liberty Industries from Liberty Law Group, but he swore that none had anything to do with the
DPR capital projects. The only thing Karim and Skinner could say about the million dollars that
changed hands was that Liberty Industries had performed unspecified “consulting” services for
Liberty Law Group. The witnesses’ claimed failure of recollection was so extensive and so
complete that it was unworthy of belief. Karim and Skinner essentially thwarted the
investigation, and their performance left us with the clear impression that they believed they had
something to hide.
The Selection of the General Contractors
The problems went beyond possible improprieties in Banneker’s selection of LEAD. Our
investigation also discovered that Banneker led the procurement of the general contractors, even
for the parks within Regan’s portfolio, and that it recommended that contracts be awarded to
several firms with financial ties to either Karim or Skinner: Blue Skye Construction, AF
Development, Capital Construction, and District Development Corp. Bank records revealed that
all of these successful bidders made substantial payments to either Liberty Law Group or Liberty
Industries close in time to procurement of the general contractors, but the payments were not
disclosed during the selection process, and neither Karim nor Skinner would explain to us the
reasons behind those payments.
The Need for Further Investigation
Thus, the testimony that was provided and the records we reviewed give rise to concerns
about the arms length nature of Banneker’s award of DPR work to LEAD and to others. We find
that LEAD submitted a false proposal in connection with its effort to obtain city contracts, and
that its invoices were grossly inflated, and that there is reason to believe that Karim knew or
should have known about LEAD’s lack of capacity and its unsupportable profits. In their refusal
to offer any satisfactory explanation for their financial dealings, Karim and Skinner have left
open the question of whether Karim’s payments to Liberty Industries or the fees paid to Liberty
Law Group by other contractors indicate the existence of undisclosed conflicts of interest, or
worse, an unlawful scheme. A reading of the witnesses’ unresponsive testimony in its entirety
also raises the question whether the “I don’t recall” incantation was knowingly false or designed
to obstruct the investigation. For these reasons, while we express no view as to the likely
outcome of a future inquiry, given the limits on the investigative tools available to us as Special
Counsel, we recommend that the Council refer these matters to the United States Attorney for
Conclusions about Government Oversight
Finally, we conclude that Banneker was able to direct such a large proportion of the
dollars expended on the DPR projects in 2009 to LEAD because of a failure of oversight on the
part of DCHE and particularly, DMPED. DCHE personnel reviewed Banneker’s invoices to
ensure that project expenditures were in accordance with project budgets, and they checked for
arithmetic errors and supporting documentation. But they deferred to their “client,” DMPED, to
assess whether the work claimed in the invoices was actually performed and properly priced.
Even in its limited role, DCHE should have asked more questions about LEAD’s invoices when
there was no indication that Banneker had sought approval to hire LEAD under the terms of the
project management contract DCHE was being paid to administer.
DMPED, for its part, simply relied on Banneker to review the invoices submitted by its
consultants, and it took no action to question LEAD’s charges even though the DMPED project
manager, Jacqui Glover, observed that they were high. She was well aware that LEAD was
actually subcontracting the work to other firms, but she signed off on the invoices even in the
absence of records reflecting LEAD’s costs for those subcontractors.
Ultimately, while we are recommending further investigation with respect to Banneker,
LEAD, and Skinner and Karim’s other business entities only, our review uncovered areas for
improvement across the board as many government officials share responsibility for what took
place. District officials gave priority to the need for speed while ignoring the preference for price
competition that is embodied in both District and DCHE procedures and would have better
served the District’s interests. DMPED was operating under an assumption that Banneker would
end up with the project management contract, and when the time came to negotiate its terms,
there was a lack of hard bargaining on the city’s side. Terms from previous contracts that were
favorable to Banneker were repeated without an exploration of their continued justification, and
DMPED brushed aside DCHA’s attempts to take time to improve the contract. This combination
of expedition, inattention, and inertia left the city vulnerable to complaints that there had been at
least an appearance of impropriety, and the use of the RFQ left city officials unable to point to
proof that would dispel complaints that the deal was too rich for Banneker.
The Council was told that funds and authority were transferred from DPR to DMPED in
an effort to supplement DPR’s construction management capacity. But DMPED was just getting
its construction team off the ground, so it transferred funds and authority to DCHA – and agreed
to pay DCHE $700,000 – to tap into its superior construction management expertise. But
DMPED turned a deaf ear when DCHE tried to offer that input. And in the end, DCHE was not
expected to serve as the project manager either. At DMPED’s direction, DCHE paid to engage a
private firm to hire and manage the consultants and contractors, and Banneker, once selected for
that role, selected an engineering firm that did little more than hire and manage its own
contractors. All of these multiple layers of management led to a significant waste of taxpayer
In addition, the successive hand-offs resulted in such a diffusion and dilution of
responsibility that in the end, no one in government took ownership of the projects, and
Banneker was presented with an opportunity it may have exploited for the benefit of LEAD and
possibly others. Banneker was considered and selected for the award in combination with Regan,
but the firm took advantage of its lead position. DCHE held Banneker’s contract, but DMPED
retained control of the projects and the project manager, and neither agency paid sufficient
attention. Both agencies fell short in their roles and both promptly pointed fingers at the other
when problems with the contracts first came to light.
In light of all of the facts and circumstances to be set forth in detail below, we
recommend that the Council refer the matters related to Banneker, LEAD, and Banneker’s
selection of the general contractors to the United States Attorney for further investigation and
that the Council consider the additional legislative recommendations set forth at the conclusion
of this report.
SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION
A. How It Began
On October 22, 2009, four members of the Council of the District of Columbia
(“Council”) wrote a letter to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, stating that it had come to their attention
that week that “tens of millions of dollars in contracts are being awarded through the District of
Columbia Housing Authority.”4
They noted that “Funding for these contracts appears to be
directed from District government agencies for projects related to parks, recreation centers and
fields.” The Council members voiced their concern that the “transfer of procurement authority
may circumvent District procurement laws” and was not sufficiently transparent.5
pointed out that “work appears to have been started or completed on projects over $1 million
without Council approval.”6
One of the questions raised by the Council and in ensuing media reports was why funding
for DPR projects was transferred from DPR to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic
Development (“DMPED”), and then again from DMPED to DCHA and its wholly-owned
subsidiary, District of Columbia Housing Enterprises (“DCHE”).7
Questions were also raised
about the award of the multi-million dollar project management contract to Banneker Ventures
Ex. 3, Letter from Kwame Brown, Chair, Committee on Economic Development, Marion
Barry, Chair, Committee on Housing and Workforce Development, Mary Cheh, Chair,
Committee on Government Operations & the Environment, and Harry Thomas, Jr., Chair,
Committee on Libraries, Parks & Recreation, to Adrian M. Fenty, Mayor of the District of
Columbia (Oct. 22, 2009).
Nikita Stewart, D.C. Council Questions Parks Projects It Didn’t Approve, Wash. Post,
Oct. 23, 2009, at B1.
LLC (“Banneker Ventures” or “Banneker”), a company owned by Omar Karim, a fraternity
brother of Mayor Fenty’s,8
and about Banneker’s award of the civil engineering contract for the
projects to a company owned in part by Sinclair Skinner, also a friend and fraternity brother of
the Mayor’s. 9
In light of these questions, the four Council members, each the chair of a committee with
relevant oversight responsibility, convened a joint public oversight roundtable on October 30,
2009 to examine the DPR capital projects.10 At the roundtable, City Administrator Neil Albert
and several other District officials testified about the projects. In addition, community members
spoke out about their concerns over the contracting and procurement process.11
B. The Authorizing Resolution
Based in part on testimony presented at the October 30 roundtable, the Committee on
Libraries, Parks and Recreation (“the Committee”) found that the circumstances surrounding the
Stewart, Wash. Post, Oct. 31, 2009.
10 Pursuant to Council Rule 501(c), “a committee may hold a roundtable on any matter
related to the affairs of the District that is properly within the committee’s jurisdiction.” In
essence, a roundtable meeting is similar to a hearing except for the notice requirements involved.
Rules for the Council of the District of Columbia, Council Period 18 Resolution of 2009,
effective January 2, 2009 (Res. 18-1, 55 DCR 784) (“Council Rules”). The roundtable was
convened by Kwame Brown, Chair, Committee on Economic Development, Marion Barry,
Chair, Committee on Housing and Workforce Development, Mary Cheh, Chair, Committee on
Government Operations & the Environment, and Harry Thomas, Jr., Chair, Committee on
Libraries, Parks & Recreation.
11 Joint Public Oversight Roundtable on the Contracting Process Related to Parks and
Recreation Before the Committee on Economic Development, the Committee on Housing and
Workforce Development, the Committee on Government Operations & the Environment, and the
Committee on Libraries, Parks & Recreation (hereinafter “Joint Roundtable”), 18th Council
Period (D.C. Oct. 30, 2009); see also Nikita Stewart, Contractor Chose Firms Linked to Fenty,
D.C. Council Told, Wash. Post, Oct. 31, 2009, at B1.
transfer of DPR funds demonstrated “inadequate controls and accountability over the budget
process,” and that the “unanswered and potentially inappropriate involvement of [DPR] and
other District agencies” warranted an investigation.12 Accordingly, on November 2, 2009, the
Committee passed the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation Budget Transparency
Investigation Authorization Resolution of 2009 (“Authorizing Resolution”).
The Authorizing Resolution directed the Committee to investigate the following:
• “A determination of policies, procedures, or other practices surrounding
the transfer of funds or authority via memoranda of understanding, or any
other instrumentality, for Department of Parks and Recreation capital
• “All funds concerning Department of Parks and Recreation capital
• “All relevant facts and circumstances related to the matters listed above
to determine what, if any, legislative action may be appropriate.”13
12 Ex. 4, Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation Budget Transparency Investigation
Authorization Resolution of 2009, effective November 2, 2009 (56 DCR 8724) (the “Authorizing
Resolution”). The Authorizing Resolution was amended by the Committee on Libraries, Parks
and Recreation Resolution Budget Transparency Investigation Amendment Resolution of 2010,
effective March 9, 2010 (57 DCR 3210) (Ex. 5, the “Special Counsel Resolution”).
13 Ex. 4, Authorizing Resolution § 3(1)-(3).
The Authorizing Resolution granted the Committee authority to use subpoenas to compel
the attendance of witnesses, to obtain testimony, and to require the production of documents or
other information or tangible items.14
The Committee then held a series of joint roundtables on November 5, 2009, November
16, 2009, December 2, 2009, December 10, 2009, January 8, 2010, and January 27, 2010.15
Among the witnesses that appeared before the Committee were representatives of DPR,
DMPED, DCHA, DCHE, the Office of Contracting and Procurement (“OCP”) and the Office of
the Chief Financial Officer (“OCFO”). In addition, Omar Karim testified on behalf of Banneker
Ventures, alongside two representatives of Regan Associates LLC, the firm that shared project
management duties with Banneker. Several members of the public also testified.
The Committee also sought the testimony of Sinclair Skinner. Skinner was a founder and
principal of Liberty Engineering & Design (“LEAD”). LEAD was hired by Karim’s company,
Banneker Ventures, to perform civil engineering, geotechnical, environmental, and surveying
services for the DPR capital projects. After Skinner failed to appear to testify,16 the Council
14 Ex. 4, Authorizing Resolution § 4. In addition, on November 5, 2009, Councilmember-atLarge Brown formally requested that the District of Columbia auditor conduct an audit of the
contract and procurement practices related to the DPR capital projects. Ex. 6, Letter from
Deborah K. Nichols, District of Columbia Auditor, to Adrianne Todman, Interim Executive
Director, DCHA (Nov. 16, 2009).
15 Like the October 30, 2009 joint roundtable, these roundtable meetings were also
conducted jointly with the Committee on Economic Development, the Committee on Housing
and Workforce Development, and the Committee on Government Operations & the
16 Ex. 7, Letter from Harry Thomas, Jr., Chair, Committee on Libraries, Parks and
Recreation, to Sinclair Skinner, Liberty Engineering and Design, PLLC, Dec. 8, 2009; Ex. 8,
Subpoena to Sinclair Skinner issued by Council member Harry Thomas, Jr., Chair, Committee
on Libraries, Parks and Recreation of the Council of the District of Columbia, Jan. 14, 2010.
moved to enforce its subpoena in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.17 On February
26, 2010, the Superior Court granted the Council’s petition, and ordered Skinner to appear and
provide testimony before the Committee, subject to a $5,000 fine for the day of his nonappearance and a $1,000 fine for every subsequent day that he failed to appear.18 Skinner
appeared before the Committee on April 15, 2010.
C. The Special Counsel Resolution
In light of Skinner’s recalcitrance, the Committee sought the assistance of outside
counsel in taking Skinner’s testimony. The Committee also requested assistance in reviewing the
facts relating to the DPR capital projects and determining whether further action was warranted.
Accordingly, on March 9, 2010, the Committee unanimously approved the Committee on
Libraries, Parks and Recreation Resolution Budget Transparency Investigation Amendment
Resolution of 2010 (“the Special Counsel Resolution”). The Special Counsel Resolution
appointed Robert P. Trout of Trout Cacheris PLLC as Special Counsel,19 and directed him to do
• “Review all material he deems appropriate concerning this investigation;”
• “Conduct a thorough review of District laws to determine if the
circumstances surrounding the transfer of capital funds, the subsequent
awarding of contracts, or the approval and expenditure of funds warrant
further review of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia or
any other investigative or enforcement agency;”
17 Pursuant to D.C. Official Code section 1-204.13, which authorizes the Council to petition
the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to enforce a Council subpoena on a witness, the
Committee adopted the Enforcement of Subpoena of Sinclair Skinner Resolution of 2010,
effective February 2, 2010 (Res. 18-379). See Ex. 9.
18 Ex. 10, Council of the District of Columbia v. Sinclair Skinner, No. 1122-2010 (D.C.
Super. Ct. Feb. 26, 2010) (order granting consent motion).
19 Ex. 5, Special Counsel Resolution, § 3a.
• “Make any recommendations that he may have for any necessary changes
to District laws;” and
• “Examine any other areas or matters that may be necessary to assist the
Committee as determined by the Chairman.”20
The Special Counsel Resolution also provided that the “Special Counsel is permitted,
through the Committee, to utilize subpoenas to obtain testimony and documents” and provided
that the Special Counsel may take testimony of witnesses by deposition.21 It noted that the
Chairman of the Committee may “retain and delegate investigative duties to Mr. Trout,” and that
Mr. Trout would provide his services on a pro bono basis.22 Finally, the Special Counsel
Resolution directed Mr. Trout to issue a report within 60 days of the conclusion of the
Other attorneys from Trout Cacheris assisted Mr. Trout in this investigation.
At the outset of the investigation, we were briefed by Council staff on District budgeting
and contracting policies and procedures and on the status of the Committee’s investigation. We
researched the applicable laws governing contracting, procurement, and budgeting in the District
of Columbia. We reviewed the information already collected by the Committee, including
numerous documents and the testimony taken at the seven hearings held by the Council between
20 Ex. 5, Special Counsel Resolution, § 3a(c)(1)-(4).
21 Ex. 5, Special Counsel Resolution, § 3a(e)-(f).
22 Ex. 5, Special Counsel Resolution, § 3a. The Committee did not authorize or provide
funding for forensic accountants or experts in construction management or government contracts.
23 Ex. 5, Special Counsel Resolution, § 3a (c)(5).
October 30, 2009 and January 27, 2010. Approximately 45 witnesses appeared during these
roundtables (some more than once), providing more than 45 hours of testimony.
Using that information as a baseline, we proceeded to gather facts and evidence by means
of document subpoenas and requests, Committee hearings, depositions and interviews.
1. Document collection and review
After reviewing the documents gathered by the Committee, we issued 14 document
subpoenas pursuant to our authority under the Special Counsel Resolution and Council Rule 611
and made additional document requests.24 We collected and reviewed thousands of documents
from a variety of sources, including District agencies and private contractors and subcontractors
who worked on the DPR capital projects. We also subpoenaed bank records of Banneker
Ventures and LEAD, as well as Liberty Law Group, a law and consulting firm owned by Omar
Karim, and Liberty Industries, a consulting firm owned by Sinclair Skinner.
Our efforts to obtain documents were at times hindered by incomplete and delayed
productions. For example, on April 7, 2010, we issued a subpoena to Sinclair Skinner for
documents relating to LEAD’s activities, to be produced at the time of his appearance before the
Council on April 15, 2010.25 Skinner made a partial production on April 15. He made a second
production on April 26 and a third production on April 27, which he described as final and
24 Council Rule 611 states: “The Council, any standing committee of the Council, and, if
authorized by the Resolution establishing it, any special committee, may subpoena the
attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of documents and other tangible items
at meetings, hearings, and depositions in connection with an investigation….”
25 Ex. 11, Subpoena to Sinclair Skinner issued by Council member Harry Thomas, Jr.,
Chair, Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation of the Council of the District of Columbia,
Apr. 5, 2010.
complete.26 Skinner then appeared before the Council a second time on April 28, and during that
appearance we requested several specific documents that had not been produced.27 Skinner then
made a fourth production of documents on May 728 and a fifth production on May 24, 29
representing again that this was a final and complete production.30 Yet on May 28, 2010, Skinner
produced a sixth set of responsive documents,31 and still failed to produce documents that should
have been in LEAD’s possession if its records had been adequately maintained.
We also experienced delays and a seriously inadequate response in our efforts to obtain
documents from Omar Karim and Banneker Ventures. Banneker’s initial production of
documents to the Council was notably incomplete. To take one important example, e-mails were
produced with critical attachments missing. We issued a follow-up subpoena to Karim, which
was met with the assertion that no production could be accomplished without significant delay.32
In the end, no additional documents or records were provided by Karim or Banneker, and we did
26 See Ex. 12, Letter from A. Scott Bolden, Counsel for Sinclair Skinner, to Robert Trout,
Special Counsel to the Council of the District of Columbia, Apr. 27, 2010.
27 Joint Roundtable (April 28, 2010) 6:2-11; 136:17-137:14.
28 See Ex. 13, Letter from A. Scott Bolden, Counsel for Sinclair Skinner, to Robert Trout,
Special Counsel to the Council of the District of Columbia, May 7, 2010.
29 See Ex. 14, Letter from A. Scott Bolden, Counsel for Sinclair Skinner, to Robert Trout,
Special Counsel to the Council of the District of Columbia, May 24, 2010.
30 See Ex. 15, Letter from Robert Trout, Trout Cacheris PLLC, to A. Scott Bolden, Reed
Smith, June 4, 2010.
31 See Ex. 16, Letter from A. Scott Bolden, Reed Smith, to Robert Trout, Trout Cacheris
PLLC, May 28, 2010.
32 See Ex. 17, E-mail from Lawrence Sher, Reed Smith, to Robert Trout, Trout Cacheris
PLLC (July 20, 2010, 11:55 EST).
not receive any indication that they made any effort to search for documents in response to our
The process of obtaining documents from District agencies also moved slowly, for a
number of reasons. First, facts learned during the investigation caused us to issue more than one
document request to certain agencies. Second, some agencies took a significant amount of time
to provide documents, requesting successive extensions to our deadlines. Third, some agencies
produced e-mails without attachments, and other agencies produced documents in a manner that
made it difficult to correlate e-mails with their attachments, adding additional time to our
review.33 We also do not believe that we received complete productions from any of the agencies
involved since, among other things, we received many e-mails where a copy was produced by
the sending or receiving party but not by the other.
2. Skinner’s testimony before the Council
Shortly after the Special Counsel was appointed, we took the lead in questioning Sinclair
Skinner, one of the principals of LEAD, during his court-ordered testimony before the
Committee on April 15, 2010 and again on April 28, 2010. During both appearances, Skinner,
through his counsel, refused to answer questions that he claimed were outside of the scope of the
investigation.34 Among other things, these questions related to the activities of Liberty Industries,
LLC, a company solely owned by Skinner, and its relationship to Liberty Law Group, a firm
solely owned by Omar Karim. Special Counsel pursued these inquiries because the evidence
showed close ties between Skinner and Karim through their companies, including transfers of
33 See, e.g., Ex. 18, E-mail from Amy Jackson, Trout Cacheris PLLC, to Kelly Kramer,
Nixon Peabody LLC (Oct. 28, 2010, 1:35 PM EST).
34 See, e.g., Joint Roundtable (Apr. 15, 2010) 143:11-145:3 (refusing to answer questions
about Liberty Industries or Liberty Law Group).
more than one million dollars from Liberty Law Group to Liberty Industries between 2008 and
April 2010. The relationship between Skinner and Karim raised serious questions about whether
the contracts for engineering work were awarded in a fair and open manner. Although Skinner’s
objections to our inquiries about Liberty Industries and Liberty Law Group were overruled,35
Skinner’s counsel nevertheless directed him not to answer or provide related documents. The
Committee held Skinner’s appearance open at the conclusion of the April 28, 2010 hearing
subject to resolving these objections.36
After meetings with Skinner’s counsel, we were advised that Skinner had changed his
position and would testify about the subjects he had previously claimed were outside the scope
of the investigation. By agreement, the follow-up testimony was taken by deposition. Because of
Skinner’s continuing objections and scheduling conflicts, that deposition was not held until
October 6, 2010, nearly six months after Skinner’s original appearance before the Committee. As
will be discussed in more detail below, however, Skinner’s professed willingness to testify
3. Depositions and interviews
In addition to Sinclair Skinner, we deposed 14 witnesses, either through their voluntary
35 See, e.g., Joint Roundtable 145:4-145:15 (Apr. 15, 2010); see also Council Rule 621
(providing that a witness may claim statutory or common law privileges recognized by the
Superior Court of the District of Columbia, but if the presiding member determines the claim of
privilege is not warranted, he or she shall direct the witness to answer the question, and a
continued claim of privilege constitutes contumacy by the witness).
36 Joint Roundtable (Apr. 28, 2010) 137:15-19.
cooperation or testimonial subpoenas.37 The deponents included District government employees,
as well as contractors and subcontractors for the DPR capital projects. Several depositions were
conducted in executive session, 38 but have since been released for use in this Report.
We filed a motion to compel with regard to one witness: Omar Karim. Karim appeared
for a deposition, but refused to answer questions or to produce documents related to Liberty Law
Group and his relationship with Sinclair Skinner and Liberty Industries. Karim, like Skinner,
claimed that these questions were irrelevant to the investigation.39 Karim similarly refused to
answer questions about ties between Liberty Law Group and other companies that also were
awarded contracts to work on the DPR capital projects. Accordingly, Special Counsel sought
permission from the Council to file a motion to compel, which was granted in a resolution passed
unanimously on August 12, 2010.40 On September 17, 2010, the Superior Court entered an order
finding that these issues were within the bounds of the investigation, and ordering Karim to
37 Depositions were taken at the Council’s chambers in the John A. Wilson Building and, as
is the Council’s practice, were preserved by audiotape recording, using the technology made
available to us by the Council. After each deposition, electronic copies of the audiotapes were
provided to the witness or their counsel. The audiotape of each deposition was subsequently
transcribed. We learned after the fact that due to errors in the operation of the recording
equipment during four of the depositions, some portions of the witnesses’ testimony were not
captured on the recordings. We advised counsel for each of these deponents of the recording
issues, and provided them with the opportunity to propose solutions that would leave each
deponent satisfied that the record accurately reflected his or her statements. We also provided
counsel for these deponents with copies of our detailed notes of the depositions and with the
opportunity to review this Report before final submission to the Council. We have not been
advised of any inaccuracies in our descriptions of the witnesses’ statements. Where we rely on
any portions of the testimony that were not recorded, we treat that testimony as an un-sworn
interview, and cite to them as “Dep. Notes.”
38 See Ex. 19, Council Rule 504.
39 Deposition of Omar Karim (August 5, 2010) at 76:1-14. Karim, Skinner and their
companies were represented by the same counsel in this investigation.
40 Ex. 20, The Enforcement of Subpoena of Omar Karim Resolution of 2010, effective
August 12, 2010 (Res.18-615).
answer questions and to produce the documents relating to Liberty Law Group that he had
previously refused to provide.41 Karim, however, did not produce any additional documents. He
was re-deposed on September 21, 2010. But as described more fully below, his testimony was
more evasive than responsive, and he provided virtually no meaningful information about the
activities of Liberty Law Group or Liberty Industries.
In addition to taking depositions, we interviewed 30 witnesses, including contractors,
architects and engineers who worked on the DPR capital projects, employees and former
employees of a number of District agencies, Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr., and Attorney
General Peter Nickles. Because the projects were originally slated in 2008 to be managed by the
Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM), and were again transferred to
OPEFM after the Council’s action in December 2009, we interviewed Allen Lew, then Executive
Director of OPEFM, and the two OPEFM project managers who were assigned responsibility for
the projects: Will Mangrum of Brailsford and Dunlavey and Marcos Miranda of McKissack &
McKissack, about those circumstances.42 Since, as noted above, the appointment of Special
Counsel did not provide for the engagement of independent experts in construction management
or any other field, we asked the project managers, engineers, architects, and others we did
interview to shed light on industry practices in general and their practices in particular, and while
41 Ex. 21, Council of the District of Columbia v. Omar Karim, No. 1122-2010 (D.C. Super.
Ct. Sept. 17, 2010) (order granting motion to compel testimony and compliance with Council
subpoena duces tecum).
42 While the projects were originally assigned to OPEFM, Brailsford and McKissack
worked on the RFP for design-build services that was issued by OPEFM on February 2, 2009.
See Ex. 22, D.C. Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, Request for Proposals,
Design-Build Renovation Services, Recreation Centers, Solicitation #: GM-09-M-0204-FM
(Feb. 2, 2009). Brailsford also submitted a response to the project management RFQ issued by
DCHE on March 9, 2009, but was not chosen. McKissack did not respond to the DCHE RFQ.
we do not proffer these comments as expert opinion, we include them in the report where
We also requested the opportunity to depose or interview Mayor Adrian Fenty.
Responding on behalf of the Mayor, the Attorney General asserted that the Council did not have
the authority to compel the Mayor to testify, and declined our request for a deposition.43
However, he indicated that the Mayor would answer a limited number of written questions:
… in the spirit of transparency and cooperation, I am informed that the Mayor is
willing to answer certain specific questions that are neither privileged nor
repetitive of questions already addressed by other witnesses in the investigation.
In order to preserve precedent, however, I propose that the questions be submitted
in writing and answered in writing. Given these parameters, I’m certain such
questions would number no more than between 5-10 separate queries.44
After consultation with the Committee and in light of the evidence already gathered, Special
Counsel decided to accept the Mayor’s offer to answer written questions in lieu of a deposition
or interview. A copy of the written questions and the Mayor’s answers is attached to this
E. Limitations of the Investigation
Pursuant to the Special Counsel Resolution, our investigation focused on the transfer of
funds and authority for the DPR capital projects to DMPED and then to DCHA, the awarding of
contracts to carry out the work on those projects, and events relating to termination of the
contracts and the December 2009 payment. We did not have the benefit of forensic accounting
expertise in our investigation. While the Joint Roundtable hearings exposed possible funding
43 See Ex. 23, Letter from Peter J. Nickles to Robert P. Trout (Dec. 3, 2010).
45 Ex. 24, Letter from Peter J. Nickles to Robert P. Trout (Dec. 30, 2010).
deficiencies, questions about DMPED’s decisions to authorize spending in excess of amounts
budgeted for particular parks or allocated for the particular fiscal year,46 and inconsistencies
between the list of projects DMPED directed Banneker to manage and the list of projects
covered by the MOUs, the Committee agreed that since the D.C. Auditor was conducting a
parallel investigation into those matters, questions related to reprogramming and anti-deficiency
act concerns fell outside the scope of our investigation. For the same reason, we did not
undertake an audit of Banneker’s invoices.
One question we were asked to address was whether any of the circumstances warranted
further review by the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia or any other
enforcement agency.47 As Special Counsel, we had the investigative tools provided under the
Council’s rules, but we did not have access to the government’s full range of investigatory
resources, and we could not exercise the powers available to a public prosecutor conducting a
grand jury investigation, including the power to grant immunity to certain witnesses. Thus, we
do not represent that we have uncovered every fact relating to the DPR capital projects. Where
we have uncovered sufficient facts to give rise to a concern that potential violations of law may
have occurred, or there are questions that cannot be answered without the tools available to a
46 David Jannarone operated under the mistaken impression that DMPED had “pool
authority” to move funds between projects and between fiscal years. Jannarone Dep. 93:5-94:2.
DPR employees were troubled by DMPED’s approach to funding and brought their concerns to
Jannarone’s attention on several occasions before he sought legal guidance on the issue. Ex. 25,
E-mail from Bianca Fagin (DPR) to Jacquelyn Glover (EOM), Bridget Stesney (DPR), and
David Janifer (DPR) (Aug. 3, 2009 2:40 PM EST); Janifer Dep. 105:5-106:10. DCHE personnel
did not track this issue at all, and instead saw their task as managing the budgets provided to
them by DMPED. Interview with Asmara Habte, Contractor, DCHA (Jul. 27, 2010).
47 Ex. 5, Special Counsel Resolution.
prosecutor, we have recommended that the issues be referred for investigation by the appropriate
This section briefly outlines several legal and regulatory issues that are relevant to the
events under investigation: (1) the requirement of Council approval for District contracts of more
than one million dollars; (2) the differing procurement rules applicable to different District
agencies; (3) procurement requirements relating to small, local, and disadvantaged business
enterprises; and (4) the use of memoranda of understanding (MOUs) as a means of transferring
authority and budgetary funds between District agencies.
A. The Council Approval Requirement
Congress enacted the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental
Reorganization Act (“Home Rule Act”) in part to delegate certain legislative powers to the
District of Columbia.48 The Home Rule Act, in a provision now codified as Section 1-204.51 of
the D.C. Code, requires the Council to approve certain types of contracts to be entered by the
District and its agencies before those contracts can be valid. The Mayor must submit to the
Council for approval any contract for goods and services “involving expenditures in excess of
$1,000,000 during a 12-month period.”49 The Mayor must also seek Council approval for
48 See D.C. Code § 1-201.02(a).
49 D.C. Code § 1-204.51(b)(1) (“No contract involving expenditures in excess of
$1,000,000 during a 12-month period may be made unless the Mayor submits the contract to the
Council for its approval and the Council approves the contract (in accordance with criteria
established by act of the Council).”).
multiyear contracts for goods and services.50 In the D.C. Court of Appeals’ 2007 decision in
Fairman v. District of Columbia,51 dealing with the multiyear contract approval provision, the
court held that any contract requiring Council approval that is not so approved is “invalid.”52
DCHA is an independent authority of the D.C. government, created in 2000 to construct
and manage public housing in the District. The majority of DCHA’s activities are funded by the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. DCHA has also formed a wholly-owned
subsidiary called D.C. Housing Enterprises (“DCHE”). DCHE carries out real estate
development and construction activities on a fee basis, with its earnings going to support
DCHA’s mission.53 Until the Committee began investigating the DPR capital projects, DCHA
took the position that as a federally-funded independent authority, neither it nor its subsidiaries
were subject to the Council approval requirement. As a result, Banneker’s program management
contract with DCHE was not submitted to the Council for approval – even though the contract
amount was well in excess of $1 million, and it involved District money, not federal funds.
50 Congress authorized this requirement as part of the District of Columbia Appropriations
Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-134, § 134, Apr. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 1321-92. It is now codified at
D.C. Code section 1-204.51(c), which provides, in part: “No [multiyear contract] shall be valid
unless the Mayor submits the contract to the Council for its approval and the Council approves
the contract (in accordance with criteria established by act of the Council). The Council shall be
required to take affirmative action to approve the contract within 45 days. If no action is taken to
approve the contract within 45 calendar days, the contract shall be deemed disapproved.”
51 934 A. 2d 438 (D.C. 2007). While Fairman focused on the language of the multiyear
contract provision, the same policies underlie the requirement for Council approval of contracts
in excess of $1 million.
52 Id. at 448.
53 According to Michael Kelly, who was the Executive Director of DCHA when DCHE was
created, DCHE’s purpose was to use available engineers and project managers to earn nonfederal dollars to supplement the funds received by DCHA from HUD. Interview with Michael
Kelly, former Executive Director, DCHA (Nov. 4, 2010).
DCHA took this position despite a 1996 opinion of the District’s Corporation Counsel
concluding that independent agencies were governed by the Council approval requirement,54 and
despite being advised by the Attorney General’s Office in 2007 and 2008 of its view that DCHA
was subject to the requirement. DCHA only changed its position in October 2009, after the
Attorney General issued a formal opinion concluding that “without any doubt,” DCHA must
abide by the Home Rule Act and its Council approval provision with respect to contracts
involving District funds.55
Because of the importance of this issue to the events under investigation, it is discussed in
detail in Section VI below.
B. Laws Governing District Procurements
The Procurement Practices Act (“PPA”) is the District’s primary procurement law. It is
implemented through Title 27 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.56 The statute
and regulations set the standards and procedures for purchases of goods and services by the
District. The PPA was amended in 1997, primarily to centralize procurement authority and
activities in the Office of Contracting and Procurement (“OCP”), headed by the District’s Chief
54 Ex. 26, Opinion of Corporation Counsel, Is Council review required for proposed
contracts of independent agencies in excess of one million dollars during a 12-month period?,
May 10, 1996 (“1996 Opinion”).
55 Ex. 27, Opinion of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia, Whether the DCHA
must seek approval of the City Council for contracts for goods and services involving
expenditures in excess of $1,000,000 during a 12-month period, Oct. 23, 2009 (“October 23
Opinion”). The Attorney General’s opinion does not explicitly address the applicability of the
Council review requirement to DCHA contracts involving federal funds, and this remains an
56 D.C. Code § 2-301.1 et seq.
Procurement Officer.57 OCP personnel issue solicitations and enter contracts on behalf of District
agencies. If Council approval is required, OCP submits the contract to the Council prior to
Most, but not all, District agencies are obligated to follow the PPA and to conduct
procurements through OCP.59 However, some of the agencies that are subject to the PPA have
their own procurement authority and may enter contracts without going through OCP. And
certain agencies are exempt from both the PPA and OCP and may do their own contracting
following their own procurement policies and procedures.
Each of the three agencies involved in the DPR capital projects falls into a different
procurement regime. DPR is subject to the authority of both the PPA and OCP. DMPED is
subject to the PPA but has its own procurement authority by delegation from the Mayor, and
may enter contracts without going through OCP. DCHA is exempt from both the PPA and
OCP.60 It has the authority to “[a]dopt and administer its own procurement and contracting
57 44 D.C. Reg. 1423 (Jan. 3, 1997), codified at D.C. Code § 2-301.05.
58 Interview with David Gragan, Chief Procurement Officer of the District of Columbia,
Office of Contracting and Procurement (Jul. 28, 2010).
59 D.C. Code § 2-301.04(a) (“Except as provided in § 2-303.20, this chapter shall apply to
all departments, agencies, instrumentalities, and employees of the District government, including
agencies which are subordinate to the Mayor, independent agencies, boards, and commissions . .
60 There is one exception to this exemption, regarding the Contract Appeals Board, but it is
not applicable here. D.C. Law 13-105 (2000); D.C. Code § 6-219; D.C. Code § 2-303.20(m)
(“Nothing in this chapter shall affect the authority of the District of Columbia Housing
Authority, except that subchapter IX of Unit A of this chapter shall apply to contract protests,
appeals, and claims arising from procurements of the Housing Authority.”).
policies and procedures in accordance with” D.C. Code section 6-219.61 Its subsidiary, DCHE,
also has its own procurement policies.
Like the Home Rule Act, the PPA requires Council approval for multiyear contracts and
for contracts in excess of one million dollars. Unlike the Home Rule Act, however, these
provisions only apply to contracts governed by the PPA, and therefore do not apply to DCHA.62
C. Local, Small and Disadvantaged Businesses
The Department of Small & Local Business Development (“DSLBD”) was established
with the goal of fostering greater opportunities for local, small and disadvantaged businesses to
participate in District contracting and procurement.63 One of the ways it does this is through the
Certified Business Enterprise (“CBE”) program. Local business enterprises that are also small or
disadvantaged, or meet certain other criteria, may be certified as CBEs.64 Each District agency is
required to meet the goal of procuring and contracting 50% of the dollar volume of its goods and
services to small business enterprises.65 Of particular importance here, CBEs are entitled to
61 D.C. Code § 6-203(16).
62 D.C. Code § 2-301.05d (“Pursuant to § 1-205.51(b) the Mayor and all independent
agencies and entities of the District government shall submit to the Council for approval any
proposal to contract out services covered by this act that involves expenditures in excess of
$1,000,000 during a 12-month period.” (emphasis added)). The Home Rule Act requirement
applies to contracts of any District agency whether covered by the PPA or not.
63 D.C. Code § 2-218.13(a).
64 D.C. Code § 2-218.31 through 218.37. To qualify as “local,” a business must have “its
principal office located physically in the District of Columbia,” and must require “that its chief
executive officer and the highest level managerial employees of the business enterprise maintain
their offices and perform their managerial functions in the District,” as well as meeting other
standards. D.C. Code § 2-218.31.
65 D.C. Code § 2-218.41.
receive certain preferences from agencies when they are evaluating bids or proposals.66 In the
case of proposals, points are added to a business’s score, with the number added depending on
which LSDBE categories the business falls into; in the case of a bid, the statute provides for a
deemed reduction in the bidder’s price.67 The statute also provides for mandatory set-asides of
small contracts for small business enterprises.68 In addition, the statute imposes requirements on
the dollar volume of subcontracts to be awarded to small business enterprises or CBEs under
construction contracts greater than $250,000.69
D. Memoranda of Understanding
District law permits District departments, offices and agencies to place orders with other
District agencies for goods or services.70 Such orders are documented in Memoranda of
Understanding (“MOUs”) between the agencies.
66 D.C. Code § 2-218.43.
68 D.C. Code § 2-218.44. David Gragan also noted that set-asides are permissible even
where not mandatory. Interview with David Gragan.
69 D.C. Code § 2-218.46.
70 D.C. Code § 1-301.01(k)(1) (“The Mayor may authorize the heads of District
departments, offices, and agencies to place orders with any other department, office, or agency of
the District for materials, supplies, equipment, work, or services of any kind that the
requisitioned department, office, or agency may be in a position to supply or equipped to render;
provided, that the Mayor shall submit annually to the Council a report of all Memoranda of
Understanding between District agencies involving an exchange of materials, supplies,
equipment, work, or services of any kind. …”). Effective October 22, 2009, D.C. Law 18-63
amended the first sentence of subsection (k)(1), which had required the District’s Chief
Procurement Officer to authorize MOUs. 56 D.C. Reg. 3053 (Jul. 28, 2009). This change was
proposed by CPO David Gragan. He felt that if two agency heads had already agreed that an
MOU was appropriate, his review used resources and added delay, but little value. Interview
with David Gragan.
Until the statute was changed effective October 2009, all MOUs had to be approved by
the Chief Procurement Officer. David Gragan, the CPO through the relevant period, estimated
that he signed 3 or 4 per week.71 MOUs are used for many different purposes, and often involve
relatively small sums. Gragan indicated that a typical MOU might involve an agency that needs
to provide a certain type of training to its employees and procures that service from another
agency that has trainers on its staff.72 According to Gragan, MOUs are not treated as open market
procurement contracts.73 They are not required to be submitted to the Council for approval.
Not only did the MOUs in this case – from DPR to DMPED and then from DMPED to
DCHA – transfer millions of dollars in parks funding, they also had the effect of moving
procurement for the parks projects to DCHA and DCHE, which were subject to different
procurement regulations than DPR and DMPED, and which took the position that they were
exempt from the Council review requirement. These actions spawned the concerns that underlie
CHRONOLOGY OF KEY EVENTS
February 27, 2009 MOU between DPR and DMPED for up to $40,350,000 for
DPR Capital Projects.
March 9, 2009 Request for Qualifications (“RFQ”) for Project Management
issued by DCHE.
March 11, 2009 DCHA Board authorizes entry into an MOU with DMPED (but
the MOU is not signed until July).
March 12, 2009 DCHA assigns its tasks under the MOU to DCHE.
March 18, 2009 David Jannarone (DMPED) asks Omar Karim (Banneker) to
prepare budget spreadsheets and cashflows for DPR projects.
March 27, 2009 13 bidders, including a team made up of Banneker Ventures
and Regan Associates, submit responses to the Project
April 29, 2009 Contractor selection panel recommends that Banneker
Ventures-Regan Associates be awarded the project
April 30, 2009 DCHE sends notice of its intent to award the project
management contract to Banneker-Regan.
May 4, 2009 Banneker hires LEAD under a letter agreement for consulting
and surveying work on parks.
May 15, 2009 LEAD retains Currie and Associates, LLC to complete 5
June 2, 2009 Banneker issues an RFQ for architects/engineers for the DPR
June 3, 2009 Banneker issues an RFQ for civil engineering and surveying
for the DPR projects.
June 10, 2009 Banneker submits invoice #1 to DMPED.
June 11, 2009 LEAD responds to Banneker’s RFQ for engineering services.
June 26, 2009 Banneker submits invoice #2 to DMPED.
July 14, 2009 DCHE Board authorizes entry into project management
contract with Banneker-Regan “joint venture;” resolution
references flat fee but not 9% mark-up.
July 14, 2009 DCHE signs Project Management Services contract with
Banneker (effective date May 1, 2009). Project management
fee is fixed fee of $4,212,600, plus bonuses, and a 9% mark-up
on consultants’ fees.
July 20, 2009 Banneker issues RFQ for general contractors
July 20, 2009 Banneker and Regan Associates execute consulting agreement;
Regan will receive 48% of Banneker’s fee, not including the
9% mark up.
July 22 & 25, 2009 Consulting Services Agreements between Banneker and LEAD
for LEAD to provide surveying, civil engineering and
July 31, 2009 First amendment to MOU between DPR and DMPED, adding
parks and increasing amount to $68,394,795.64.
July 31, 2009 MOU between DMPED and DCHA for $40,350,000 for DPR
capital projects. DCHA to receive $700,000 fee.
July 31, 2009 Banneker submits invoice #3 to DMPED.
August 11, 2009 Banneker issues Requests for Proposals (RFP) to qualified
general contractors for large, medium, and small projects.
Sept. 2, 2009 Banneker submits invoice #4 to DCHE and DMPED
Sept. 14, 2009 Second amendment to MOU between DPR and DMPED,
adding parks and increasing amount to $86,854,000.
Sept. 21, 2009 Consulting Services Agreement between Banneker and LEAD
for LEAD to provide environmental site assessments.
October 6, 2009 Banneker submits invoice #5 to DCHE and DMPED.
October 22, 2009 Councilmembers send letter to Mayor Fenty raising questions
about DCHA’s award of contracts for DPR projects.
October 23, 2009 Attorney General issues formal opinion, in response to request
from DCHA general counsel made the same day, concluding
that DCHA must obtain Council approval for contracts over $1
October 26, 2009 Attorney General issues memorandum stating that his October
23 opinion is not retroactive, so any previously executed
DCHA contracts are valid and binding.
October 30, 2009 First Joint Roundtable Hearing on the DPR contracts
November 3, 2009 Banneker submits invoice #6 to DCHE and DMPED.
November 3, 2009 DC Council passes Budget Transparency Emergency Act to cut
off flow of funds from DPR to DCHA.
November 12, 2009 DCHA Board Chair William Slover proposes a resolution
terminating the MOU with DMPED due to insufficient funds.
November 20, 2009 DCHE issues stop work notice to Banneker, effective on
November 20, 2009 Mayor Fenty removes Slover as Chair of DCHA Board.
November 30, 2009 Work stops.
December 8, 2009 Banneker submits invoice #7 to DCHE and DMPED
December 9, 2009 DCHE and Banneker execute Change Order No. 1 to the
Banneker contract, expanding the scope of the projects and
adjusting compensation. New fixed fee of $3,778,488 with a
5% mark up on consultants, capped at $350,000.
December 9, 2009 The MOU between DMPED and DCHA is amended, to
transfer up to $99,354,000.
December 9/10, 2009 The revised project management contract is submitted to the
Council for approval.
December 15, 2009 DC Council disapproves the Banneker contract for project
management services on DPR projects; authorizes OPEFM to
handle the DPR projects.
December 24, 2009 DCHE enters into a Settlement Agreement with
Banneker/Regan and pays Banneker $2,554,071 for invoices 5
– 8 (portions of invoice #7 left open for further negotiation).
January 5, 2010 Banneker sends a settlement proposal for contract close-out
January 14, 2010 Banneker submits “final” invoice #9 to DMPED and DCHE.
February 25, 2010 Banneker issues cease and desist letters to project architects,
claiming ownership of drawings.
July 8, 2010 Attorney General and Banneker sign settlement agreement
providing for $550,000 payment to Banneker; no payment
made as of March 1, 2011.
FACTS AND ANALYSIS
This portion of the report outlines the facts that we found through our investigation, and
provides answers, where possible, to the key questions raised by the DPR capital projects
I. BACKGROUND: DPR, WALKER JONES, DEANWOOD, AND THE
In order to understand why the DPR capital projects were handled as they were, it is
important to examine DPR’s prior experience with the construction and procurement process,
and particularly with Walker Jones and Deanwood, two major projects that also involved
DMPED and DCHE.74
A. DPR’s Inability to Move Capital Projects Forward
There is a consensus that during the 2007-2008 time period, DPR was unable to construct
capital projects in a timely manner. Clark Ray, the director of DPR from August 2007 through
April 2009, acknowledged that there were a number of funded projects, particularly recreation
centers – which are bigger, more complex and more expensive than parks – that were in the
“queue” for construction but had not moved forward.75 Witnesses offered a number of reasons
for this problem, including the lack of qualified staff and insufficient “drive” on the part of DPR
management. Although DPR had about 10 full time positions in its capital projects division at
74 For background purposes, this report discusses other DPR projects, and particularly
Walker Jones and Deanwood, but those projects were not within the scope of our investigation.
We did not undertake to examine the propriety of any transactions relating to those projects.
75 Interview with Clark Ray, former Director of D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation,
(Oct. 26, 2010).
that time, half of those were planners and architects, not construction managers.76 Of the
remaining positions, in mid-2008 only one was filled with an experienced construction engineer,
and he was overextended.77
Another significant reason for delay was the procurement process.78 Because DPR does
not have independent procurement authority, it could not handle on its own any of the many
contracts that are required for a construction project. Instead, DPR, like other agencies without
procurement authority, was supposed to turn to the Office of Contracts and Procurement (OCP)
for its contracting.79 OCP’s function is to buy goods and services for all covered agencies,
including DPR. For various reasons, however, the OCP process was slow, and particularly illsuited for handling complex construction projects.
76 Interview with Jason Turner, former Chief of Capital Projects and Planning, D.C.
Department of Parks and Recreation (Oct. 19, 2010).
77 Id.; see also Deposition of David Janifer, Capital Projects Division, DPR (Jul. 20, 2010)
at 18:12-14: “… DPR has … project management capability, but it doesn’t have the capacity for
the number of jobs that we have to manage.”
78 Interview with Clark Ray; Interview with Jason Turner.
79 David Janifer of DPR’s capital projects division described the process as follows:
… DPR requests money for a construction budget. All of the actions or the
contracts are negotiated by a procurements office, which was formerly named
Office of Contracts and Procurements and now it’s the Department of Real Estate
DPR identifies projects that it would like to engage in. It provides all that
information to the procurement office and the procurement office actively solicits
all the vendors or contractors who actually perform services, perform the
Janifer Dep. 12:18-13:5.
David Gragan became the District’s Chief Procurement Officer, and head of OCP, in
June 2007.80 When he started, OCP had approximately 150 employees; as of mid-2010, it had
approximately 100. OCP is responsible for procurement for construction as well as other types of
goods and services. According to Gragan, this structure is unusual. Due to the complexity of
construction contracting, in other jurisdictions it is usually assigned to a separate, specialized
agency. In an effort to concentrate expertise, Gragan decided to delegate authority for
construction procurement to the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) for “horizontal”
construction (roads and bridges) and to the Office of Property Management (“OPM”) – renamed
the Department of Real Estate Services (“DRES”) in August 2009 – for “vertical” construction
(buildings). According to Gragan, OPM initially did not embrace the procurement function
because it did not feel it had appropriate capability. Gragan revisited the issue and in 2008
assigned all OCP employees focused on construction to OPM.81 DRES now has both a
construction procurement group and a construction management group. Like procurements done
through OCP, DRES procurements are subject to the PPA.82
Gragan described OCP’s procurement process as “built for deliberation, not for speed.”
The process is purposefully slow to some degree, in order to provide for control over the
expenditure of public funds. The DRES employees we interviewed agreed that working under
the PPA slowed the construction process down because of the many upfront approvals and
80 Interview with David Gragan.
81 Interview with David Gragan; Interview with Diane Wooden, Procurement, D.C., DRES,
and Gerick Smith, Deputy Director Construction Division, DRES (Dec.7, 2010).
82 While the DPR capital projects are now being handled by OPEFM, DRES does
construction procurement for other DPR projects, with project management handled by DPR.
Interview with Diane Wooden and Gerick Smith.
compliance documents required to issue a solicitation and then to award a contract.83 Issues with
internal OCP processes, capacity and staff capabilities also affect the pace of OCP
OCP’s problems were well known to the administration. Albert noted that as early as the
transition to the Fenty regime, “there were serious conversations about how do we make OCP a
better functioning agency to support the District government?”85
Clark Ray and others also pointed to the types of contracts that OCP entered as a source
of delay. One key distinction they saw was between “design-build” and “design-bid-build”
contracts. Under a design-build contract, one firm or team (referred to as the design-builder) is
hired to both design and construct a project. In a design-bid-build procurement, the architect is
hired first, and the procurement of the general contractor cannot begin until the drawings are
complete. Although each method has advantages and disadvantages, many witnesses expressed
the view that using a design-build contract can reduce the time it takes to complete a project
because, among other things, the contractor can start to mobilize before the drawings are
complete. Ray noted, however, that OCP was reluctant to enter design-build contracts, and some
District employees believed that OCP was precluded from doing so. In fact, D.C. law does not
prohibit the use of design-build contracts.86 However, Ray’s perception that OCP was reluctant
to use such contracts was correct. The DRES employees we interviewed stated that the District
84 Interview with David Gragan; Deposition of Neil Albert, City Administrator and former
Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (Oct. 19, 2010) 89:5-91:3.
85 Id. at 89:1-3.
86 See D.C. Code § 2-303.11.
typically does not use the design-build method on larger projects because it leaves the city with
less control over the design process, and OCP does not presently have a standard form designbuild contract. As will be discussed further below, OCP also does not use “guaranteed maximum
price” contracts, which also can facilitate early mobilization.
B. DPR Looked to Other Agencies for Help with Construction.
Faced with these issues with OCP, Clark Ray looked for ways to make parks construction
move more quickly. He determined that he could bypass OCP by partnering with other district
agencies that had independent contracting authority.87 Ray identified DCHA, OPEFM and
DMPED as agencies with procurement authority that he could work with to get projects built.
And while OPEFM and DMPED were subject to the PPA, DCHA was not. Instead, DCHA was
governed by its own procurement policies. Its subsidiary, DCHE, also had its own set of policies.
The partnering arrangements were created via MOUs between the agencies. According to
Ray, he obtained David Gragan’s approval to handle parks projects in this manner.88 For
example, DPR entered into the following MOUs for parks-related construction:
• MOU between DPR and DCHA, effective date July 6, 2007, signed by DPR and
DCHA in August, 2007, for demolition of the existing facility at the Wilson
• MOU between DPR and DCHA for field lighting, signed in August 2008.90
87 Interview with Clark Ray.
89 Ex. 28, Memorandum of Understanding Between the District of Columbia Department of
Parks and Recreation and the District of Columbia Housing Authority (Jul. 6, 2007).
90 Ex. 29, Memorandum of Understanding Between the District of Columbia Department of
Parks and Recreation and the District of Columbia Housing Authority (Aug. 21, 2008).
• MOU between DPR and OPEFM in August 2008 for the development and
construction of a new Stoddert Recreation Center at 39th and Calvert Streets,
• MOU between DPR and DCHA in November 2008 for redevelopment of the park
at 14th and Girard Streets, N.W.92
From DPR’s point of view, use of an MOU was not seen in itself as a means for evading
the Council approval requirement. The current and former DPR employees that we spoke to were
well aware that contracts in excess of $1 million had to be submitted to the Council. Further, it
was their understanding that involving DMPED or DCHA in a project would not change that
requirement. The MOUs listed above contained language referencing the necessity of
compliance with the Council approval requirement. DPR’s then general counsel told us that she
was aware that DCHA was not subject to the PPA, and inserted this language to be sure that the
Council approval requirement was met.93
For example, the MOU for the park at 14th and Girard addressed the Council approval
issue in its termination provision, stating that “This MOU shall automatically terminate if the
Council fails to approve the construction contract for the 14th & Girard Playground Project or at
any time lawfully appropriated funds are not available.” 94 The MOU between DPR and DCHA
for field lighting specifically assigns to DCHA the responsibility to
Insure compliance with all District of Columbia laws and regulations and secure
advance approvals, if any, relative to the award of any contract hereunder
91 Ex. 30.
92 Ex. 31, Memorandum of Understanding Between the District of Columbia Department of
Parks and Recreation and the District of Columbia Housing Authority (Dec. 11, 2008).
93 Interview with Marie Claire Brown, former General Counsel, DPR (Sep. 9, 2010).
94 Ex. 31, at 7. DCHA, however, did not believe that it had any obligation to take contracts
to the Council for approval.
including, but not limited to, Council approval pursuant to D.C. Official Code §1-
204.51 of any contract involving expenditures in excess of $1,000,000.95
We have not reviewed the contracts awarded for the field lighting project, but because the total
budget under the MOU was $1,023,000, it is unlikely that any of the contracts met the $1 million
threshold for Council review. However, we note that inclusion of this provision obligated DCHA
by contract to take on the responsibility for obtaining Council approval – an approach that was
not used in the DPR capital projects MOUs.
C. Walker Jones
In addition to MOUs for smaller projects, DPR was involved in two significantly larger
projects with other agencies prior to the capital projects MOU: Walker Jones and Deanwood.
Both of these projects, and particularly Walker Jones, are frequently cited as models for many
aspects of the DPR capital projects procurements. Although an examination of these projects was
outside of the scope of our investigation, key background facts are discussed below.
The Walker Jones project involved the redevelopment of two school sites in the
Northwest One neighborhood of Ward 6 into a new school, library and recreation center. Walker
Jones was part of the “New Communities” initiative, for which DMPED was the implementing
agency.96 Because Walker Jones had school, library and parks components, its funding came
from three agencies (D.C. Public Schools, D.C. Public Libraries and DPR), with coordination
provided by DMPED.97
95 Ex. 29 at 5.
96 Albert Dep. 41:4-11.
97 DMPED’s general mission is promoting economic development in the District. See
Deposition of Valerie Santos, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (Sept. 27,
2010) at 15:1-3. It does that by trying to get property owned by the District into productive uses,
and by negotiating tax increment financing and other public finance tools. Id. at 15:14-22.
DMPED sought DCHA’s assistance in constructing the Walker Jones project. According
to Neil Albert, who was Deputy Mayor at that time, DMPED involved DCHA in Walker Jones
because DCHA “had the capacity to – and the history and the track record of getting things done
quickly.”98 Albert also believed that involving DCHA was a way of “getting program
management oversight to augment the puny program management … expertise that I had within
DMPED.”99 At the time, David Jannarone was the only DMPED employee with construction
DMPED and DCHA had also worked together on other New Communities issues. As
explained in a memorandum from Michael Kelly, then-Executive Director of DCHA,
DMPED and DCHA have been partners in the New Communities
initiative. The New Communities Initiative focuses on the District’s most
distressed neighborhoods and contemplates methods to transform them into
vibrant and productive areas, by focusing on the physical and human capital needs
of residents. This wide reaching initiative aims to leverage DMPED spending to
direct $1 billion in public and private funds to some of the most troubled
neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.
One of the communities to be revitalized through this program is the
Northwest One Neighborhood in Ward 6. … To date, DCHA has worked closely
with the District on the New Communities Initiatives including providing under
various memoranda of understanding with DMPED services that include master
planning, facilitation of community planning and resident participation, assistance
with resident tracking and program evaluation, various predevelopment work, and
98 Albert Dep. 41:14-16.
99 Id. at 41:19-21. Although real estate development is part of DMPED’s portfolio, most of
its real estate related activities involved private developers who were constructing projects on
land owned or sold to them by the District. Id. at 35:14-36:8; Santos Dep. 36:9-22. According to
Albert, DMPED was just “standing up” its own construction management function in 2007 when
the Walker Jones project was getting underway. Albert Dep. 32:20-33:3.
100 From Special Counsel’s notes from the unrecorded portion of the Deposition of David
Jannarone, former Development Director for DMPED taken on September 29, 2010 (hereafter,
“Jannarone Dep. Notes”).
the management and joint ownership of Temple Courts, a troubled Project-based
Section 8 HCVP property.
* * *
Because of DMPED’s favorable experience working with DCHA and
DCHE in similar endeavors and DCHA’s active participation in the Northwest
One redevelopment effort, DMPED has asked DCHA to redevelop the Walker
Jones Elementary School and R.H. Terrell Junior High School sites. DCHA
intends to assign the MOU to its wholly-owned subsidiary, DCHE, for DCHE to
perform in an expeditious and cost-effective manner.101
DMPED and DCHA signed the MOU for Walker Jones in September 2007.102 DMPED
was to provide DCHA with funds from the three agencies involved, and DCHA was responsible
for using the funds “to perform or cause to be performed the demolition, development and
construction services necessary for the Project, at the request and direction of the DMPED.”103
DMPED retained “programmatic and policy jurisdiction” over the activities under the MOU.104
Other than the general statement that “[t]he Parties agree to comply with all applicable laws,
rules and regulations whether now in force or hereafter enacted or promulgated,”105 there is no
reference in this MOU to the requirement for Council approval of any contracts exceeding $1
million. The budget for the project was $47,200,000, and DCHA was to receive a $200,000 fee
for its services, to be paid by DMPED.106
101 Ex. 32, Memorandum from Michael Kelly to DCHA Board of Commissioners (Sept. 12,
2007), at 1-2.
102 Ex. 33, Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of the Deputy Mayor for
Planning and Economic Development and the District of Columbia Housing Authority (Sept. 13,
103 Id. at § 2(B)(1).
104 Id. at § 2(A)(2).
105 Id. at § 8.
106 Id. at § 5(A).
Prior to Walker Jones, DCHA had entered into other MOUs with District agencies. A
chart provided by DCHA lists 12 other MOUs involving DCHA between 2003 and 2007.107 But
the $47 million Walker Jones MOU was by far the largest. Of the prior 12, two were for $2.5
million, three were for $1 million, and the rest were under $1 million.108
DPR and DMPED entered into an MOU for the Walker Jones project in February 2009;
although $2 million was provided by DPR to DMPED in 2008, there does not appear to have
been an MOU executed in 2008.109 The February 2009 MOU provides that DPR will transfer up
to an additional $8 million for the recreation center portion of the project, which DMPED was to
construct “per DPR specifications.”110 There is no mention in this MOU of the Council approval
requirement, or of DCHA. According to Clark Ray, he was never made aware of DCHA’s
involvement in the project.
1. The Banneker/Regan Associates team
The team of Banneker Ventures and Regan Associates, which was awarded the project
management contract for the DPR capital projects, first came together on the Walker Jones
Regan Associates was originally formed in 1995 as the Highland Company. It does
project management work, consulting for school systems and universities, and property
107 Ex. 34, Chart: “MOU With District Agencies.”
108 David Gragan, who at the time was required to approve all MOUs, told us that he noted
the unusual magnitude of the $40 million DPR capital project MOU, but did not make any
further inquiry about it. Interview with David Gragan.
109 Ex. 35, Memorandum of Understanding Between the Department of Parks and
Recreation and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (Feb.
110 Id. at § II (B)(1).
development. According to the Regans, the company has been involved with approximately 50
projects on the east coast, primarily in the Washington, D.C. area.111 Sometime prior to 2007,
Regan Associates was involved with the Capitol Hill Community Development Foundation on a
project to renovate elementary and middle school libraries on Capitol Hill. This experience led
the Regans to become concerned about the condition of the city’s schools; they became
supporters of Mayor Fenty’s campaign because of that issue. At the same time, they decided to
explore the possibility of doing business with the District. In order to comply with District CBE
requirements, they sought out minority partners. According to the Regans, they were looking for
a CBE firm they could “mentor,”112 and considered a number of different firms, including firms
on the D.C. Public Schools facilities division approved contractor list. Banneker was not on the
list. Instead, the Regans recall that in the course of talking to many people about potential CBE
partners they were given the name of David Jannarone at DMPED, and he referred them to
After meeting with Banneker representatives, the Regans thought Banneker was
appropriate for the mentoring relationship they had in mind: big enough to take on work but
small enough to need training. They envisioned giving Banneker a small stake in their first
project together, and a bigger role in subsequent projects, so that Banneker could eventually
stand on its own.114 The Regans learned that Omar Karim, the Banneker principal, had
111 Interview with Sean M. Regan and Thomas J. Regan, Regan Associates LLC (Apr. 20,
113 Interviews with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan, Regan Associates LLC (Apr. 20, 2010;
Nov. 12, 2010).
previously worked for a construction company with which they were familiar.115 They were also
aware of Karim’s work on Mayor Fenty’s campaign. During their interview, they reported that
Karim made it known to them that he was in the same fraternity as the mayor. They
acknowledged that as businesspeople, they viewed this relationship with the Mayor as something
that “can’t hurt.”116
No other witness could provide any helpful information as to how Banneker and Regan
Associates got together. Karim testified that he could not recall how Banneker came to work
with Regan Associates, and that he did not think Jannarone had recommended Regan to him.117
115 Karim’s education and experience as an engineer and an attorney, including his previous
experience at Bundy Development Corporation and work on The Jazz @ Florida Avenue and
The Residences @ Thayer Avenue, among other projects, are detailed in the resume attached to
Banneker-Regan’s response to DCHE’s RFQ. See Ex. 36, Response to Request for
Qualifications for Capital Projects – District of Columbia Parks and Recreation Project
Management, submitted by Banneker Ventures LLC and Regan Associates LLC (Mar. 27, 2009).
117 Q: How did Banneker Ventures come to work with Regan and Associates?
A: I think the Walker Jones project was our first project together.
Q: And how did it come about that you all ended up working together on that?
A: … I don’t recall, it was a couple years ago.
Q: Did you call them? Did they call you?
A: I don’t recall.
Q: Had you heard of Regan and Associates before working together on Walker
A: I don’t recall. I might have.
Q: Do you remember how it was that the name Regan and Associates first came
to your attention?
Q: Did David Jannarone recommend Regan to you?
A: I don’t recall.
Q: Is it possible that David Jannarone recommended Regan to you?
A: I don’t – I don’t think so.
Q: What is your best recollection as to how it was that Regan and Associates
came to your attention?
A: Well, you gotta ask him. We were a subcontractor to them on Walker Jones.
(footnote continued on next page)
Karim denied that he told the Regans that he was a fraternity brother of Mayor Fenty’s or that he
had a relationship with the mayor that could be helpful.118
Q: Well, I understand. What I’m trying to find out is how did you come to first
have dealings with each other. I understand that once you connected up you
ended up in a subcontractor relationship with them. But they didn’t pick you
out of the blue.
A: I don’t – you gotta – I mean, you talk to them. You gotta ask them. What do
they say? You know. I don’t recall.
Q: Well, I’m trying to get your understanding of how it was that you all came to
A. I don’t recall. …
Deposition of Omar Karim (Aug. 5, 2010) 81:1–82:16.
118 Id. at 85:8-86:8.
Jacquelyn Glover, who interviewed for a job with Banneker Ventures in the summer of
2008, testified that during her interview Karim told her that “he was friends with the Mayor and
he had gotten quite a few projects in the D.C. government.” Deposition of Jacquelyn Glover,
Construction Manager, DMPED (Sept. 13, 2010) at 79:6-7. Karim denies that this conversation
In our written questions to Mayor Fenty, he was asked, “Were you aware that Omar
Karim told prospective business partners and employees, among others, that his relationship with
you would help him get business with the District? Do you believe that it would be appropriate
for you to help Karim get District business or contracts?” The Mayor responded “No to both
questions.” Ex. 24 at 2, No. 5.
Another answer provided by the Mayor does suggest, however, that he may have had
some general conversations with Karim about doing business with the city:
Did you ever talk to Omar Karim … about opportunities for Banneker Ventures,
LLC, or any other business he had an interest in, to do work for the District of
Columbia or on District of Columbia projects? If so, describe each such
conversation in detail.
(footnote continued on next page)
When Jannarone was asked whether he had recommended Banneker to Regan Associates,
he responded, “Not that I remember,” and added that he did not remember specific
conversations.119 We find the Regans’ clear recollection of their introduction to Banneker to be
DCHE issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a project manager to oversee the
Walker Jones project on June 29, 2007. The team of Regan Associates and Banneker Ventures
was selected for the award. Although they were proceeding as a team, Regan Associates and
Banneker did not form a joint venture for the project management work. Instead, only Regan
Associates was a party to the project management contract with DCHE. It was to receive a flat
fee of $1,410,000, plus a 9 percent mark-up on certain consultants’ costs.
Banneker was identified in the contract as a consultant who would work with Regan on
all aspects of project management. The Regans explained that entering into a joint venture was
more of a commitment than they wanted to make, and that they could satisfy CBE requirements
ANSWER: Over the course of the last four years, I have had frequent occasion to
talk to businessmen/developers who have inquired about opportunities to work
with the District on various projects. Generally speaking, I would suggest that
these businessmen/developers talk to the relevant agencies and pursue their
requests in accordance with the standard procedures. I don’t recall any
conversations with Omar Karim that would have gone beyond this type of
Id. at 1, No. 1.
119 Jannerone Dep. Notes.
120 A full examination of the Walker Jones project was outside of the scope of this
investigation. Accordingly, we do not offer any conclusions about the propriety of the
introduction by Jannarone or about any other matters relating to the selection of the Regan
Associates/Banneker team as the project manager for Walker Jones.
through a contractual relationship with Banneker.121 Their consulting relationship was
memorialized in a letter agreement between Regan Associates and Banneker, which provided
that Banneker would receive 33% of Regan Associates’ fees, exclusive of mark-ups.122
Because the Walker Jones contract was used as the model for the project management
contract for the DPR capital projects, its terms will be discussed in more detail below.
The Walker Jones program management contract was not submitted to the Council for
approval in 2007, nor was the construction contract between DCHE and Forrester Construction
Company. Both contracts were submitted in December 2009, after the Council’s investigation
began, and were approved as of January 4, 2010.123 Although we have not independently verified
it, numerous witnesses have stated that the Walker Jones project was completed on time and on
(or under) budget.
Deanwood Community Center is a recreation center and library located at 49th and
Quarles Streets, N.E. This was a large project that had been in DPR’s “queue” for a number of
In 2008, DMPED took on the task of managing the construction of the Deanwood
project. The evidence as to how this came about is somewhat inconsistent. Clark Ray and Jason
Turner recalled that the impetus for DMPED’s involvement came from DMPED.124 According to
Neil Albert, who was then the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and had
121 Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan (Apr. 20, 2010).
122 Ex. 37, Letter Agreement between Regan and Banneker (Sep. 4, 2007) at 3.
123 D.C. Act 18-258.
124 Interview with Clark Ray; Interview with Jason Turner.
formerly been the director of DPR, he made the decision in conjunction with Ray and then-City
Administrator Dan Tangherlini, because DPR did not have the capacity to do a project of this
The MOU between DPR and DMPED for Deanwood was signed by Ray and Albert on
April 2, 2008.126 It states that DPR will provide approximately $31 million to DMPED, with $8.8
million to be transferred immediately and the remaining amounts in subsequent fiscal years.
DMPED was to use the funds to construct the project. The MOU provides that DMPED will
obtain a delegation of construction authority from the Mayor and a delegation of procurement
authority from the Chief Procurement Officer prior to the transfer of funds. A written delegation
of contracting authority to DMPED signed by David Gragan accompanies the MOU.127
However, Gragan believed that DMPED already possessed procurement authority delegated to it
by the Mayor, and could not explain why this additional delegation was necessary.128
Unlike the Walker Jones MOUs, the Deanwood MOU expressly recognizes the Council
approval requirement, providing that:
This MOU shall automatically terminate if the City Council fails to approve the
construction contract for the New Deanwood Community Center or at any time
lawfully appropriated funds are not available.129
125 Albert Dep. 59:22-60:19.
126 Ex. 38, Memorandum of Understanding Between the Department of Parks and
Recreation and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (Apr.
127 Id., Delegation of Contracting Authority (Apr. 3, 2008).
128 Interview with David Gragan.
129 Ex. 38 at § IX(B).
1. The Deanwood program management RFQ
Deanwood also differed from Walker Jones in other respects. First, DCHA was not
involved in the project at the outset, and it was DMPED, not DCHA, that procured the program
manager. On April 28, 2008 DMPED issued a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for project
management, not an RFQ. DMPED’s RFP was a 71-page, detailed document that specifies the
contractual provisions that would govern the program manager’s performance.130 It also required
responding companies to provide pricing information as well as qualifications.131 According to
Albert, either OCP or a contracting officer within DMPED was involved in preparing the RFP.132
Jannarone recalled that it was the OCP employee assigned to DMPED.133
Banneker and Regan submitted a joint response on June 6, 2008. They followed up with a
Best and Final Offer submitted on June 24, 2008, offering a total not-to-exceed contract amount
of $579,456 for the first year and $509,184 for the second option year.134
2. Banneker as program manager
The program management contract for Deanwood was signed by Omar Karim on behalf
of Banneker and by Jonathan Butler, DMPED’s Director of Contracts, on July 23, 2008. Unlike
130 Ex. 39, Request for Proposals, Solicitation No.: DCEB-DMPED-080R-Deanwood (Apr.
131 Id. According to the RFP, the drawings and specifications for Deanwood were already
100% complete, which could account for the decision to seek price submissions from bidders for
this project. See id. at 8.
132 Albert Dep. 66:10-67:4.
133 Jannerone Dep. Notes. Although DMPED had independent procurement authority, it was
still subject to the PPA and all of its procedures, and used assigned OCP personnel to assist with
134 A full examination of the Deanwood project was outside of the scope of this
investigation. Accordingly, we do not offer any conclusions about the selection of the BannekerRegan team or the terms of the project management contract.
the Walker Jones contract, this contract is on a standard government contract form. It states that
the contract is a Firm Fixed Price Contract in the amount of $579,456 for the first year, and
incorporates by reference the RFP, standard contract clauses, and Banneker-Regan’s proposal.
One year later, Karim and Butler signed a contract modification adding another year to the
contract, for a firm fixed price of $509,184.00. Neither contract was submitted to the Council for
approval, presumably because neither exceeded the $1 million mark. Unlike Walker Jones, there
was no mark-up for consultants in the Deanwood contract. Karim testified that he was not sure
why, but thought that it was because DMPED used a different form contract than DCHE.135
The Regan-Banneker proposal for Deanwood asserted that “If selected, Regan and
Banneker will complete this project on a 50-50 basis where we will split staff and
responsibilities.”136 The project management contract, however, was executed solely by
Banneker.137 As they did on Walker Jones, Banneker and Regan Associates entered into a
consulting agreement. This time, however, Banneker was the contractor and received 51% of the
fees, and Regan Associates was the consultant, receiving 49% of the fees. According to the
Regans, giving Banneker the lead on this project was in furtherance of the Regans’ mentoring
role; they also believed the city would look more favorably on their team with Banneker, the
CBE, at 51%.138
135 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 99:14-100:3.
136 Ex. 40, Letter from Regan Associates and Banneker Ventures, LLC to Office of the
Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development regarding Program Management Services
for Deanwood Project Solicitation # DCEB-DMPED-08-R-Deanwood (June 6, 2008).
137 Ex. 41, Letter from Jonathan R. Butler, Director of Contracts, DMPED, to Omar A.
Karim (July 11, 2008).
138 Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan.
3. DCHA’s role on Deanwood
After the construction drawings for Deanwood were completed, the project stalled
because of funding issues, but was restarted in 2008.139 Jannarone stated that the initial plan was
for DMPED to procure the general contractor itself, but that discussions with OCP as to how
DMPED could handle this were frustrating.140 For Walker Jones, DCHE used a guaranteed
maximum price (“GMP”) contract, which Jannarone described as the most advantageous type of
contract from an owner’s point of view.141 Although DMPED has independent procurement
authority, Jannarone believed that under District procurement policies, DMPED could not enter
into a GMP contract, while DCHE operated under different procurement policies that permitted
it to do so.142 In fact, as with the design-build versus design-bid-build issue, D.C. law does not
preclude the use of GMP contracts, but OCP and DRES had never used one, and did not have a
form GMP contract that was compliant with the PPA.143 So Jannarone was correct as a practical
matter that even though a GMP contract might help control costs and decrease the total time
needed to complete the project, it would have been very difficult for DMPED to attempt to
utilize one. Involving DCHE, however, meant that they could use the same form of GMP
contract that had been used for Walker Jones. Jannarone commented that a point came when
139 Janifer Dep. 65:10-66:6; Jannarone Dep. Notes.
140 Jannarone Dep. Notes.
141 Id. Under a GMP contract, before the design drawings are complete, the contractor offers
to do the job for no more than a fixed maximum price. Cost savings are split with the owner,
while the contractor is at risk for costs that exceed the GMP. The contractor will begin work
before all of the drawings are complete, resulting in a faster job. Interview with Diane Wooden,
and Gerick Smith.
142 Jannarone Dep. Notes.
143 Interview with Diane Wooden and Gerick Smith.
DMPED decided they should go back to something they knew had worked.144 With DCHE and
the Walker Jones GMP contract, they could move forward to get bids for the Deanwood
construction work “without re-inventing the wheel.”145
The DCHA/DMPED MOU for construction of the Deanwood Community Center was
signed by Michael Kelly for DCHA on November 21, 2008, and by Deputy Mayor Neil Albert
on March 5, 2009.146 It provides for a project budget of up to $27.3 million, and a contract
management fee for DCHA of $100,000.147 There is no reference to a Council approval
A joint venture between Forney Enterprises and Manhattan Construction Company was
selected as the general contractor for the Deanwood Community Center. The construction
contract with DCHE was not submitted to the Council for approval when entered; instead, it was
submitted in December 2009 and approved by the Council as of January 4, 2010.148 The facility
opened on June 25, 2010.149
144 Jannarone Dep. Notes.
145 Id. Although he recalled conversations about getting the project moving, Neil Albert
testified that he did not know why DCHA got involved with Deanwood at this point. Albert Dep.
146 Ex. 42, Memorandum of Understanding Between the Office of the Deputy Mayor for
Planning and Economic Development and the District of Columbia Housing Authority (Mar. 5,
147 Id. at § 6(A).
148 D.C. Act 18-528.
149 See “Fenty Officially Opens Deanwood Recreation Center and Library,” DPR Press
Release (Jun. 25, 2010), http://dpr.dc.gov.
II. THE DPR CAPITAL PROJECTS AND THE MOU TO DMPED
A. The Attempted Transfer to OPEFM
As discussed above, during 2008, DPR was attempting to work with other agencies to
increase the pace of parks construction in line with the “significant emphasis” placed by the
Mayor “on moving parks construction quickly.”150 But the Mayor and then-City Administrator
Tangherlini continued to be dissatisfied with DPR’s efforts: “the Mayor was constantly frustrated
[be]cause he would be in the community and get broadsided. The Parks Department would give
the community dates for a project and will miss the dates until … within the executive offices of
the Mayor, there were conversations about how to help Parks and Rec deliver its projects on a
timely basis.”151 They considered the possibility of using other agencies and of requesting
independent procurement authority for DPR. 152
At a meeting to discuss the status of capital projects in October of 2008, the Mayor and
Tangherlini decided that the DPR projects should be moved to OPEFM.153 In mid-November
2008, DPR and OPEFM executed an MOU under which OPEFM agreed “to oversee and manage
DPR’s capital projects that directly or indirectly relate to the District of Columbia Public
150 Ex. 24 at 3.
151 Albert Dep. 87:11-87:18.
152 Id. at 87:21-88:1.
153 Interview with Jason Turner.
Schools.”154 The MOU contemplated that up to $35 million in FY 2009 funds would be
transferred by DPR to OPEFM.155
Although OPEFM has independent procurement authority, it is subject to the Council
approval statute (except with respect to Convention Center contracts) and routinely submits
contracts to the Council for review.156 There is no suggestion that any of the parties involved in
the decision to transfer the projects to OPEFM expected it to bypass this requirement.
On February 2, 2009, OPEFM issued a Request for Proposals for contractors to provide
design-build services for the renovation and modernization of four recreation centers: Rosedale,
Kenilworth, Guy Mason and Bald Eagle.157 On February 5, 2009, OPEFM held a pre-proposal
conference to discuss the solicitation.158
But OPEFM was not permitted to proceed. On November 17, 2008, Councilmember
Harry Thomas, Jr. introduced legislation to limit construction by OPEFM to D.C. public school
facilities only.159 According to Councilmember Thomas, he was concerned that moving projects
154 Ex. 43, Memorandum of Understanding Between the District of Columbia Department of
Parks and Recreation and the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (Nov. 21,
2008), § II.
155 Id. at § II (A)(1).
156 Interview with Allen Lew, Executive Director, OPEFM (Jul. 16, 2010).
157 Ex. 22 at 2.
158 Ex. 44, Government of the District of Columbia Office of Public Education Facilities
Modernization, Design-Build Renovation Services, Recreation Centers, Solicitation #: GM-09-
M-0204-FM, Preproposal Conference Sign-in Sheet (Feb. 5, 2009). Neither Regan Associates
nor Banneker appears on the sign-in sheets for the conference.
159 Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization Clarification Emergency
Amendment Act of 2008; Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization Clarification
Temporary Amendment Act of 2008; Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization
Clarification Congressional Review Energy Amendment Act of 2008.
to OPEFM would cause the Council to lose oversight of how budgeted funds were spent, and
would waste the 11 fully-funded employees in DPR’s capital projects division. He was also
concerned about what he saw as a disparity in OPEFM’s level of spending in different areas of
the city. Finally, he believed that OPEFM should not become the capital development center for
all of DC unless there was legislation to that effect.160 Thus, on February 18, 2009, OPEFM
cancelled the recreation center procurement. 161
In our view, the administration’s decision to assign the DPR projects to OPEFM –
although rescinded as the result of Council action – is significant evidence that the Fenty
administration was not attempting to structure the projects to avoid Council review or to permit
project contracts to be steered to particular companies. OPEFM operates with its own
procurement authority and utilizes its own project managers. OPEFM is subject to the Council
approval requirement and routinely submits contracts to the Council for approval.162 The initial
effort to assign the projects to OPEFM is simply inconsistent with an intent to manipulate the
projects to benefit associates of the Mayor or to otherwise bypass the Council. These facts
support the conclusion that transferring the projects out of DPR was done in an effort to move
construction forward and not for an improper purpose.
160 Interview with Harry Thomas, Jr., D.C. Councilmember (Ward 5), Chair, Committee on
Libraries, Parks & Recreation, (Sep. 28, 2010).
161 Ex. 45, Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, Design-Build Services,
Recreation Centers Solicitation #: GM-09-M-0204-FM, Addendum No. 5, Issued: February 18,
162 Interview with Allen Lew.
B. DMPED’s Involvement
After the projects were removed from OPEFM, DPR needed another “partner” agency to
get the projects moving. Deputy Mayor Neal Albert offered DMPED’s assistance in constructing
the projects.163 Ray was willing to work with DMPED because he knew it had independent
procurement authority, and because DMPED was already handling the Deanwood recreation
In his written responses to our questions, the Mayor explained the move to DMPED as
My original idea to ensure that projects important to the citizens of the District
moved quickly was to have Allen Lew take over such projects. When the Council
rejected my request, I discussed with senior officials of the Administration how
we could move the DPR capital projects forward as quickly as possible. It would
have been in the context of those discussions that I received the recommendation
that we follow the lead of former Mayor Williams and transfer the DPR capital
projects to DMPED. I generally approved the transfer, but had nothing to do with
the implementation of any such transfer.165
C. DMPED Looked to Banneker from the Start
Banneker and Regan Associates were already working with DMPED on Walker Jones
and Deanwood, and the evidence suggests that DMPED personnel assumed that they would work
on the DPR capital projects as well. On February 17, 2009, Ayris Scales of DMPED sent an email to confirm a meeting for the next day, described in the “re” line as “Rosedale and
163 Interview with Clark Ray.
165 Ex. 24 at 2.
Kenilworth-Parkside Rec Centers Kick Off Mtg,” to be held at the Walker Jones trailer.166 The email was sent to Omar Karim, Larry Dwyer of DCHA, Duane Oates of Banneker, David
Jannarone and Jacquelyn Glover of DMPED, and David Janifer and Jason Turner of DPR. The email identifies the agenda for the meeting as “SOW; Solicitation process and requirements
for.”167 None of the witnesses we spoke to had a specific recollection of what happened at this
meeting,168 but Banneker’s inclusion suggests that they were expected to have a role in the
Rosedale and Kenilworth projects, two of the parks that “came back” from OPEFM. David
Jannarone’s suggestion that the Banneker employees were included on the e-mail simply to
advise them that their construction trailer would be used for the meeting169 does not ring true.
Neil Albert testified that consideration was given to doing the DPR capital projects as an
add-on to the Walker Jones contract.170 Although both Jannarone and Karim testified that they
were unaware of such a plan,171 the documents support Albert’s testimony. On February 19,
2009, Jannarone sent an e-mail to Omar Karim, requesting that Karim prepare a change order to
166 Ex. 46, E-mail from Ayris Scales (EOM) to Omar Karim; Lawrence Dwyer; Duane W.
Oates; David Jannarone (EOM); Jacquelyn Glover (EOM), David Janifer (DPR); Jason Turner
(DPR) (Feb. 17, 2009 5:01 PM).
168 Deposition of Larry Dwyer, Director of Planning and Development, DCHA; President,
DCHE (Aug. 6, 2010) 90:1-90:6; Glover Dep. 45:12-46:3; Janifer Dep. 38:8-39:4; Jannarone
169 Jannarone Dep. 5:9-6:5.
170 Albert Dep. 92:13-93:20.
171 Jannarone Dep. 8:9-8:14; Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 101:10-108:8.
the Walker Jones program management contract based on an enclosed project list.172 The version
of the e-mail originally produced to the Council by Banneker Ventures did not include a project
list, but the subject line indicates “DPR Capitol project list enclosed.”173 At his deposition, Omar
Karim testified that he could not recall the e-mail, but would not agree that it referred to the DPR
capital projects; instead, he stated that it looked like it related to other DPR projects being
handled by Regan Associates.174 David Jannarone testified that he was not sure what this e-mail
was about, but thought it referred to the Emery Football Field (which was done as an add-on to
the Walker Jones contract), and several other smaller projects.175
After Jannarone’s deposition, DMPED, through the Attorney General’s Office, provided
the attachment, which confirms that the e-mail does relate to the particular projects at issue here.
The attachment is a chart entitled “MOU for DPR Capital Projects – EXHIBIT A,” which
includes the four projects covered by OPEFM’s RFP – Rosedale, Kenilworth, Guy Mason and
Bald Eagle – as well as two additional projects – Chevy Chase Ballfield and Justice Park.176 It
indicates that the program management contract for each project except Kenilworth will be
handled by a change order to Walker Jones;177 for Kenilworth, the chart provides for an “RFP
172 Ex. 47, E-mail from David Jannarone (EOM) to Omar A. Karim; Duane Oates; Thomas
Maslin (Feb. 19, 2009 3:38 PM).
174 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 103:22-105:22.
175 Jannarone Dep. 6:17-7:20.
176 Ex. 48, E-mail from David Jannarone (EOM) to Omar A. Karim; Duane Oates; Thomas
Maslin (Feb. 19, 2009 3:38 PM) with attachment “MOU for DPR Capital Projects – Exhibit A.”
177 Regan Associates was the signatory on the Walker Jones program management contract.
On that contract, the fees were split 67% to Regan Associates and 33% to Banneker, with the 9%
soft cost mark-up going to Regan Associates.
through DCHE.”178 However, the change order idea was not pursued. Albert could not recall the
Instead, on February 27, 2009, Clark Ray and Neil Albert signed the MOU for the DPR
Capital Projects.180 The MOU obligates DPR to provide DMPED with up to $40,350,000 for the
projects, and obligates DMPED to “use the funds from DRP to facilitate the repair, construction,
and/or modernization of DPR recreation facilities per DPR specifications.”181 There is no
specific reference to the requirement for Council approval of contracts in excess of $1 million,
and the MOU does not provide that it will terminate if Council approval of construction contracts
is not obtained. A chart attached to the MOU lists seven projects to be constructed by DMPED:
Chevy Chase, Rosedale, Kenilworth, Guy Mason, Bald Eagle, Justice Park and Barry Farms.182
178 Ex. 48, Exhibit A.
179 Albert Dep. 95:7-95:9.
180 Ex. 49, Memorandum of Understanding Between the District of Columbia Department of
Parks and Recreation and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic
Development (Feb. 27, 2009).
181 Id. at § II (A)(1); (B)(1).
182 Id. at attachment: “DMPED Projects.”
Even after the February 2009 MOU was signed, DPR continued to ask DMPED to add
additional parks to its list. In May of 2009, for example, Ximena Hartsock, who had recently
succeeded Clark Ray as director of DPR, was advised about an issue at the Watts Branch
Recreation Center: “… the Mayor is adamant that he wants the resurfacing of the basketball
courts completed before he returns to the community on June 18th, 2008 at 4pm.” Ms. Hartsock’s
response was to forward the e-mail to Deputy Mayor Albert with the following message:
(footnote continued on next page)
The evidence we have reviewed does not support the claim that this MOU had an
improper purpose. The Mayor first attempted to move the capital projects to OPEFM, which had
independent contracting authority, utilized its own project managers, and routinely brought
contracts to the Council for review. DMPED only became involved after the Council
disapproved OPEFM’s participation in the projects, and it too was subject to the Council
approval requirement. The evidence supports the consistent testimony that DPR teamed with
DMPED in order to move the projects forward.
III. THE MOU FROM DMPED TO DCHA
Although it does not appear to have been discussed with DPR, it is clear that DMPED
expected from the beginning that DCHA would be involved in the DPR capital projects.
Jacquelyn Glover, DMPED’s project manager for the DPR projects, testified that she understood
that DCHA would be involved at the time the DPR/DMPED MOU was being put together.183
Larry Dwyer, the president of DCHA’s subsidiary DCHE, recalled learning around March 2009
that DMPED would request DCHE’s assistance on projects that DPR could not get done on a
timely basis.184 Dwyer understood that DMPED wanted DCHE’s help to expedite the work: “I
was told the work was – the schedule was lagging behind severely and that expectations weren’t
I keep coming back to you because DPR cannot do fast enough. I would love to
discuss how we can find a way to get work done faster. In the meanwhile, can you
help us to get this one done? We do have the funds.
Thanks so much. Sorry for being a pest.
Ex. 50, E-mail exchange dated May 12, 2009, 5:27 PM.
183 Glover Dep. 51:20-52:1.
184 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 13:5-14:7.
being met and that they were trying to accelerate the development process of the Parks and
Recreation project process.” 185
Although DCHE initially anticipated that it would handle project management on the
DPR projects, in fact DMPED asked it to play a much more limited role.186 DMPED tasked
DCHE only with procuring the project manager and providing financial and accounting support
for the projects.187 Dwyer described DCHE’s function as merely “contract administration.”
Project management services were assigned to an outside project manager, and program
coordination and decision making were to be handled by DMPED in conjunction with DPR.188
Asmara Habte, DCHE’s primary representative on the project, described DCHE’s role
similarly.189 Under this division of responsibilities, DCHE personnel thought of DMPED as their
On March 11, 2009, the DCHA board passed a resolution authorizing entry into an MOU
with DMPED. The memorandum recommending approval of the resolution described DCHA’s
Under the MOU, DCHA would conduct the primary project management’s
solicitation for the repairs, provide oversight of the project management process,
and process payments between DMPED and the project contractors.191
185 Id. at 14:16-14:20.
186 Id. at 20:16-21:17.
187 Id. at 17:9-17:18.
188 Id. at 17:9-17:18; 33:12-33:19.
189 Interview with Asmara Habte.
190 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 30:7-30:8, 33:1-33:4.
191 Ex. 51, Memorandum from Michael Kelly to the Board of Commissioners District of
Columbia Housing Authority (March 11, 2009) at 1.
The MOU between DMPED and DCHA, which was not actually signed until July 31,
2009, further defined DCHA’s role:
As an agent for DMPED, DCHA will coordinate procurement of a Project
Manager, provide administrative oversight to the Project Manager and act as
financial manager and “pay agent” with District of Columbia Government funds
provided by DMPED, all in coordination with DMPED.192
For these functions, DCHA was to be paid an administrative fee of $700,000.193 DCHA assigned
its functions under the MOU to its for-profit subsidiary, DCHE.
It appears that DPR was never formally advised that DMPED was bringing DCHA into
the project. Clark Ray, who was the director of DPR until April 19, 2009, told us that he had no
knowledge that DCHA would be involved.194 Other DPR employees became aware that DCHE
had a role only when they saw DCHE representatives at project meetings.195
A. Why DCHA?
One of the key questions raised by these events is why DCHA and DCHE were involved
in the DPR capital projects. It has been suggested that DMPED moved the projects to the
independent agency as a means to avoid Council review of the contracts for the project, possibly
to shield the contract with Banneker Ventures from scrutiny, or to avoid any delay Council
review might entail. But we did not find either to be the case.
It is true that DMPED personnel were aware of DCHA’s position that it was not required
to bring contracts to the Council for approval. Neil Albert stated that DCHA “constantly
192 Ex. 52, Memorandum of Understanding Between the Office of the Deputy Mayor for
Planning and Economic Development and the District of Columbia Housing Authority, § 2.
193 Id. at § 6(A).
194 Interview with Clark Ray.
195 Janifer Dep. 47:3-7; Stesney Dep. 44:2-16.
articulated” that they did not need to take contracts over $1 million to the Council.196 David
Jannarone said that he was told by DCHE that they had a legal opinion stating that Council
approval was not required.197 Glover testified that Jannarone told her that DCHA was not subject
to the Council approval requirement.198
However, we did not find evidence that DMPED personnel involved DCHA in the DPR
capital projects in order to evade review of the Banneker contract or otherwise provide improper
advantages to Banneker, Karim or Skinner. We reviewed bank records from Karim’s and
Skinner’s businesses, and saw nothing to suggest that payments were being made to Jannarone or
anyone else at DMPED. Nor was there other evidence suggesting that DMPED’s decision was
The Council approval process can increase the amount of time it takes to carry out a
procurement. According to several witnesses, obtaining Council approval takes up to
approximately one month, and sometimes longer.199 Avoiding this step would have been
consistent with the Mayor’s goal of expediting construction of parks and recreation centers. It is
plausible that avoiding Council review as a time saver was at least a consideration in the use of
DCHA, even if it was not the primary motivation. However, none of the witnesses pointed to the
196 Albert Dep. 44:9-44:13.
197 Jannarone Dep. Notes.
198 Glover Dep. 40:17-40:20.
199 David Gragan noted that when OCP sent a contract package to the Wilson Building, it
would be reviewed and then sent to the Secretary of the Council; if the Council did nothing, the
contract would be deemed approved in 10 days. Interview with David Gragan. Jason Turner said
the Council approval process took approximately one month, although he described means he
used to shave the time down. Interview with Jason Turner. Neil Albert recalled one contract
taking nine months to get approvals while he was at DPR. Albert Dep. 45:18-46:9.
Council approval issue as a reason for involving DCHA in the capital projects, even in the
interests of speed. When asked, Albert and Jannarone specifically denied that it was a
Instead, the witnesses who offered testimony on this issue asserted that the reasons for
involving DCHA were that it had the ability to move projects along more quickly and efficiently
than DMPED or DPR, as exemplified by its work on Walker Jones and Deanwood. Further, they
stated that DCHA had capabilities, particularly in financial administration, that those agencies
did not have.
At the October 30, 2009 Council Roundtable, Neil Albert testified that DCHA had been a
partner with DMPED on a variety of capital projects in both the Williams and Fenty
administrations. He stated that DCHA had experience in design, construction and construction
management, and had a “nimble and efficient” system that allowed projects to be designed,
permitted and built quickly. He pointed to Walker Jones and Deanwood as successful projects
that were constructed in partnership with DCHA.201 At the Roundtable on December 2, 2009,
David Jannarone testified that partnering with DCHA was the fastest, cheapest and most efficient
way to get projects done, and offered Walker Jones as the prime example. He also testified that
DCHA had accounting resources that DMPED did not have, and that DCHA applied these
resources to accounting for the projects, reviewing invoices, and tracking line items in the
budget.202 Larry Dwyer, the president of DCHE, understood that DMPED wanted DCHA’s
200 Albert Dep. 98:13-98:18; Jannarone Dep. Notes. The Mayor was asked whether he
instructed anyone in his administration to structure the DPR capital projects procurements in a
way that would avoid Council review of the contracts, and answered “No.” Ex. 24 at 3.
201 Skinner Dep. 37:3-37:7, 38:1-39:10 (Oct. 30, 2009).
202 Joint Roundtable 56:5-58:18 (Dec. 2, 2009).
assistance on the DPR capital projects “to do the job faster, just to move the projects.”203 The
March 11, 2009 memorandum from the executive director of DCHA recommending approval of
the MOU with DMPED noted that “DMPED has indicated that the MOU is of some urgency and
requests the Board of Commissioner’s prompt consideration.”204
There is no doubt, as the Mayor acknowledges in his written responses to our questions,
that the administration wanted to accelerate the pace of park and recreation center construction.
This was the reason for the effort to move the parks to OPEFM, and the sense of urgency
imposed by the Mayor is also supported by the record throughout the period when the projects
were underway. For example,
• In a May 12, 2009 e-mail regarding the Watts Branch Recreation Center,
DMPED advised DPR that “we completed a Walk-Thru with the Mayor
and the NE Boundary Civic Association yesterday. We discussed all of the
upcoming projects to be completed at the center, and the Mayor is
adamant that he wants the resurfacing of the basketball courts completed
before he returns to the community on June 18, 200 at 4pm.”205
• In a May 14, 2009 follow-up e-mail to David Jannarone and David Janifer,
Deputy Mayor Albert said, “let’s piggyback on an existing contract to
meet the Mayor’s deadline.”206
• In a July 7, 2009 e-mail about the 7th and N Street Park, Jacquelyn Glover
said, “Per David Jannarone’s meeting with the Mayor this morning, we
203 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 16:16-17:4 (“motion was basically most of the
204 Ex. 51 at 2.
205 Ex. 53, E-mail from Demetria Harris (EOM) to Bridget Stesney (DPR) (May 12, 2009
206 Ex. 54, E-mail from Neil Albert (EOM) to David Jannarone (EOM); David Janifer (DPR)
(May 14, 2009 9:28 AM).
have to move quickly to get 7th and N done .. The Mayor wants a ground
breaking in September, which we can do.”207
• In a September 4, 2009 e-mail, Jannarone told Glover, Karim and others:
“The Mayor told me to have the groundbreakings on the following dates:
Justice park Oct. 13
Kennilworth Nov. 1
He’s pissed we missed the dates we told him per the original draw
schedules. I took the bullet, but you guys must figure out how to make the
dates listed. Next week I want a plan on how you will accomplish this.
Increasing the pace of construction activity had public relations value for the
administration, but it also would bring needed facilities to District residents more quickly.
However, the witnesses did not agree on precisely why adding DCHA to the projects when
DMPED was already involved would result in greater speed or efficiency, and the evidence does
not support some of the explanations they offered for seeking DCHA’s assistance.
For example, in the public hearings in October 2009, DCHA’s capacity and capability in
construction management was highly touted, and witnesses such as Neil Albert and David
Jannarone explained the move to DCHA on those grounds.209 But this expertise was not actually
used. The MOU limited DCHA’s role to contract administration. Negotiations for the program
management contract were carried out by DMPED, not DCHE, and DCHE’s attempts to
comment on the terms of the contract were cut off by David Jannarone of DMPED. DCHE does
not appear to have overseen the work of the program manager. While DCHE reviewed and paid
207 Ex. 55, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) to Bridget Stesney (DPR); David Janifer
(DPR) (Jul. 7, 2009 11:36 AM).
208 Ex. 56, E-mail from David Jannerone (EOM) to Jacquelyn Glover (EOM); Cc to: Omar
Karim; Sean Regan; Tom Maslin; Erin Jackson (EOM) (Sep. 4, 2009 6:12 PM).
209 See, e.g. Albert Dep. 41:13-42:4, 43:5-16, 82:18-19.
the invoices submitted by Banneker, its personnel relied on Jacquelyn Glover of DMPED to
determine whether the work had been satisfactorily done.210 DCHE personnel did not participate
in weekly project meetings or project specific meetings,211 did not participate in the selection of
architects, and did not participate in the selection of general contractors for the DPR projects.212
Indeed, Neil Albert testified that he tasked David Jannarone with managing the project
for DMPED, and that Jannarone “had the experience and the skill-sets to manage all aspects of
the project.”213 When asked in his deposition, then, what DCHE’s role was supposed to be,
Albert testified, “it is fuzzy right now. You know, but, again, you know, sort of just broad, sort
of program management responsibilities. … Just making sure the projects got delivered on time,
good quality and within the budget.”214 When asked how DCHE would do that, Albert
responded, “we hired them because … they had a track record of doing it … And we had
someone from DMPED who was sort of the liaison to them … David [Jannarone] was the one
keeping their feet to the fire.” 215
Some witnesses pointed more persuasively to the different procurement rules that apply
to District agencies and DCHA to explain why they would turn to DCHA when speed was
required. DMPED and DPR employees believed that DCHA and DCHE could enter into types of
210 Interview with Asmara Habte.
211 Glover Dep. 99:2-17; Deposition of Bridget Stesney, Planning and Design Officer, DPR
(Nov. 10, 2010) at 74:11-75:5.
212 See Glover Dep. 169:11-169:21; Stesney Dep. 110:10-111:9.
213 Albert Dep. 129:11-12.
214 Id. at 129:19-130:6.
215 Id. at 130:8-13.
contracts that reduced the time needed to complete a project, and that DCHA’s procedures
allowed for greater efficiency and ease in the procurement process. As discussed above, it is true
that design-build contracts are rarely used in procurements conducted by OCP/DRES, and GMP
contracts have never been used. Although DMPED had independent contracting authority, it was
still subject to the PPA and, as the Deanwood example shows, worked with OCP contracting
officers in conducting its procurements. DCHE, by contrast, does not conduct procurements
through OCP and is not subject to the PPA. It is plausible, therefore, that involving DCHE could
speed up procurements and decrease project completion times.
In sum, even though the explanations offered do not all hold up under scrutiny, we credit
the consistent testimony that DMPED brought DCHA into the DPR capital projects in order to
increase the speed with which the projects could be constructed and to supplement DMPED’s
team. DMPED personnel believed that what had worked before would work again: they wanted
to follow the pattern established on Walker Jones and Deanwood, successful projects where
DCHA, through its subsidiary DCHE, was involved. While the actual value of DCHE’s
involvement in the DPR projects can be questioned, and while the combination of a lack of
Council review and diffused responsibility between DMPED and DCHE may have provided
Banneker and LEAD with an opportunity to abuse the contracting and payment process, the
evidence does not support the conclusion that the MOU with DCHA was entered for an improper
IV. THE SELECTION OF BANNEKER VENTURES AS PROJECT
A. The Project Management RFQ
On March 5, 2009, about a week after the DPR/DMPED MOU was signed, Glover emailed a project list to DCHA. Shortly thereafter, on March 9, DCHE issued a Request for
Qualifications (RFQ) for a program manager for the DPR Capital Projects.216 The RFQ was
prepared by an outside consultant to DCHE.217 Glover was the only witness from DMPED or
DPR who acknowledged playing any role in the RFQ. She said that she provided scopes and
budgets to DCHE and reviewed a draft of the RFQ, but offered no changes.218
The RFQ required prospective contractors to provide their qualifications and experience,
but, unlike a request for proposals (RFP), it did not require them to provide cost or fee
information. Instead, the RFQ provided that “DCHE and/or DMPED will negotiate fee proposals
with finalists and may request a Best and Final fee proposal from qualified respondents or
solicitation finalists.”219 It further stated:
DCHE and DMPED will conduct price negotiations with the highest qualified
offeror(s) and anticipate that the successful bidder’s compensation will be based
on a fee structure that is reasonable and within normal industry standards for
similar work. If DCHE/DMPED cannot negotiation [sic] an acceptable price,
negotiations will be conducted with the next highest ranked offeror(s) who has
been determined to have sufficient qualifications.220
Glover stated that the suggestion to use an RFQ rather than an RFP came from DCHE,221
while Dwyer and Habte recalled that the idea was discussed in a conference call between
216 While the RFQ was issued on March 9, the DCHA board did not approve entry into the
MOU with DMPED until March 11 (and the MOU was not actually finalized until months later).
Dwyer testified that it was not unusual for DCHA to issue a solicitation based on anticipated
board approval. Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 44:1-12.
217 Ex. 57, E-mail from Jack Geary to Anthony Gilardi (Mar. 8, 2009 16:23:48).
218 Glover Dep. 57:3-12.
219 Ex. 58, Request for Qualifications for Capital Projects, District of Columbia Parks and
Recreation Project Management, Solicitation No.: 2009-5 (Mar. 9, 2009) at 4.
220 Id. at 9.
221 Glover Dep. at 58:13-15.
DMPED and DCHE staff and the decision was made to proceed by RFQ to facilitate DMPED’s
goal of expedition.222 When she was asked who made the decision, Habte pointed out that
DMPED was DCHA’s “client.” Dwyer did not remember the specifics of the discussion, but he
did not believe it was a “huge source of debate.”223 He indicated that DCHA occasionally
utilizes RFQs to accelerate the selection process because they provide a means to weed out
unqualified bidders. He did not have a particular objection to proceeding by RFQ for the project
manager function as long as there would ultimately be a competitive RFP process for the high
cost construction contractors.224
It is not clear, however, whether DMPED and DCHE had authority to proceed solely by
means of an RFQ. The PPA, which governs DMPED’s contracting, does not list RFQs as a
permissible method of procurement.225 And DCHE’s procurement policy contemplates that
major procurements will be handled by solicitations for bids or proposals, which would include a
price component.226 While price need not be determinative, “[p]rice comparability is expected to
be a major factor in the selection of vendors and contractors.”227 Moreover, paragraph 3(C)(1) of
the MOU between DMPED and DCHA provides that DCHA will procure a project manager
“through a competitive bidding process.” This language would exclude the use of an RFQ, which
222 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 47:5-14; Interview with Asmara Habte.
223 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 47:2-49:12; Interview with Asmara Habte.
224 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010), 47-49.
225 See D.C. Code § 2-303.02; see also Interview with David Gragan.
226 Ex. 59, DC Housing Enterprises Procurement Policy (April 2009 Revision) at 5.
227 Id. at § 2002.1.
does not call for bids. However, the MOU was not executed until July 31, 2009, long after
Banneker had been selected as project manager via the RFQ process.
Various industry witnesses offered different views about the use of RFQs. Architect Dale
Stewart of CORE indicated that it is not unusual for government solicitations to omit a price
component, particularly in the case of federal solicitations; and that “the city does it both
ways.”228 He noted that when price was not requested in an RFQ, the selection could be made
based on qualifications, with a fee negotiation to follow. Will Mangrum of Brailsford said that
while competitions for project managers typically include a price component, it was not usual
not to ask for price, particularly very early in a project when budgets have not been
established.229 Allen Lew stated that at OPEFM, he might start a procurement with an RFQ but
would always follow up with an RFP.230
Even if an RFQ was used at the outset here to narrow the field quickly to the most
qualified, DCHE could have proceeded to solicit prices from the top qualifiers. We believe that
the District was ill-served by the decision not to obtain price information from a range of
potential project managers.
B. Communications between Jannarone and Karim while the RFQ was pending
Responses to the RFQ were due on March 27, 2009. The evidence shows that between
March 9 and March 27, while the RFQ was “on the street,” DMPED and Omar Karim were
communicating about the budgets and cash flows for the capital projects. Their e-mails fueled
228 Interview with Dale Stewart, Principal, CORE Architects (Oct. 29, 2010).
229 Interview with Will Mangrum, Vice President of Brailsford and Dunlavey, and Marcos
Miranda, program director from McKissack & McKissack (Oct. 1, 2010).
230 Interview with Allen Lew.
concerns expressed at the Joint Roundtables that the project management contract had been
steered to Banneker. Without condoning private communications between procuring officials
and one prospective contractor, based on our review of the selection panel’s activities, we do not
believe that these communications ultimately affected the procurement, and we do not find that
further investigation of the award to Banneker is warranted.
On March 18, 2009, Karim sent an e-mail to Jacquelyn Glover and David Jannarone,
with the subject line “Cash flows – DPR Projects” and the following text: “As requested,
attached please find in Excel a combined as well as individual cashflows for the DPR projects.
Please let me know if you have any questions.”231 This e-mail was produced to the Council by
Banneker without any attachments. When questioned about it at his deposition, Karim asserted
that he did not know whether this e-mail related to the capital projects included in the DPR
MOU, or to other DPR projects.232 David Jannarone similarly stated that he did not think these
cash flows related to the DPR capital projects.233 Glover, however, testified that this e-mail did
relate to the DPR Capital Projects, and that Jannarone asked Karim to provide cash flows so that
DMPED would know how money would be spent throughout the duration of the projects. 234
Subsequently, DMPED produced the attachments to the March 18 e-mail. They consist of
spreadsheets showing draft draw schedules for Bald Eagle, Guy Mason, Kenilworth, Chevy
231 Ex. 60, E-mail from Omar A. Karim to Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) and David Jannarone
(EOM) (March 18, 2009 10:31 AM) with attachments.
232 Karim Dep. 108:12-110:16.
233 Jannarone Dep. 10:11-14.
234 Glover Dep. 62:1-10.
Chase, Justice Park, and Rosedale.235 Each schedule is labeled “Regan-Banneker Team” in the
upper left-hand corner. Each spreadsheet identifies an amount labeled “Cash in Agency
Estimated” for the particular project, and shows estimated expenditures on soft costs and hard
costs over a series of months (the number of months varies per project).236 Jannarone responded
to Karim’s e-mail, saying “Great work.”237
This e-mail exchange appears to have been followed by a conversation between
Jannarone and Karim. The next day, Jannarone sent Karim an e-mail with no text, and the
following subject line: “Where are the revised spreadsheets front loading the bell curve like we
discussed? You were supposed to get them to me yesterday.”238 Karim responded that they had
been sent and would be re-sent, to which Jannarone replied, “You modified them per our
conversation? You had edits to make, the ones you sent at 4pm didn’t work. Come on dude, we
talked about this.”239 At his deposition, Karim suggested that these e-mails might refer to
235 See Ex. 60, E-mail from David Jannarone (EOM) to Omar A. Karim (Mar. 18, 2009
12:11 PM) at attachments.
237 Ex. 60.
238 Ex. 61, E-mail from David Jannarone (EOM) to Omar A. Karim (Mar. 19, 2009 4:01
239 Ex. 62, E-mail exchange between David Jannarone (EOM) and Omar A. Karim (Mar. 19,
2009 4:48 PM; 4:56 PM).
“generic” bell curves.240 But in a March 20, 2009 e-mail, which was provided to us by DMPED
after Karim’s deposition, Karim sent Jannarone updated draw schedules for Kenilworth, Justice
Park, Guy Mason, Chevy Chase, Bald Eagle and Rosedale.241
Thus, it is evident that Banneker was working with DMPED on budgeting issues for the
DPR projects at the same time as it was participating in the solicitation for the project
management contract. While it does not appear that Banneker obtained any direct advantage in
preparing its response to the RFQ as a result of this work, it can be inappropriate for a
prospective responder to have private communications with the procuring officials while a
solicitation is in progress or to receive information that would give it an unfair advantage.242 It
appeared to us that both Jannarone and Karim were determined to avoid acknowledging that
DMPED was talking to Banneker about the DPR projects before the procurement was complete.
The fact that they consistently denied it even in the face of the subject line on the e-mails
suggested to us that they were uncomfortable about the communications.
240 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 111:2-13; 112:12-13; 118:15-120:4. Asked what he recalled
about the conversation with Jannarone referenced in the e-mail, Karim responded: “I don’t
remember. I mean we were working on a lot of stuff with them. Walker Jones was going full
blast at the time. Deanwood was going full blast and these were these, you know, to put together
some generic bell curve cash flows.” Id. at 112:9-13. Karim also evasively described these emails as referring to “generic” bell curves in his testimony before the Council without agreeing
that they related to the DPR projects in particular. (Dec. 10, 2009 hearing transcript at 190-193,
241 Ex. 63, E-mail from Omar A. Karim to David Jannarone (EOM) (Mar. 20, 2009 12:58
PM) with attachments.
242 See generally, 27 DC ADC § 1602.3 (in the context of competitive sealed proposals,
“The contracting officer shall furnish identical information concerning a proposed procurement
to all prospective contractors receiving the RFP.”). Neil Albert commented that although he did
not know the full context of this e-mail exchange, he would not do it that way. Albert Dep.
C. The Banneker-Regan Response to the RFQ
On March 27, 2009, thirteen firms submitted responses to the project management RFQ.
Banneker and Regan Associates submitted as a team. According to the Regans, their response
was put together by Banneker;243 Karim stated that they worked on it together with Regan
Associates.244 The response stressed their experience on Walker Jones and Deanwood. In his
cover letter, Karim wrote, “We believe that no other responder has more experience or
familiarity with large-scale, complex, District of Columbia recreation center and parks projects
than the Banneker-Regan Team.”245 He also stated,
As you may know, we are currently working on two large-scale, recreation center
projects (Walker Jones and Deanwood) and to date, have been successful in
meeting both our schedules and budgets. If selected to provide Project
Management Services for the Capital Projects listed in this RFQ, we expect to
deliver these projects on schedule and within budget as well.246
The cover letter indicates that Banneker will lead the Banneker-Regan team.247
The response includes a chart of relevant project experience for Banneker and Regan.
Walker Jones, Deanwood and Emery Recreation Center are identified as joint projects of the
team.248 The other projects listed for Banneker are The Residences @ Thayer Avenue; Pattern
243 Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan.
244 At his deposition, Karim testified that after they saw the RFQ advertised in the
Washington Post, his firm “spent thousands of dollars putting it [a response] together and
hundreds of hours putting it together as well.” Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010), 113:20-22. See also
245 Ex. 64, Response to Request for Qualifications for Capital Projects – District of
Columbia Parks and Recreation Project Management, submitted by Banneker Ventures LLC and
Regan Associates LLC (Mar. 27, 2009) at 2.
248 Id. at 10, “Matrix of Relevant Project Experience.”
Shop Lofts; The Jazz @ Florida Avenue; a project in connection with the Park Morton Master
Plan; and a role as “co-master developer,” as well as the developer of residential/retail space and
commercial space, for the Northwest One Redevelopment.249 The remaining projects on
Banneker’s chart are described as “staff involvement,” apparently meaning that they were
projects undertaken by Bundy Development Corporation while Karim was employed there.
Regan’s experience is also detailed in the RFQ response.
D. The Selection Process
Questions have been raised about whether the program management contract was
deliberately steered to Banneker. As noted above, some DMPED personnel seemed to assume
from the beginning that Banneker would be involved in the DPR Capital Projects. However, we
did not find that the selection process was manipulated to reach this result.
The responses to the RFQ were reviewed by a committee of 5 members. Initially,
DMPED proposed a committee consisting of 3 DMPED employees (Clint Jackson, Jacquelyn
Glover and David Jannarone) and two DPR employees (David Janifer, Bridget Stesney).250 No
DCHE representatives were included in DMPED’s proposed committee even though DCHE had
been specifically tasked with doing the program management solicitation. Within several days,
two DCHE employees – Asmara Habte and Christopher Regan251 – were put on the committee in
place of Clint Jackson and David Jannarone.252
249 Id. at 11. The chart shows a Fall 2001 completion date for the Thayer Avenue and Florida
Avenue projects, but that is obviously incorrect.
250 Ex. 65, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) to Jack Geary (Apr. 1, 2009 3:42 PM).
251 Christopher Regan of DCHE is no relation to the Regans of Regan Associates.
252 See Ex. 66, E-mail from Anthony Gilardi to Christopher Regan and Asmara Habte (Apr.
3, 2009 1:17 PM).
1. Did Glover have a disqualifying relationship with Banneker?
Questions have been raised about Glover’s participation on the selection committee
because Banneker’s Best and Final Offer for the Deanwood contract, submitted on June 24,
2008, identifies Jacqueline Glover as a Banneker project engineer who is expected to spend
100% of her time on Deanwood. Banneker also listed Glover as an employee on the Employment
Plan submitted as part of its First Source Employment Agreement, also dated June 24, 2008.253
However, Glover was never employed by Banneker. At her deposition, Glover testified
that while working for another contractor, she met Karim at a networking event.254 In mid-2008,
she interviewed with Banneker, which offered her a position as a project manager.255 Glover
turned the job down in July 2008, deciding that she was not interested in working for a small
company.256 Glover also testified that no one from Banneker had asked whether they could list
her in a submission to the government.257 At the Joint Roundtable on December 2, 2009,
however, Glover testified that while she was considering Banneker’s offer, she gave them
permission to list her name on its proposal, but that they later included her name on a DOES
form without her permission.258 At the Joint Roundtable on December 10, 2009, Karim testified
that they thought they had an agreement with Glover to join Banneker, and that her name was
253 The First Source Employment Agreement relates to the contractor’s obligations to use the
Department of Employment Services as its first source of employee recruitment and to hire
254 Glover Dep. 11:18-12:10.
255 Id. at 12:16-13:5.
256 Id. at 13:4-11.
257 Id. at 15:9-14.
258 Joint Roundtable (Dec. 2, 2009) 67:14-67:19.
included on their Best and Final Offer with her authorization.259 He stated that including her
name on Banneker’s later DOES form was a mistake.260
Glover was called for an interview at DMPED in late July or early August of 2008, after
giving her resume to a headhunter.261 She started working at DMPED in late October 2008.262
Based on these facts, we do not believe that Glover had a relationship with Banneker
Ventures that disqualified her from participating on the selection committee for the DPR projects
2. Was the selection committee or its scoring manipulated to
The Special Counsel deposed or interviewed each member of the selection committee,
and reviewed the score sheets and other documents related to the selection process. As described
in detail below, the selection committee evaluated the RFQ responses on four criteria, and while
there were three respondents with relatively close high scores – Banneker/Regan, KCI
Technologies, Inc. and Brailsford & Dunlavey, Inc. – the Banneker-Regan team led the scoring
at that time. CBE scores, which were obtained from the Department of Small & Local Business
Development and were not subject to the panelists’ judgment, were then added. They solidified
Banneker/Regan’s lead, resulting in the decision to award the project management contract. We
do not find that the selection process was manipulated to favor Banneker.
259 Joint Roundtable (Dec. 10, 2009)165:19-166:1.
260 Joint Roundtable (Dec. 10, 2009) 166:2-166:9, 234:7-234:8. As noted above, however,
Banneker’s Best and Final Offer and its DOES form have the same date.
261 Glover Dep. 16:12-16:15.
262 Id. at 21:10-21:14. There was a report that Glover introduced herself as a Banneker
employee at a community meeting about the projects. Glover testified that she never introduced
herself this way (Glover Dep. 192:4-193:5), and we view this testimony as credible.
The committee members’ recollections of the selection process were not consistent in all
their details. Some members recall the responses being sent to them at their offices,263 while one
remembers picking them up at the initial meeting of the committee.264 Most of the members
recalled that the committee met twice. It appears that the first meeting took place on April 6,
2009.265 Glover thought that the proposals were discussed at that meeting, and that the
Banneker/Regan response was identified as a “good proposal.”266 Other members of the
committee did not think that any substantive discussions took place at the first meeting.267
The selection committee members used a score sheet created by DCHE based on the
criteria in the RFQ.268 Each respondent was to be rated on 5 evaluation factors:
▪ Demonstrated Experience & Qualifications
▪ Demonstrated ability to coordinate complex projects
▪ Familiarity with applicable DC and Federal Laws
263 Glover Dep. 76:16-19; Interview with Asmara Habte.
264 Stesney Dep. 47:17-48:17. The documents show that on April 3, 2009, Anthony Gilardi
of DCHE e-mailed copies of the responses to the two DCHE members of the selection
committee, Chris Regan and Asmara Habte. See Ex. 67, E-mail from Anthony Gilardi to
Christopher Regan and Asmara Habte (Apr. 3, 2009 5:21 PM). Chris Regan then asked for all of
the responses to be printed and made available at the meeting. See Ex. 68, E-mail from
Christopher Regan to Anthony Gilardi (Apr. 3, 2009 7:04 PM). We have no documents showing
transmittals to the other members.
265 Ex. 66.
266 Glover Dep. 77:10-78:1.
267 Interview with Christopher Regan, Project Manager, DCHE (Jul. 22, 2010); Interview
with Asmara Habte; Stesney Dep. 48:18-49:1. David Janifer testified that the selection
committee received over 20 proposals, narrowed them down to 5 on which they focused, and
heard oral presentations from the candidates. Janifer Dep. 53:6-53:17. We believe that Janifer’s
testimony was a mistaken reference to a different selection process.
268 Interview with Asmara Habte.
▪ Experience with publicly funded projects
▪ Business Enterprise Designation (MBE, WBE, etc.)269
It is not clear when the score sheets were provided to the committee members.
The committee held its second meeting on April 22, 2009.270 The witnesses did not agree
on whether the committee members filled out their score sheets before the meeting271 or at the
meeting.272 There was agreement, which is supported by the documents, that at the April 22
meeting, each member read their total scores for each proposal out loud, and that Larry Dwyer of
DCHE took notes of each score and calculated totals for each respondent.273 Those totals did not
include CBE points (the fifth evaluation factor) for any of the respondents.274 According to
Glover, the fact that Banneker was the top scorer at that point was discussed at the meeting.275
269 Ex. 69, Proposal Evaluation and Scoring Sheet, DCHE Solicitation No. 2009-05,
DMPED Capital Projects – DC Parks and Recreation Project Management Services (Apr. 22,
270 Interview with Asmara Habte; see Ex. 70, Handwritten tally of scores (2 pages), initialed
“LD” and dated Apr. 22, 2009.
271 Glover Dep. 89:3-6; Stesney Dep. 68:5-7; Interview with Christopher Regan.
272 Interview with Asmara Habte.
273 See Ex. 70.
274 A comparison of Dwyer’s handwritten scores, see Ex. 70, and the scores on the final
score sheets, see Ex. 71, minus the CBE points, which were not known at the time of Dwyer’s
tally, reveals that they are generally consistent. Dwyer’s notes list 5 scores for each of the 13
contractors. Although the notes do not indicate which member gave which score, it seems clear
that Dwyer listed the scores from the committee members in this order: Glover, Janifer, Stesney,
Regan, Habte. There are 3 instances where the score sheets and Dwyer’s notes do not match:
Glover’s score for Eller Group DC, and Janifer’s scores for Banneker and KCI. However, the
scores on the score sheets match the totals on the combined score sheet attached to Dwyer’s
selection memo, Ex. 72, so the 3 discrepancies do not appear to have made any difference.
275 Glover Dep. 94:12-14.
Other witnesses did not recall this, and beyond the reading of the scores, we have not been able
to get a full picture of any discussions that took place at the April 22 meeting.
Both Banneker and Regan Associates’ qualifications were presented in their proposal,
and according to the committee members we interviewed, they assessed them together. Glover
testified that the fact that it was a joint proposal was particularly important to her:
Banneker is not a large company. Regan has definitely got a significant history
and good work performance in construction management. So the team made them
She also indicated that she would have evaluated a proposal from Banneker alone quite
differently: “Alone they could not handle the large volume of projects that we had.”277
After the April 22 meeting, Habte went to the District’s LSDBE website and determined
the business enterprise points for each responder.278 She e-mailed the LSDBE points to the other
committee members that evening.279 It appears that the members entered the points on their score
sheets and then determined the final totals for each proposer.280
DCHE collected signed score sheets from each member of the selection committee. They
are dated as follows:
276 Glover Dep. at 85:5-8.
278 Interview with Asmara Habte.
279 Ex. 73, E-mail from Asmara Habte to Jacquelyn Glover (EOM); David Janifer (DPR);
Bridget Stesney (DPR); Lawrence Dwyer; Christopher Regan (Apr. 22, 2009 7:33 PM).
280 Ex. 71.
Habte April 14, 2009
Janifer April 22, 2009
Stesney April 22, 2009
Regan April 23, 2009
Glover June 1, 2009281
The June 1 date on Jacquelyn Glover’s score sheet has raised questions about whether her scores
may have been changed after the fact to enable Banneker to win.
The witnesses’ accounts of what happened to Glover’s score sheet are not consistent.
Glover testified that she turned in her score sheet on April 22, the day of the second meeting, but
that either Dwyer or Habte told her that DCHE had lost it.282 Habte stated that it was Glover who
lost her score sheet. Habte said that she asked her for it several times and that she ultimately
went and picked up another score sheet from Glover.283 Chris Regan thought that Habte found
an arithmetic error in Glover’s score sheet and asked Glover to re-do it. At the time, Chris Regan
and Glover were working together on another project, and Regan recalled that Glover brought
him the score sheet and he gave it to Habte.284 Neither Bridget Stesney nor David Janifer, the
other members of the selection committee, had any knowledge about Glover’s score sheet.285
It is clear that Glover’s June 1 score sheet was created after the fact. Glover testified that
Habte provided her with the scores she had originally awarded each contractor as they were
recorded at the April 22 meeting, and that she used these scores to fill out a new score sheet.286
282 Glover Dep. 89:14-17, 91:2-11.
283 Interview with Asmara Habte.
284 Interview with Christopher Regan.
285 Stesney Dep. 70:15-71:6; Janifer Dep. 58:19-60:2.
286 Glover Dep. 91:17-92:9.
Habte did not give her the scores for each evaluation factor; instead, Glover filled those in based
on her memory.287
While Glover’s score sheet was mishandled, we did not find any evidence that Glover’s
scores were manipulated after the fact to allow Banneker to win. The comparison between
Glover’s June 1 score sheet and Dwyer’s handwritten notes from the April 22 meeting is
particularly important in this regard. Although there was one score on Glover’s June 1 score
sheet that differed from her score in Dwyer’s notes, it was a score for a contractor that had no
chance in any event. After accounting for CBE points, which were not within Glover’s control,
all the other scores on Glover’s sheet, including the score for Banneker, matched Dwyer’s April
22 notes. Moreover, Banneker had the highest combined score from the other four committee
members and would have won even without Glover’s score.
None of the members of the selection committee reported experiencing anything
inappropriate about the process, or reported knowledge of any facts suggesting that the contract
might have been steered to Banneker.288 None of the panelists recalled that Glover, Jannarone or
anyone else advocated for Banneker in particular or pressed them to vote in a particular way. We
found no evidence of financial or other ties between any of the selection committee members and
Banneker that would suggest improper bias or favoritism. As discussed above, we do not believe
that Glover’s job offer from Banneker was meaningful in this regard. Several of the committee
members viewed the experience of the Banneker/Regan team on Walker Jones and Deanwood as
287 Id. at 92:10-15.
288 Glover Dep. 219:2-9; Stesney Dep. 71:10-72:2; Janifer Dep. 60:14-61:11; Interview with
Asmara Habte; Interview with Christopher Regan.
particularly significant in their consideration of the proposals,289 but this was not an improper
advantage.290 In short, the facts we have found do not support a conclusion that the selection
process was manipulated.
In a memorandum dated April 29, 2009, Dwyer recommended the selection of Banneker
to the DCHE board. It is not clear how this memorandum, which purports to attach all of the
evaluation forms,291 could have been written and sent on April 29 when Glover’s score sheet was
dated June 1. While it thus appears that the recommendation was made before the supporting
paperwork was fully in place, it was consistent with what Dwyer knew to be the results of the
V. THE BANNEKER PROJECT MANAGEMENT CONTRACT
Questions have been raised about whether the program management contract provided
excessive compensation to Banneker or terms that were otherwise unfair to the District. Based on
the evidence we have reviewed, we do not believe this issue warrants referral for further
investigation. But the manner in which the contract negotiations were handled does raise
concerns about the appropriateness of the compensation to Banneker and whether the District’s
interests were adequately protected. Banneker was entitled to negotiate the most favorable terms
289 Glover Dep. 255:8-20; Stesney Dep. 56:4-10. Glover testified that after the RFQ
responses were received, she talked with DMPED project managers about some of the
responding companies. Knowing that Banneker was working on Walker Jones and Deanwood,
she spoke with the project managers for those projects, who had nothing negative to say and
were pleased with Banneker’s work. Glover Dep. 255:19-20.
290 The decision to proceed by RFQ alone, rather than to solicit price proposals from the
most qualified bidders, compounded the advantage, though, as no other contractor had an
opportunity to compete with the Banneker/Regan team on the basis of price.
291 Ex. 72.
it could, so if the contract was overly favorable to Banneker, it is the government officials, not
Banneker, who should be faulted.
A. The Intent to Award Letter; Work Begins
By letter dated April 30, 2009, DCHE notified Banneker that the program management
contract would be awarded to the Banneker/Regan team.292 According to the letter, DCHE –
consistent with the responsibilities assigned to it under the MOU – expected to be handling the
DCHE Project Manager, Asmara Habte, will be contacting your office over the
next few days to finalize the contractual agreement and to schedule the work for
this project. In the meantime, please provide us with a proposed budget for your
services based on the scope of work detailed in the DCHE solicitation No. 2009-
Although the project management contract had not yet been signed, DMPED directed
Banneker to begin work. A kick-off meeting for the DPR projects was held on May 1, 2009.294
As will be discussed in more detail below, on May 4, 2009, without any competitive solicitation,
Banneker issued a letter to Liberty Engineering & Design, informing LEAD that it would be
receiving a contract for consulting and surveying services for the DPR capital projects, and
authorizing LEAD to begin performing consulting and surveying work immediately.295 On May
14, 2009, representatives of Banneker, Regan, DMPED and DPR held a planning meeting, at
which, among other things, they scheduled site visits to Kenilworth, Bald Eagle, Guy Mason and
292 Ex. 74, Letter from Larry Dwyer to Omar A. Karim (Apr. 30, 2009).
294 Ex. 75, E-mail confirmation regarding DPR Projects Kickoff Meeting scheduling (May 1,
295 Ex. 76, Letter from Duane W. Oates, Banneker Ventures, L.L.C., to Abdullahi Barrow,
P.E., Liberty Engineering and Design, PLLC (May 4, 2009).
Chevy Chase for the following week.296 Banneker continued to move forward, and to invoice the
District, during the two and a half months it took for the parties to finalize the program
While it may have been advantageous to the District to allow Banneker to begin before
contract execution, it also could have made it more difficult for the District to reject contract
demands from Banneker and begin negotiations with another contractor. At the same time,
Banneker was technically at risk of not being compensated for work done, or of being
compensated at less than its anticipated rate, if its negotiations with the District did not result in
an executed contract.
B. DMPED controlled the contract negotiations
Both the MOU and the award letter to Banneker contemplated that DCHE would have
responsibility for negotiating Banneker’s program management contract. It is clear, however,
that the negotiations, such as they were, were controlled by DMPED, and that DMPED largely
regarded attempts by DCHE to have input into the terms of the contract as an unwanted
1. The fixed fee
Jacquelyn Glover of DMPED was the District employee primarily responsible for
negotiating fees with Banneker. She described her role as “a representative for DPR, just making
sure that we get, in a sense, our best bang for our buck.”297
296 Ex. 77, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover to Bridget Stesney (DPR); David Janifer (DPR);
Omar A. Karim; Duane Oates; Tom Maslin; Bernard Guzman (EOM); David Jannarone (EOM);
McClinton Jackson (EOM) (May 14, 2009 4:04 PM).
297 Glover Dep. 100:13-15.
It appears that the first document presented to the District as part of the contract
negotiations was a fee proposal, which Glover described as a “funding sheet that basically
outlined how much their monthly billing would be.”298 Despite requests, we have not received a
copy of the initial fee proposal. According to Karim, the fee proposal was prepared by Regan
Associates, and was based on the staffing plan included in the Banneker-Regan response to the
RFQ. Although Glover thought that the proposal was also provided by Banneker to DCHE, and
possibly to DCHE first,299 Karim testified that the initial fee proposal went to DMPED,300 which
seems more likely.
On May 18, 2009, Glover sent Karim a response to the fee proposal, copying
representatives of Banneker, Regan, DPR and DMPED, but not DCHE.301 Glover’s e-mail
indicates that the proposal was based on a monthly fee of $44,000 per “project.” “Project” in this
context did not mean an individual park; instead, the parks were grouped for purposes of
calculating workloads.302 Banneker calculated that it would be working on 4 “projects” during
months 1-15 of contract performance, and 3.1 “projects” during months 16-28, for a total fee
298 Glover dep. at 100:22-101:3.
299 Id. at 101:4-7.
300 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 138:14-15.
301 Ex. 78, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) to Duane Oates; Sean Regan; Tom Maslin;
David Janifer (DPR); David Jannarone (EOM); Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) (May 18, 2009 5:59
302 Glover dep. at 109:19-110:9. The contract included 10 different parks and recreation
centers (3 more than were in the initial DPR/DMPED MOU).
over 28 months of $4,413,200.303 Glover testified that she discussed the calculation of the
monthly fee with Karim, and that it was based on “units of work per project.”304
According to the Regans, Banneker’s fee was based on expected staffing levels, and was
calculated in the same manner as their fee on Walker Jones.305 On the earlier project, the Regans
priced 3 full time employees at $45,000 per month, and then priced the work by determining how
many full time employees would be needed in total.306 They said that the same analysis was
In her response, Glover offered a lower monthly fee of $40,000 per project group, but
added a bonus of $250,000 for successful completion of certain parks in the first 15 months and a
second bonus of $300,000 that could be earned at the end of 28 months.308 Although both Glover
and Karim describe Banneker’s fee as having been negotiated down,309 in fact Glover’s proposal
provided for a total potential fee of $4,562,000, which was $148,800 more than Karim requested.
Glover testified that the reason for the increase in the total fee was to create an incentive for
Banneker to move quickly and meet the “very aggressive” schedules imposed by DPR.310
303 Id. at 110:2-9.
304 Id. at 103:15-22.
305 Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan (Apr. 20, 2010).
307 The Regans indicated that contract negotiations with the city were handled by Banneker,
which consulted with them; “we had to be comfortable with what the fee would be.” Interview
with Sean Regan and Tom Regan. According to Karim, representatives of Regan Associates met
with Glover to explain the fee proposal.
308 See Ex. 78.
309 Glover Dep. 104:20-105:9, 108:17-109:12; Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 139:4-5.
310 Glover Dep. 105:19-106:1.
Glover and Karim compromised on a monthly fee of $42,000 per “project” (with the
workload calculated at 4 projects in the first 15 months and 3.1 projects in the subsequent
thirteen months),311 resulting in a contract amount of $168,000 per month from May 2009 to July
2010, and $130,200 from August 2010 to August 2011. Glover reduced the bonus amounts to
$150,000 and $200,000, which resulted again in a total potential fee of $4,562,600 – again, more
than Karim had originally proposed.312
It appears that no one in DMPED other than Jannarone reviewed this decision. Neil
Albert testified that he was not aware of the fees being negotiated, and that it was David
Jannarone’s responsibility to manage the project.313 Jannarone did not conduct an in-depth
review. He testified that he discussed the fees with Glover after Banneker’s proposal came in.
Glover was “going to go back and try to negotiate the lower fees, which she did successfully.”314
They also discussed whether the fees were consistent with other projects and fair and
reasonable.315 However, Jannarone rejected the suggestion that he was responsible for the final
311 Glover Dep. 109:17-110:1; Ex. 79, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover to Omar A. Karim
(May 19, 2009 7:34 PM) (“Omar, Per our conversation, we will meet in the middle and adjust
your monthly fee … from $44,000 to $42,000/month/project. Then adjust the Bonuses
accordingly to ensure the Grand Total Fee is 4,562,600, as shown in my original Proposed Fee
Calculation ….”).These numbers were carried through into the contract. See Ex. 80, Contract for
Services between DCHE and Banneker Ventures, Contract No. 2009-05 (Jul. 14, 2009) at 4. The
bonus targets were based on two groups of parks: Part A, the smaller parks that were expected to
be completed first (Barry Farms, Justice Park, Parkview Community Park, 7th and N Street), and
Part B (Bald Eagle, Chevy Chase, Fort Stanton, Guy Mason, Kennilworth-Parkside, Rosedale
Community Center). Ex. 80 at 35; Glover Dep. 104:20-105:18, 109:19-110:9. Note that the
contract covered 3 parks that were not included in the DPR/DMPED MOU.
312 See Ex. 79.
313 Albert Dep. 129:9-18.
314 Jannarone Dep. 36:7-8.
315 Id. at 36:9-11.
numbers: “[Glover] did what she had to do, and when she ended up in a place that she felt
comfortable with[,] her and I talked about it.”316
Once the fee issue was concluded, Glover requested that Karim send her his contract, in
terms that suggested DCHE’s role was only a formality: “Please send over your contract, with
these amounts included, for review, and we will then send it to DCHE for formal execution.”317
2. The 9% mark-up
The contract proposed by Banneker was largely based on the program management
contract for Walker Jones: “Banneker had an existing contract on Walker Jones with DCHE so
pretty much they used the same template, just changed the scope and the funding portions of
it.”318 In addition to the monthly fee and bonuses, Banneker was entitled to be paid “Amounts
due to Consultants under the Contractor’s contracts with the Consultants (other than Regan
Associates), plus a mark-up of nine percent (9%) thereof for the Contractor’s overhead and
management (Consultant Payments).” 319
The contract includes construction contractors in the definition of Consultant320 During
some of the hearings, this 9% mark-up was described as mark-up on the entire construction
316 Id. at 36:19-22.
317 Ex. 79.
318 Glover Dep. 101:19-22.
319 Ex. 80, at § 9(A)(11). The PPA prohibits the use of the “cost-plus-a-percentage-of-cost
contract system of contracting.” D.C. Code, § 2-303.09. While DCHA and DCHE are not
governed by the PPA, we understand that the D.C. Auditor is looking into whether including the
9% mark-up made the Banneker contract a cost-plus-percentage-of-cost contract, and if so, why
DCHE would issue such a contract. See Ex. 81, E-mail from Francis Bonsiero, Senior Analyst,
Office of the District of Columbia Auditor to Hans Froelicher (Feb. 3, 2010 4:45 PM).
320 Id. at § 5.
budget. However, the parties understood the mark-up to apply only to “soft cost” consultants,
primarily engineers and architects, and not to the construction contractors.321
The 9% mark-up is a term that was included in the program management contract for
Walker Jones and stayed in the version used by Banneker for the DPR Capital Projects.322
Although Glover testified that she discussed the mark-up with Karim, it does not appear to have
been the subject of serious negotiation, nor was it reviewed by anyone other than Glover. She
thought it was standard for a mark-up to be added when a contractor, as opposed to the owner,
would be holding contracts with consultants or sub-contractors.323 She stated that the mark-up
was justified because the contractor was taking on additional liability, both for paying the
consultant and for the work done by the consultant.324 Jannarone did not recall any specific
discussions about the 9% mark-up, and pointed to the Walker Jones contract as justification.325
Asked about the mark-up in the Walker Jones contract, Karim stated that it was normal to charge
a fee for holding a contract and that the 9% amount was “industry standard.”326
321 See e.g. Jannarone Dep. 43:6-46:16; Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 109:5-9, 138:15-141:22;
Interviews with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan (Apr. 20, 2010, Nov. 12, 2010).
322 There was no similar provision in the Deanwood project management contract.
323 Glover Dep. 106:20-22.
324 Id. at 107:1-108:16.
325 Jannarone Dep. 37:1-12.
326 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 97:6-7. Karim’s explanation was as follows:
[Regan and Associates] had to manage those contracts. They have to manage
those staff. They had to negotiate the contracts. They had to negotiate invoices
every month and submit them and oversee them and when – if the District didn’t
pay, they’re the ones who get those emails and phone calls and reputations are on
the line when all of those consultants begin to ask where’s our money.
(footnote continued on next page)
During the investigation, we spoke to numerous people in various positions in the
construction industry. Based on those discussions, it appears that it is not unusual for a contractor
to add a percentage fee when it holds a contract, and we heard various estimates of a standard
mark-up amount, ranging from 2 to 10%.327 But in this case, the mark-up was being added on top
of a significant fixed fee.
More importantly, the purpose of such a mark-up is to cover costs to the contractor of
managing the sub and assuming additional liability.328 But Banneker did not take on that liability
in this case. The language of the contract does not support Karim’s claim that Banneker retained
And then you have reputations on the line and all of those things.
Similarly, the same situation that we’re in under the – our contract with DCHE
and all the subcontractors who aren’t paid. It’s a major, major burden on us
because we don’t have the funds to directly pay those consultants. They have to
come from the government.
So I think a nine percent fee is certainly industry standard. It’s regular.
General contractors charge the same thing. Architects charge the same – they
charge more for this.
Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 96:12-97:9.
327 Interview with Dale Stewart; Interview with Mangrum and Miranda. Larry Dwyer
testified that in DCHE’s view, a mark-up of 4 to 6% would be more in line. Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6,
2010) 55:10-13. During the negotiations, Habte recommended a 4% mark-up on Banneker’s
At the Council hearing on Nov. 16, 2009, Valerie Santos, who became Deputy Mayor for
Planning and Economic Development in June 2009, testified that 9 percent was in line with
industry standards for taking on liability and risk associated with the work. Council Hearing
(Nov. 16. 2009) 161:10-16. At her deposition, Santos testified that she got this explanation from
Dwyer and Jannarone, who advised her that the program manager was bearing all the risk if
anything went wrong with the work of the consultants. Deposition of Valerie Santos, Deputy
Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (Sep. 27, 2010) at 45:18-46:9.
328 Interview with Mangrum and Miranda; Interview with Dale Stewart.
liability for the work of its consultants.329 The contract states that Banneker “is responsible for its
own negligence and willful misconduct.”330 But it also provides that “Notwithstanding anything
else in the Contract Documents, however, the Contractor is not responsible for the performance
of Enterprises [DCHE], of the Consultants, or of construction contractors, as such performance is
solely the responsibility of those firms.”331 Banneker is not relieved of responsibility “for
coordinating efforts of or managing Consultants as set forth in the Contract Documents or for
administration of Consultant contracts” – which are its obligations under the contract. But it is
expressly relieved of liability for the consultants’ acts:
To the extent a claim by Enterprises involves or relates to the
performance, breach of contract, negligence, or intentional misconduct or any
other act or omission by a Consultant, Enterprises (at its own expense, including
attorneys’ and experts’ fees) will pursue its claim either through the Contractor
(i.e., in the name of the Contractor) or directly against the Consultant, and
Enterprises will be limited in its recovery to the amount that Enterprises recovers
from the Consultant. ….332
Asked about the meaning of this provision in the project management contract for Walker
Jones,333 which was the model for the Banneker contract, Karim stated that it did not disclaim
329 The 9% mark-up also cannot be justified as compensation for Banneker’s taking on the
risk of having to pay the consultants. Its contracts with LEAD and the architects expressly state
that the consultants are not entitled to any payment from Banneker unless and until Banneker has
received payment from DCHE. See, e.g., Ex. 82, Consulting Services Agreement between
Banneker and LEAD (Jul. 22, 2009) at 8, Schedule 2 “Contract Sum.”
330 Ex. 80, at § 5.
332 Id. at § 5.B.
333 See Ex. 83, Contract for Services between DCHE and Regan Associates, LLC (Aug. 3,
2007) (“Walker Jones Contract”) at § 5B.
liability for the work of the consultants.334 But the Regans, who negotiated the Walker Jones
contract with DCHE, acknowledged that in return for reducing their original demand for a 15%
mark-up, they were able to obtain contract language relieving them of claims.335
Because the Banneker contract was disapproved long before completion, the total amount
that would have been paid to Banneker due to the 9% mark-up is unknown. For analysis
purposes, we looked at a set of project budgets produced by DCHA dated June 8, 2009.336
Applying a 9% mark-up to the soft cost category entitled “Program Manager Contracts” in each
budget (some of which appear to be missing architects’ fees) yields $388,823. Using this
amount, the total fee payable to Banneker under the contract would have been $4,601,423
without bonuses, and $4,951,423 with bonuses. With a total estimated project budget of
$53,150,000, as indicated in the scopes of work for each of the 10 parks covered by the contract,
Banneker’s fee without bonuses could have totaled 8.7% of the budget; with bonuses, 9.3%.337
It is outside of the scope of the Special Counsel’s responsibilities to set compensation
standards for project management. But the absence of price competition in the original award,
the manner in which the negotiations for the contract were conducted, the lack of hard bargaining
on the price components, and the inclusion of the 9% mark-up on consultants’ costs, when
334 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010), 92:9-93:5.
335 Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan (Aug. 2, 2010).
336 Ex. 84, Projected Budget tables for Rosedale, Kenilworth, Bald Eagle, Guy Mason,
Chevy Chase Field, Barry Farms, Justice Park, Park View, 7th and N (Cash Flow as of 5/4/2009),
Fort Stanton (Jun. 8, 2009).
337 The total project budget is higher than the $40 million MOU amount because parks were
added to the projects after the MOU was executed. As happened throughout these projects,
documents authorizing additional funding or work were prepared after the fact.
Banneker was relieved of liability for the consultants’ performance, give rise to the view that the
District’s interests could have been better served.
C. Finalizing the Contract
On May 26, 2009, Karim sent Jacquelyn Glover and David Jannarone an e-mail attaching
a draft of the contract between DCHE and Banneker Ventures.338 Karim noted that “[i]t is
essentially the same contract that was signed for Walker Jones.” He also indicated that he would
provide the contract attachments once the scopes of work were finalized; they appear to have
been sent to Glover on June 9, 2009.339 Later that same day, Glover forwarded the draft and
attachments to Asmara Habte340 with no comments.341
DCHE took steps to review the language of the contract. Its insurance analyst provided
comments on June 16, 2009.342 The analysts noted the sentence in paragraph 5 of the contract
providing that Banneker was not responsible for the performance of the Consultants or the
construction contractors, and commented “We believe the Contractor SHALL be responsible for
the performance of the Consultants and of construction contractors.”343 They noted the language
of the insurance provision, section 10, which as drafted provided that the insurance maintained
by Banneker would cover “the Contractor’s own operations (and not the operations of
338 Ex. 85, E-mail from Omar A. Karim to Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) (May 26, 2009 7:04
339 Id.; Ex. 86, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) to Asmara Habte (June 9, 2009 3:50
PM). We have not been provided with a copy of the draft attached to this e-mail or the contract
attachments that were subsequently forwarded.
341 Glover Dep. 115:4-6.
342 Ex. 87, E-mail from Julie Ellis to Jack Geary; Nancy Ahrens (June 16, 2009 1:36 PM).
Consultants or anyone else),” and commented that Banneker should be responsible for the
consultants and contractors, and that the insurance requirements should be extended by Banneker
to the Consultants and contractors.344 They also recommended other specific language changes
to the insurance provisions of the contract.345 However, none of these recommendations or
changes were incorporated into the contract.346
On June 24, 2009, Asmara Habte advised Karim that “there are many issues in the
contract that we need to discuss and change.”347 David Cortiella of DCHE was asked to review
the contract by Larry Dwyer.348 On June 25, Cortiella sent Karim a red-lined copy of the contract
with DCHE’s comments.349 Among the proposed changes were edits to paragraph 5 that appear
to have been intended to make Banneker responsible for the work of its consultants.350
Cortiella’s efforts provoked a flurry of dismissive responses from DMPED. At 12:38 pm,
David Jannarone sent him an e-mail stating “Jacqui will get you the contract we approve.”351
346 See Ex. 80, at 6-7.
347 Ex. 88, E-mail from Asmara Habte to Omar A. Karim (Jun. 24, 2009 4:15 PM); Habte
was concerned that Banneker would have minimal responsibility for the work, and also thought
that 4% would have been a more appropriate management mark-up fee. Interview with Asmara
348 Ex. 89, E-mail from David Cortiella to David Jannarone (EOM) (Jun. 25, 2009 10:18:51).
349 Ex. 90, E-mail from David Cortiella to Jacquelyn Glover (EOM); David Jannarone
(EOM); Omar A. Karim (Jun. 25, 2009 2:10 PM) with attachment (“Contract for Services”).
350 See id., attachment at 2-3. In other words, DCHE tried several times to require Banneker
to carry the liability that might have justified its 9% mark-up.
351 Ex. 91, E-mail from David Jannarone to David Cortiella; Omar A. Karim; Jacquelyn
Glover (EOM) (Jun. 25, 2009 12:38 PM).
Glover followed up at 12:44 pm, indicating that they had reached agreement with Dwyer on
certain changes and would make no more:
Banneker is revising their contract to reflect the revisions suggested to the
Insurance Section only which we discussed and agreed upon with Larry this
morning. They will send the updated agreement this afternoon for Larry to
promptly review and approve.352
Jannarone continued to e-mail Cortiella:
• June 25, 2:07 pm: “To be clear, we will send you the contract we
would like you to sign as I said earlier. If Larry has issue with what
we send, he will call me.”353
• June 25, 2:08 pm: “You are wasting your time, we have a path
forward. We will be in touch.”354
• June 25, 3:05 pm: “Larry has our copy that we want him to sign.
Thanks for your hard work.”355
When asked about these exchanges, Jannarone said that the negotiation of the terms of
Banneker’s contract should have been straightforward, because the parties had already agreed on
a form of project management contract for Walker Jones.356 Jannarone described Cortiella’s
proposed edits as “minor stuff that didn’t make one difference one way or the other. That was a
352 Ex. 92, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) to David Cortiella (Jun. 25, 2009 12:44
353 Ex. 93, E-mail from David Jannarone (EOM) to David Cortiella; Jacquelyn Glover
(EOM) (Jun. 25, 2009 2:07 PM).
354 Ex. 94, E-mail from David Jannarone (EOM) to David Cortiella; Jacquelyn Glover
(EOM) (Jun. 25, 2009 2:08 PM).
355 Ex. 95, E-mail from David Jannarone (EOM) to David Cortiella; Larry Dwyer; Jacquelyn
Glover (Jun. 25, 2009 3:05 PM).
356 Jannarone Dep. 61:14-62:20, 65:3-9.
lot of time.”357 As long as Dwyer was comfortable with the language, that was the end of it as far
as Jannarone was concerned.358
Dwyer, however, testified that he was primarily interested in including language making
it clear that DCHE was responsible only for the $700,000 worth of work it would perform, and
not on other substantive issues in the contract.359 Dwyer was aware at the time that DMPED was
not being particularly responsive to DCHE’s other comments, but chose not to press the issue,
for fear that the discussions were becoming unproductive.360 The contract was not reviewed by
DCHA’s Office of General Counsel, contrary to agency standard practice.361
Thus, the only change that was made in the final version of the contract was the one
requested by Dwyer – the addition of an introductory sentence in the insurance section in which
DCHE disclaimed responsibility for negligent or wrongful acts of the contractor or its
subcontractors, agents or employees.362 But this change did not alter the language relieving
Banneker of liability for its consultants’ work. The project management contract was signed by
Omar Karim on June 25, 2009363 and e-mailed by him to Larry Dwyer on the same day.364
357 Id. at 73:12-14.
358 Id. at 73:5-74:7.
359 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 57:3-20.
360 Id. at 64:20-65:6.
361 Interview with Hans Froelicher, General Counsel DCHA (Sep. 14, 2010).
362 Ex. 90, attachment at 7; Ex. 80, at 6.
363 Id. at 15.
364 Ex.96, E-mail from Omar A. Karim to Asmara Habte (Jun. 26, 2009 11:17 AM).
Banneker and Regan Associates subsequently signed a letter agreement under which
Regan Associates was retained as a consultant to Banneker on the DPR projects.365 The
agreement provides that Regan Associates will receive 48% of Banneker’s contract amount
(excluding consultant mark-ups) and will play the lead management role for half of the projects.
D. DCHE Approval of the Contract
On June 18, 2009, while contract negotiations were still ongoing, Larry Dwyer circulated
a DCHE board resolution proposing approval of the contract.366 But DCHE did not act on the
resolution at its June 18 meeting because it lacked a quorum.367 The MOU between DCHA and
DMPED had not been finalized at this point.
By the end of June, although the contract had not been signed by DCHE and the MOU
was not in place, Karim had already submitted Banneker’s first invoice for work done in May to
DMPED, and would soon submit a June invoice. Asmara Habte advised him that DCHE could
not make any payments without a signed contract.368 Karim pressed DCHE to approve the
contract and the MOU so payments could begin.369 On June 29, Glover told Karim that the issue
365 Ex. 97, Letter from Sean M. Regan, Regan Associates to Omar A. Karim, Banneker
Ventures (Jul. 20, 2009) (consulting agreement).
366 Ex. 98, Memo from Larry Dwyer to DCHE Board of Directors (Jun. 18, 2009).
367 See Ex. 99, E-mail from Larry Dwyer to Omar A. Karim (Jun. 28, 2009 22:29:57);
Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 71-72; Ex. 100, E-mail from Asmara Habte to Omar A. Karim (Jun.
25 2009 10:36 AM).
368 Ex. 101, E-mail from Asmara Habte to Omar A. Karim (Jun. 25, 2009 10:36 PM).
369 See Ex. 102, E-mail from Omar Karim to Asmara Habte (June. 29, 2009 9:51 AM); Ex.
103, E-mail from Omar Karim to Lawrence Dwyer (Jul. 1, 2009 5:22 PM); Ex. 104, E-mail from
Omar A. Karim to Lawrence A. Dwyer (Jul. 6, 2009 6:48 PM).
of DCHE’s fee still needed to be resolved before the MOU could be finalized.370 Glover offered
to look for other ways to pay Banneker in the interim:
Once the fees have been approved the MOU can be executed and the money can
be transferred. Since DCHE is delayed with providing their fee information, I’ll
talk with David Jannarone today to see if there are other mechanisms to issue
payment in order to prevent delay on work that is already in play.371
It appears that one of the options considered was adding the DPR invoices to Deanwood.
But after receiving Banneker’s second invoice, Glover told Karim that would not work:
Your invoices are very very high and as a result we can’t add to Deanwood
because that would put your contract over $1 Million forcing it to go to council,
per the conversation I had with Jonathan Butler. Plus you want to modify your
contract to add more money today and I’m sure you’ll be doing so again before
At her deposition, Glover testified that she described the Council approval requirement as a
problem because Banneker was looking to get paid quickly: “there is no way to put in the whole
– put in a change order over a million dollars, put it through Council and then have it be paid
As noted, the fees to be charged by DCHE to DMPED were an issue between the
agencies, which was finally resolved on July 10, 2009.374 According to Jannarone, the $700,000
fee for DCHE was the result of negotiations he had with Larry Dwyer.375 Dwyer said that the
amount was a combination of actual costs that DCHE would incur for its role in the project and a
370 See Ex. 102, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover to Omar Karim (Jun. 29, 2009 9:57 AM).
372 Ex. 105, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover to Omar A. Karim (Jul. 7, 2009 4:11 PM).
373 Glover Dep.127:1-5.
374 See Ex. 106, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover to Omar A. Karim (Jul. 10, 2009 6:07 PM).
375 Jannarone Dep. Notes.
percentage fee.376 By comparison, DCHE’s fee on the Walker Jones project was $200,000.
Jannarone explained the disparity by noting that Walker Jones was one project, while the DPR
Capital Projects involved multiple parks, commenting that the $700,000 fee sounded like a
A resolution approving the project management contract was presented to the DCHE
board for its July 14 meeting.378 The resolution stated that the contract would be awarded to
“Banneker Ventures, LLC and Regan Associates, LLC (a joint venture),” and that it would be a
“firm fixed price contract … in the amount of $4,562,600.”379 No mention was made of the 9%
mark-up, and the contract itself was not attached to the resolution.
By this point, William Slover, who was appointed chairman of the DCHA board in May
2009, was seeking information about DCHE’s role in the DPR capital projects and the
procurement of the program management contract.380 According to Slover, none of the board
members ever saw the actual contract.381 At the July 14 meeting, Slover voiced concerns about
376 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 27:21-28:2.
377 Jannarone Dep. Notes. Glover testified that she thought the $700,000 fee was high. She
believed she discussed it with Asmara Habte of DCHE and with David Jannarone, and was told
that the fact that multiple parks were involved explained the size of the fee. Glover Dep. 120:19-
378 Ex. 107, DC Housing Enterprises Resolution 09-09, effective July 14, 2009.
380 Interview with William Slover, former Chair of the DCHA Board (Apr. 19, 2010).
the contract, including the process by which it had been awarded and the size of the fees.382 One
of the four DCHE directors recused himself from the vote because of a potential conflict of
interest. Slover stated that he would not vote for the contract, and ultimately abstained.383 The
resolution passed on the votes of just two directors, Michael Kelly and William Knox. Without a
copy of the contract or full disclosure of its terms, however, the board’s review cannot be
described as meaningful, and the terms of the contract it ostensibly approved were not the terms
of the contract that DCHE signed. Larry Dwyer signed the program management contract on
behalf of DCHE on July 14, 2009.384
The DCHA board had approved entry into an MOU with DMPED by resolution dated
March 11, 2009.385 The MOU was finally signed by Valerie Santos on July 31, 2009; Michael
Kelly’s signature for DCHA is undated.386 Although the amount of the DMPED/DCHA MOU
was $40,350,000, the number of projects to be handled for DPR had already increased. At the
end of July, DPR and DMPED entered a first amendment to their MOU, adding projects and
382 Id. Michael Kelly, who was then the Executive Director of DCHA, recalled that Slover
asked a series of questions, but did not remember the specific concerns he raised. Interview with
383 According to Slover, he voted no, but Dwyer asked if he wasn’t sure if he wanted to
abstain, so Slover said he would abstain because it was the same thing as voting no. Interview
with William Slover. According to Dwyer, Slover said he wasn’t going to go forward. Dwyer
asked him to clarify his vote, and Slover then abstained. Dwyer stated that he did not encourage
Slover to abstain. Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 74:19-75:6.
384 Ex. 80, at 15. Dwyer also sent Karim a notice to proceed dated July 14, 2009. Ex. 108,
Letter from Larry Dwyer to Omar A. Karim (Jul. 14, 2009). Karim testified that he was unaware
that the notice had been sent. Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 140:5-142:9.
385 Ex. 50.
386 Ex. 52.
increasing the total funding to $68,394,795.64.387 In September 2009, DPR and DMPED
executed a second amendment, further increasing the funding to a total of $86 million.388
VI. THE BANNEKER CONTRACT WAS NOT SUBMITTED TO THE
In large part, this investigation concerns the fact that the transfer of funds to DCHA
resulted in the execution of a multi-million dollar contract that was not submitted to the Council
for review. DCHA took the position that neither it nor its subsidiaries were subject to the Council
approval requirement in D.C. Code Section 1-204.51. DMPED appears to have believed it was
relieved of any responsibility to take the contract to the Council itself because the contract was
executed by DCHE. Had the Council been apprised of the contract at the outset as it should have
been under Section 1-204.51, its questions and concerns about the award and terms of the
contract and the involvement of DMPED and DCHE could have been addressed before the
projects were underway.
It is our view that the required review would have taken place if the legal issues relating
to the Council review statute had been addressed in a careful and timely way by DCHA’s general
counsel and the Office of the Attorney General. Questions about the applicability of the statute to
387 Ex. 109, Amendment No. 1 to Memorandum of Understanding Between the District of
Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning
and Economic Development (Jul. 31, 2009), § II.A.1. This amendment was signed by Valerie
Santos for DMPED on July 30, 2009 and by Ximena Hartsock for DPR on July 31, 2009. Id. at
2. It added Parkview, 7th and N Street, 10th Street Park, Fort Stanton, Woodland Tigers, Walker
Jones, Emery Ball Field and Watts Branch to the list of projects. Id. at 3. Emery Ball Field and
Watts Branch were shown as having no funds available.
388 Ex. 110, Modification No. 2 to Memorandum of Understanding between the District of
Columbia Department of Recreation and Parks and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning
and Economic Development (Sep. 14, 2009).
independent agencies had been discussed since at least 1996, and were the subject of specific
discussions between DCHA and the Attorney General’s Office in 2007 and 2008:
• In 1996, the Council submitted a memorandum to the District’s Corporation
Counsel, Charles F.C. Ruff, specifically asking whether the Council approval
statute applied to independent agencies. In a formal opinion that addressed
independent agencies in general and the Washington Convention Center
Authority (“WCCA”) in particular (the “1996 Opinion”), the Corporation Counsel
concluded that “Congress intended that the Council review the proposed contracts
of all District government entities, including executive independent agencies like
WCCA, that exceed one million dollars during a 12-month period.”389
• DCHA, whose activities are largely HUD-funded, was formed in 2000. In 2007,
the Attorney General’s Office looked into the question of why DCHA had never
submitted a contract to the Council for approval.390 In a meeting with OAG, Hans
Froelicher, DCHA’s general counsel, stated DCHA’s view that as an independent
agency it was exempt from the requirement.391
• In a subsequent memo to the Attorney General dated October 23, 2007, OAG’s
Legal Counsel Division, relying on the 1996 Opinion and a 2006 opinion
389 Ex. 26.
390 Ex. 111, Memorandum from Legal Counsel Division, OAG, to Linda Singer, Attorney
General (Oct. 23, 2007) at 2.
concerning the legal status of the National Capital Revitalization Corporation,
concluded the DCHA was subject to the Council review provision.392
• DCHA asked an outside law firm to review the OAG’s October 23, 2007 memo
and conclusions. In a memo dated February 11, 2008, the firm concluded that:
While we note there is no definitive authority as to whether DCHA
must submit all contracts involving expenditures in excess of $1
million dollars during a 12-month period to the Council for
approval, there is precedent for exempting contracts governed by
federal contracting procedure from aspects of the District’s
procurement laws. … To the extent that DCHA contracts are
required to follow federal contracting procedures, there is a
significant rationale for exempting contracts involving
expenditures in excess of $1 million dollars from Council
approval. However, to definitively establish that DCHA contracts
are exempt from Council approval, appropriate legislation granting
the exemption should be considered.393
Thus, while the law firm opined that the issue was unresolved as to all contracts,
its arguments that DCHA contracts could be exempt related only to contracts
involving federal funds.
• For reasons that are not clear, the firm’s memo to DCHA did not analyze or even
mention the 1996 Opinion. Hans Froelicher stated that he did not see the 1996
Opinion until October 2009, after the Council’s first inquiries were made,
although he acknowledged that it might have been mentioned in one of the early
393 Ex. 112, Office Memorandum from ElChino Martin, Nixon Peabody LLP to Hans
Froelicher (Feb. 11, 2008) at 3.
394 Interview with Hans Froelicher.
• The Attorney General’s Office continued a dialogue with DCHA about the
Council approval issue through mid-2008, insisting that DCHA’s contracts were
subject to the Council approval requirement. But for reasons that are again not
clear, the 1996 Opinion was not expressly raised by OAG in these exchanges.
• In an April 22, 2008 letter to Attorney General Peter Nickles, Froelicher reacted
to a suggestion made by OAG that the agencies had agreed that the issue would
be resolved by legislation. He drew a distinction between federally-funded and
DCHA does not agree that the contract approval issue is resolved.
We do believe DCHA would bring any contracts that exceed the
one million dollar threshold or the multi-year requirement and are
funded by District funds to the City Council. The LCD has relied
on the suggestion that legislation could resolve this issue in Nixon
Peabody’s memorandum to me dated February, 2008 [a]s a
concession that legislation is necessary. We do not agree. That is
not the only resolution and our suggestion regarding contracts
funded with District money is what will provide the council with
the opportunity to review how its money is spent. Most of DCHA’s
funding comes from federal funds appropriated to HUD to operate
the federal programs DCHA administers. DCHA’s use of those
funds is regulated and audited by HUD. Clearly the legislation
separating the DCHA as a line agency of the District was to, in
part, put it in charge of its federal funds and their use. …395
• Froelicher’s language could be read as an agreement that DCHA would bring all
District-funded contracts to the Council. But according to Froelicher, his
statement was only meant as an offer of compromise, not an acknowledgement of
395 See Ex. 113 at 1-2 (emphasis original).
the correctness of OAG’s view or a commitment to obtain Council review in the
• In a June 16, 2008 memo to Froelicher, Nickles noted Froelicher’s statement
about District-funded contracts without clarifying whether he took it as an
agreement.397 Nickles continued to disagree about the legal analysis applicable to
federally-funded contracts.398 He concluded:
OAG is not opposed to DCHA’s being exempt from the contract
approval requirements. We have even suggested that the Authority
seek that relief from Congress. Nixon Peabody, in its February 11,
2008 memorandum, has also suggested that “appropriate
legislation granting the exemption should be considered.” Is the
time right, then, to work from this standpoint of apparent
agreement and discuss a proper legislative plan of action?399
• In the last piece of correspondence on this issue before the investigation,
Froelicher reiterated his position that DCHA was not subject to the Council
approval requirement, but agreed that the prudent approach was to modify the
law.400 But neither agency moved forward on legislation, nor did they clarify the
ambiguity left by the correspondence with regard to DCHA’s position on Districtfunded contracts.
The Council approval issue was not raised again until October 23, 2009, the day the
Council notified DCHA of its concerns about the award of the DPR project management contract
396 Interview with Hans Froelicher.
397 Ex. 114, Memorandum from Peter J. Nickles to Hans Froelicher (Jun. 16, 2008) at 2.
400 Ex. 115, Letter from Hans Froelicher to Peter Nickles (Jul. 24, 2008) at 1.
to Banneker Ventures. At 5:30 p.m. on that day, a Friday, DCHA asked Nickles for an “Opinion
of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia” on the applicability of the review
requirement to DCHA contracts involving District funds.401 It is not clear why Froelicher thought
this step was necessary, since he was already well aware of the Attorney General’s position. The
Attorney General responded immediately, issuing an opinion that same day (the “October 23
Opinion”). Relying heavily on the 1996 Opinion, he concluded that “without any doubt,” DCHA
must abide by the Home Rule Act and its Council approval provision.402 The Attorney General
stated that DCHA occupied a legal position within the District government that was similar to
that of WCCA, discussed in the 1996 Opinion, and therefore was bound by the conclusions in the
1996 Opinion.403 The Attorney General concluded that “DCHA, as part of the District
government, must submit its covered contracts for Council review.”404 Under this Opinion and
401 Ex. 116, E-mail from Hans Froelicher, General Counsel, District of Columbia Housing
Authority, to Peter Nickles, Attorney General, District of Columbia (Oct. 23, 2009, 17:27 EST).
402 Ex. 117, Opinion of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia, Whether the
DCHA must seek approval of the City Council for contracts for goods and services involving
expenditures in excess of $1,000,000 during a 12-month period, Oct. 23, 2009 (“October 23
Opinion”). Nickles had no specific recollection of why or how there was such a quick turnaround
(i.e., the same day) for the issuance of the opinion following Froelicher’s request. Interview with
Peter Nickles, former Attorney General of the District of Columbia (Dec. 1, 2010).
403 Id. at 2. The Attorney General also noted the binding nature of AG opinions, citing
Reorganization Order No. 50 of 1953, as amended, Part II.A(a) (written opinions of the Attorney
General, “in the absence of specific action by the Commissioner or Council to the contrary, or
until overruled by controlling court decision, shall be the guiding statement of law, to be
followed by all District officers and employees in the performance of their official duties.”) Id.
404 Id., at 2. The October 23 Opinion does not address whether the Council review
requirement applies to contracts in excess of one million dollars, or multiyear contracts, when
those contracts are funded by non-District funds. Answering that question is outside the scope of
our investigation, but it is an important distinction because many DCHA contracts involve nonDistrict funds, such as federal funds.
applying the 2007 Court of Appeals decision in Fairman v. District of Columbia,
any DCHA contract involving over one million dollars of District funds that is not approved by
the Council would be invalid.
But the following Monday, October 26, Attorney General Nickles issued a memorandum
to “clarify” the October 23 opinion.406 Stating that retroactivity was not favored in the law, the
October 26 memorandum asserted that the prior opinion “was not intended as a pronouncement
that any such past or current DCHA contracts that were awarded without Council approval are
unlawful. Indeed, such contracts should be regarded as legal and binding.”407 The Attorney
General concluded by confirming that his October 23 Opinion “is to operate prospectively
In our interview, Nickles asserted that the October 26 Memorandum was written after
several people expressed “consternation” about the impact of the October 23 Opinion on existing
contracts.409 He stated that the October 26 memorandum was a response to his general concern
about interfering with DCHA’s 10-year procurement history and the impact that his October 23
opinion might have on existing DCHA contracts. Nickles disclaimed any link between the
October 26 memorandum and the Banneker contract, and denied having any communication on
this issue over the weekend of October 24-25 with the Mayor or with anyone representing
405 Note 48.
406 Ex. 118, Opinion of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia, Council Approval
of DCHA Contracts, Oct. 26, 2009 (“October 26 Memorandum”).
409 Interview with Peter Nickles.
Banneker. Indeed, he claimed he had no knowledge of the existence of the Banneker contract
until January of 2010,410 although that statement is difficult to square with comments Nickles
made to the press on October 23 that reflect his knowledge that it was the Banneker contract in
particular that was being discussed,411 or with his subsequent letter of November 13, 2009, in
which he referenced the DCHE/Banneker contract.412 While we accept that Nickles was
genuinely concerned about DCHA’s many existing contracts when he wrote the October 26
memo, it seems unlikely that the Banneker contract was not part of his thinking.
The retroactivity analysis in the October 26 memorandum is questionable at best.
Although the law does disfavor retroactivity, a retroactive statute or rule is one that “attaches
new legal consequences to events completed before its enactment.”413 The October 23 Opinion
411 On Saturday, October 24, 2009, Nikita Stewart of the Washington Post reported on the
opinion the Attorney General had issued the previous afternoon, quoting him as saying on
Friday: “I have made my position clear,” and “The mayor agrees with me.” The article goes on
to recount the Attorney General’s reaction to specific questions about the Banneker contract as
well as general contracts awarded to Keith Lomax’s RBK Landscaping and Construction:
Nickles dismissed some council members’ concerns that the contracts went to
Fenty’s friends. “I have no reason to believe there was a problem with them. They
were all competitively bid,” he said. “The fact that the mayor has friends, has
fraternity brothers and goes to a ball game [with them], that doesn’t exclude
someone from competing for a contract.”
412 Ex. 119, Letter from Peter J. Nickles to Adrianne Todman (Nov. 13, 2009). As discussed
further below, in the November 13 letter, Nickles advised DCHA “to inform the Council of the
potentially devastating impact of its emergency and temporary legislation on the
DCHE/Banneker contract, specifically, and recreation projects in general, and submit the
contracts on an emergency basis for approval at the Council’s December 1, 2009 legislative
413 Landgraf v. USI Film Products, 511 U.S. 244, 270 (1994).
was not a new enactment but an analysis of existing precedent dating from 1996 applying a
statute dating from 1995. For ten years, DCHA had simply been wrong – “without any doubt,” as
the Attorney General put it – and for at least two years, it had been aware that the Attorney
General thought so. Moreover, the October 26 memorandum did not grapple with the 2007 D.C.
Court of Appeals decision in Fairman v. District of Columbia, which addressed the
consequences of failure to obtain Council approval of a multiyear contract and held that any such
contract lacking required approval is “invalid.”414
The Council did not accept the Attorney General’s retroactivity analysis. It passed the
Unauthorized Contract Stop Payment Temporary Act of 2009, which provides, among other
things, that “The memorandum of opinion of the Attorney General, dated October 26, 2009,
which states that contracts entered into unlawfully are nonetheless legally binding, is contrary to
the clear letter of the law and of no effect.”415 The Council also expressly disapproved the
Banneker program management contract when it was finally submitted for approval in December
2009 as a result of the investigation. The Attorney General has since acknowledged that this
disapproval action rendered the Banneker contract void.416
We do not believe that DCHA’s refusal before October 2009 to submit District-funded
contracts to the Council was well-founded, given the 1996 Opinion, of which DCHA was on
notice, the fact that DCHA’s own lawyers had found no authority for that position, and the clear
statements by the Attorney General’s Office in 2007-2008 (which Froelicher acknowledges
414 Note 48, 934 A.2d at 448.
415 Unauthorized Contract Stop Payment Temporary Act of 2009, effective March 23, 2010
(D.C. Law 18-0139).
416 Ex. 120, Letter from Peter J. Nickles to Councilmember Phil Mendelson (Oct. 28, 2010),
would have been binding on DCHA if expressed in a formal opinion). Moreover, while those
discussions were ongoing, and well before the Banneker contract was signed, DCHE executed a
$1,410,000 project management contract for Walker Jones and an MOU with DMPED for
construction of the $47 million Walker Jones project, as well as a $31 million MOU for
Deanwood which specifically referenced the need for Council approval of the Deanwood
construction contract. DCHA should have focused on its obligations with regard to Districtfunded contracts when confronted with these projects, and should have done so again when it
became involved with the DPR capital projects.
DMPED too is accountable here. It was bound by the Home Rule Act, and under its
MOU with DPR it retained primary responsibility for the DPR projects. Yet DMPED took no
action either to seek Council approval or to require DCHE to do so, as DPR had done in prior
MOUs it negotiated directly with DCHA. The Attorney General also could have taken steps to
clarify the situation, but he stated that he turned to other matters and chose to work on the issue
gradually rather than “put his foot down.”417 Had the Council review issue been handled more
responsibly by DCHA and DMPED or with more attention by OAG, the Council could have
approved or rejected the contract before it was underway, and the consequences associated with
the Council’s discovery of the issue in October, after months of performance, could have been
VII. BANNEKER’S SELECTION AND MANAGEMENT OF LIBERTY
ENGINEERING & DESIGN
It was the project manager’s function to engage the engineering and design professionals
who would be responsible for the design of the buildings and exterior spaces in compliance with
417 Interview with Peter Nickles.
all building code and legal requirements. While Banneker submitted its qualifications to perform
this function as “the Banneker-Regan team,”418 it went about choosing and paying the engineers
on its own.
One of Banneker’s very first acts after it received notice of its selection was to retain an
engineer on a sole source basis. On May 4, 2009, it hired Liberty Engineering and Design
(LEAD) to survey the sites and provide “consulting services” for ten of the projects. Banneker
subsequently contracted with LEAD to perform all of the civil, survey, geotechnical, and
environmental engineering services on all of the projects. LEAD’s selection followed an RFQ
process that called for no pricing information. And although the project management contract
required Banneker to obtain DCHE’s prior approval of the consultants it retained, both DCHE
and Banneker treated the prior approval requirement as inapplicable to the engineering contracts.
A. Liberty Engineering & Design
LEAD was formed in March of 2008 by Sinclair Skinner and Abdullahi Barrow, and it
was designated that year as a “Certified Business Enterprise (“CBE”) by the Department of
Small and Local Business Development. While Skinner obtained his undergraduate degree in
engineering, he is not licensed as a professional engineer in the District of Columbia or any other
jurisdiction.419 Abdullahi Barrow has an M.S. degree in engineering. He had served as a
418 See Ex. 64, Banneker-Regan Response to the RFQ.
419 According to the resume submitted to DSLBD with LEAD’s CBE application, Skinner
worked in the engineering field before he obtained his college degree, he served as an operations
engineer for the Architect of the Capitol for two summers, and he worked as a mechanical
engineer in HVAC for two years after college. He then operated a dry cleaning business from
1999 to 2005, and worked in city politics as an ANC commissioner and part of Mayor Fenty’s
campaign. LEAD’s response to the Banneker RFQ did not list Skinner as one of its key
personnel and did not attach his resume or describe his experience. See Ex. 121, Letter from
Abdullahi Barrow, LEAD, to Banneker Ventures, LLC, submitting proposal in response to the
RFQ (Jun. 11, 2009).
structural engineer at the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and had also
been employed by private engineering firms, but at the time LEAD was formed, he was not a
licensed professional engineer either. He failed the licensing examination on multiple
occasions,420 and first received a P.E. license on April 25, 2008 on the basis of eminence in the
Neither Skinner nor Barrow is a licensed surveyor, and LEAD did not employ a licensed
surveyor when it was engaged by Banneker to survey the park sites. At the time it was selected
to serve as the engineering contractor on the DPR projects, LEAD had not previously served as
the chief engineer on the construction or renovation of any public recreation centers or parks,422
and it had little or no prior experience providing the full range of engineering services on any
other types of projects.423
LEAD itself lacked the capacity to carry out the work assigned to it. Indeed, LEAD
promptly contracted out virtually all of its work on the projects to other engineering firms.
420 Ex. 122, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Business and Professional
Licensing Administration Examination Candidate Abstract Printout, Abdullahi Barrow (Oct. 25,
421 Ex. 123, Government of the District of Columbia Board of Professional Engineering
Minutes (Apr. 24, 2008). Licensure based upon established and recognized standing in the
engineering profession was available at that time to an engineer with more than 12 years of
experience pursuant to D.C. Code §47-2886.08(2)(A)(v). Barrow had worked at DCRA since
2004, and he was supported in his application by officials there. Ex. 124, Government of the
District of Columbia Occupational and Professional Licensing Administration Application,
Abdullahi Barrow (Aug. 13, 2007). While DCRA was unable to produce any witnesses with any
personal knowledge about, or recollection of, Barrow’s application or the decision to grant him a
license, the investigation and review of DCRA records unearthed no reason to conclude that any
improper influence was brought to bear in his case. Barrow’s engineering experience is detailed
in the resume he included in LEAD’s response to Banneker’s RFQ. See Ex. 121.
422 Deposition of Abdullahi Barrow (Sep. 30, 2010) 71:2-72:1.
423 Id. at 72:2-77:19.
LEAD applied significant mark-ups to the amounts due those subcontractors, and our review of
LEAD’s invoices reveals gross overcharging, which was passed through to the District by
Banneker – subject to Banneker’s own 9% mark-up – without challenge. Furthermore, the
investigation has revealed that LEAD’s proposal in response to Banneker’s RFQ was false and
misleading in multiple respects that could very well have been known to Karim.
The evidence thus gives rise to significant concerns about LEAD’s selection and
performance and Banneker’s expenditure of city funds. These concerns are magnified by
contemporaneous, unexplained financial dealings between Karim, Skinner, and their wholly
owned “consulting” companies, Liberty Law Group and Liberty Industries. Since the
connections between Skinner and Karim form the backdrop for Banneker’s interactions with
LEAD, they will be described in more detail below, and it is our conclusion that the combination
of all of these circumstances warrants further investigation. The facts also, at the very least, raise
questions about the adequacy of Banneker’s management of the DPR capital projects as well as
the quality of the oversight that was provided by DMPED and DCHA.
B. The Relationship between Karim and Skinner
Banneker’s decision to retain LEAD for the DPR capital projects must be viewed in the
context of the larger set of relationships between Sinclair Skinner and Omar Karim.424
424 According to Karim, the two had a long term relationship that went back 20 years, prior
to their days in engineering school.
1. Banneker Ventures
Karim founded Banneker Ventures in 2005.425 Although he and Skinner have both
testified that Skinner was never employed at Banneker, Skinner has distributed Banneker
business cards with his name printed on them.426 The card identifies a phone extension and an email address for Skinner at Banneker Ventures. Skinner testified that he was a “volunteer,” who
offered to perform undefined “community outreach” for Banneker.427
I mean one of the things with small businesses, there are so many hats you wear. I
mean you have to be everywhere at one time. There are so many different things
you’ve got to do. At the end of the day I thought that he needed help in that area,
in getting, you know, just having folks, a person that could, you know, volunteer
and talk to folks in the community.428
Banneker is a for-profit company, but Karim also explained the business card by saying that
Skinner was a “volunteer” for a short period of time in 2007.429
2. Liberty Law Group
Banneker Ventures is not Omar Karim’s only business interest. He has a law degree, and
during the time period involved in the investigation, he operated a business he called Liberty
425 Karim testified during his deposition on August 5 that the company had no other
investors or owners, Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 37:22-38:2, but during the deposition on
September 21, he indicated that it had “numerous owners at different times.” Karim Dep. (Sep.
21, 2010) 49:15-16.
426 Ex. 125, Sinclair Skinner printed business card for Banneker Ventures, LLC.
427 Joint Roundtable (Apr. 15, 2010) 117:8-15.
429 Joint Roundtable (Dec. 10, 2009) 162:17-163:13, 182:15-17, 183:8-9, 184:2-5.
Law Group, which Karim states was formed in 2007 and dissolved in 2010.430 It maintained
bank accounts in the name of Law Offices of Omar A. Karim, PLLC, d/b/a Liberty Law Group,
with an address at 700 12th Street in Washington, DC. When the Special Counsel investigation
began in March of 2010, Liberty Law Group had no website or presence on the internet. While
Omar Karim was listed as member in good standing on the D.C. Bar’s website in 2010, his entry
there identified Banneker Ventures in Silver Spring, Maryland, and not Liberty Law Group in
D.C., as his professional address.
Karim was asked about Liberty Law Group during his December 10, 2009 testimony
before the Committee. He stated that he ran the firm as its sole partner, but his description of the
nature of his work was quite vague. “If our clients ask for legal advice we render it, but it’s
mostly consulting.… Maybe community consulting and that type of thing, business
consulting.”431 At his deposition on August 5, Karim refused to answer questions about Liberty
Law Group, often interposing the objections himself.432 After the court granted the Council’s
motion to compel him to answer, Karim appeared for a second deposition session. But despite
the Court’s order, Karim provided no additional detail, and his answers were as uninformative as
his previous refusals to respond.
Q: Describe the business of Liberty Law Group.
A: What about it.
Q: What business does it do?
430 According to the opposition to the motion to compel that Karim filed on his own behalf,
he founded Liberty Law Group in 2007 and dissolved it in May 2010. When Judge Winfield
granted the motion to compel on September 17, 2010, she ordered Karim to produce formation
and organizational documents of Liberty Law Group. None were provided.
431 Joint Roundtable (Dec. 10, 2009) 176:16-177:1.
432 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 43:8-19.
A: It’s no longer in existence…. The firm provided consulting services and legal
Q: What sort of consulting services?
A: Community consulting services.
Q: So Liberty Law Group was in the business of providing community consulting
A: You said that, I didn’t.
Q: You said they provide community consulting.
A: And legal services.
Q: What clients asked for community consulting?
A: I don’t recall. 433
Q: What do you mean by “community consulting?
A: That’s exactly what I mean, consulting, you know, in the community. 434
3. Liberty Industries
Sinclair Skinner also purports to be providing consulting services, and also began using a
“Liberty” moniker to do so in 2007. Skinner is the sole owner of a business called Liberty
Industries LLC, which he formed in February 2007, one month after Mayor Fenty was sworn
into office. Skinner has been vague in describing the nature of its work. He told the Committee
on April 15, 2010 that it was business consulting, “filling a need” in the community: “…[A]s the
small business person on Georgia Avenue, I ended up having a unique set of skills that I had so
many people coming to me and saying I need some help, I need some help with this, and I
thought it was just, again, about filling a need.”435
433 Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 28:14-29:22.
434 Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 23:6-8. The investigation revealed that the boundaries
between these various business entities are rather indistinct. Not only did the record include a
Banneker business card for Skinner, but one of Karim’s Liberty Law Group clients, Brian
“Scott” Irving of Blue Skye Construction, testified that Skinner and Karim provided services to
him after he hired Liberty Law Group, and that Skinner gave him a Liberty Law Group business
card. Irving Dep.27-28. Documents that Irving produced include Liberty Law Group invoices
transmitted to him from email@example.com in December of 2009 and January of 2010. Ex.
126, E-mails from Sinclair Skinner to firstname.lastname@example.org (Dec. 21, 2009, Jan. 25,
2010) with The Liberty Law Group invoices attached.
435 Joint Roundtable (Apr. 15, 2010) 126:18-22.
Skinner was deposed in an unrelated Council inquiry in September 2009, at a time when
LEAD was actively engaged in the DPR work. But he testified that he was self-employed, and he
identified his company as Liberty Industries. Skinner seemed flummoxed when asked to describe
what Liberty Industries did, responding that Liberty Industries was involved in unspecified
“business endeavors” and “entrepreneurial activities” such as “business development,”
“consulting,” and “helping,” including work for clients seeking to do business with the District
of Columbia. 436 When asked to provide a “concrete example” of the work that Liberty Industries
performed, he could offer only this:
436 There is no official transcript of the September 2009 deposition, which was tape recorded
at the Council’s offices. The transcript of the following excerpts was prepared by Special
Q: “When you say you’re self-employed, could you describe what the nature of
your business is?”
A: “Well, I’m an entrepreneur.”
Q: “Could you be more specific?”
A: “Um, um.”
Counsel for Skinner: “What’s the name of your business?
A: “Um, Liberty Industries.”
Q: “And what does Liberty Industries do?”
A: “Just different business endeavors, and, just entrepreneurial activities as far as
different, really, a variety of [inaudible]”
Q: “I would you ask for some more specifics. Could you give me some of the
nature of the business that you do?”
A: “Just like business development, and helping, like, consulting.”…
Q: “Okay. Now, I want to get back to this matter about the income earned by this
business. You say that the projects that you take on, some of the groups that
you take on to facilitate their work in some fashion or other are seeking work
with the District of Columbia?”
A: “Can you be more – can you rephrase it?”
Q: “You said that, you know, groups come to you, developers who develop
projects, right, and the nature of what they ask you to do, if I’m understanding
this correctly, is to provide them with experts in various fields, typically
engineering. Is that what you said?”
A: “No, I didn’t say development, it could be anybody that, you know, who has a
project or something they’re trying to get done, and they need somebody to
(footnote continued on next page)
Concrete example. Um. Ah. What’s a good, good, good example? Um.
Organizing, um, an opportunity to, ah, work with, um, I’ve got a project right now
working with engineering and helping to do some geotechnical studies and, ah,
what else, ah surveys, and kind of coordinating, you know, where to find good
survey folks and, where to, you know, stuff like that. Most of it is engineering
Skinner’s September 2009 description of Liberty Industries seems to embody what it was that
Liberty Engineering was doing at the time on the DPR projects. When asked whether his
company actually did the engineering work, though, Skinner replied, “no, no, no.”438
As discussed further below, this investigation uncovered business dealings and
significant transfers of funds between Karim’s firm, Liberty Law Group, and Skinner’s firm,
Liberty Industries. But at his deposition in this matter, Skinner was virtually incapable of
describing the business of Liberty Industries or its work for Liberty Law Group:
Q: [W]hen did you form Liberty Industries?
A: I don’t recall.
Q: What was the purpose for … forming Liberty Industries?
Q: What sort of consulting did you intend to do?
A: General consulting.
Q: Well, did you provide, through Liberty Industries, consulting services to
Liberty Law Group?
Q: And how did that come about?
A: I don’t recall.
Q: Who did you have conversations with at Liberty Law Group to discuss the
consulting services or the possibility of providing consulting services?
A: I don’t remember those conversations.
Q: Well you were a friend of Mr. Karim’s?
come and help them kind of figure out what are some good folks to work with
as far as, or what’s a good way to do a particular project….”
437 From untranscribed Deposition of Sinclair Skinner before the D.C. Council (Sep. 3,
Q: Are you saying that you didn’t have any conversation with Mr. Karim about
providing consulting services to Liberty Law Group?
A: I just don’t remember.
Q: Well was there any written agreement between yourself or Liberty Industries
on the one hand and Liberty Law Group on the other about providing
A: I don’t recall.
Q: Were there any invoices that Liberty Industries provided to Liberty Law Group
for the consulting services that were rendered?
A: I don’t recall.
Q: Was there any work – written work product or documents that were created
reflecting the consulting services that were provided to Liberty Law Group by
A: I don’t recall.
Q: In connection with your services to Liberty Law Group, who did you meet
A: I don’t recall any meetings.439
Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos was able to shed more light on Skinner’s activities than
Skinner himself. She testified that Skinner had been to the Deputy Mayor’s office “a number of
times,” requesting that she meet with CBE companies interesting in bidding on opportunities
with the city.440 She was unaware of whether Skinner was being compensated for making the
introductions, and she did not recall whether he indicated that he was acting as a consultant, but
she estimated there had been half a dozen meetings. She particularly recalled one meeting with
“two guys from Ward 8 who had a construction business.”441 Santos also specifically recalled a
meeting when Skinner introduced Abdullahi Barrow and his engineering firm to her. According
to her, the upshot of the meeting was: “here’s this up and coming person who’s trying to get a
firm off the ground.”442
439 Skinner Dep. (Oct. 6, 2010) at 8:3-10:1.
440 Santos Dep. Notes.
442 Santos Dep. 54:12-56:12.
City Administrator Neil Albert also testified that Skinner would seek to introduce him to
people interested in doing business with the city.443 He likened Skinner’s role to that of a
“lobbyist,” and he could particularly recall that Skinner spoke to him about an insurance
David Jannarone testified, though, that Skinner’s promotional activities did not extend to
him. He testified that he considered Skinner to be a personal friend and had traveled with him to
the Dominican Republic and Brazil, but he stated that Skinner never talked to him about Liberty
Industries.445 “I knew he was a consultant, but we never talked about business. I don’t talk about
business with any of my friends.”446 According to Jannarone, Skinner did not speak with him in
his position at DMPED on behalf of any client.447 When asked if Skinner brought any clients to
meet with him about city business, Jannarone replied, “not that I recall.”448 Jannarone said he did
not know whether Skinner brought business people in to meet with Santos, and he did not think
that Skinner would have set up such meetings through him.449
During the unrelated September 2009 deposition, before public attention had been
focused on Banneker Ventures and its relationship with him, Skinner testified that Banneker
443 Albert Dep. 133:22-34:3.
444 Albert Dep. 134:5-35:4.
445 Jannarone Dep. Notes
Ventures was a Liberty Industries client that was attempting to do work with the District.450
However, during his deposition in connection with the Special Counsel investigation a year later,
Skinner could no longer recall whether he did any consulting for Banneker Ventures or not.451
For his part, Karim denied discussing city business opportunities with Skinner.452 And he
was emphatic that Liberty Industries did no work for Banneker Ventures and did not help it
secure its contracts:
Liberty Industries provided service to Liberty Law Group. It never provided any
services to Banneker eve[r]. … Be very, very, very clear about that.453
So if what you’re trying to get to is that Liberty provided or we paid Liberty
because they got us a contract on Walker Jones, it’s 1,000 percent false. It’s
inaccurate. It’s not true. It’s somewhat irresponsible for you to say that.454
4. The 12th Street address
Liberty Law Group, Liberty Industries, and Liberty Engineering are tied together by more
than just their similar names. Liberty Law Group’s bank records identified 700 12th Street,
450 From Untranscribed Skinner Dep. (D.C. Council Sep. 2009):
Q: You were asked how many clients are attempting to work with the District
government. You answered, I don’t know. Do you have any clients that are
attempting to or happen to work with the District?
A: I can’t recall right now.
Q: I just want to make sure I understand. You cannot recall whether you have any
clients that have attempted to do work with the District government?
A: Banneker Ventures.
Q: So Banneker Ventures is a client of Liberty Industries?
451 Skinner Dep. (Oct. 6, 2010) 47:15-17.
452 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 80:19-22.
453 Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 28:10-13.
454 Id. at 46:21-47:3.
N.W., Suite 700, as the firm’s address. The bank records for Liberty Industries identify 700 12th
Street, N.W., Suite 700, as that firm’s address. When Banneker Ventures submitted its response
to the request for qualifications for the DPR capital projects contract in March of 2009, it
provided 700 12th Street, N.W., Suite 700 as its address. And Liberty Engineering and Design
utilized the same address on its bank account as of April 2008, listed the address on its CBE
application in May 2008, and provided it, along with another address on Martin Luther King
Avenue, S.E., on its 2009 proposal for the DPR engineering subcontracts and subsequent
The 700 12th Street location houses executive office suites, and according to records
provided to the Committee by the landlord, three of these companies – Banneker Ventures,
Liberty Law, and LEAD – have alternated as the tenant of a single office (“office 61”) within
suite 700 from January 2007 until at least November 2009.455 And although Liberty Industries is
not formally listed as a tenant in any Office Service Agreement executed with the landlord, the
landlord’s records do contain references to the “Liberty Industries account.”456 Thus, all four
entities have ties to the same single office within the suite over the course of at least two and a
There is nothing inherently improper, of course, about small companies using the same
office space or using a corporate suite as a mail drop. But the documents that track the usage of
455 LEAD is identified as the tenant from February to July 2008 on the Office Service
Agreement dated January 31, 2008. Ex. 127, Metro Offices Office Service Renewal Agreement
(Jul. 31, 2008).
456 See e.g. Ex. 128, E-mail from Korie Bedsole, Metro Offices, to Sinclair Skinner (Aug.
12, 2009 12:43 PM EST) (referencing “your Liberty Industries account”); Ex. 129, One Metro
Center Exercise Facility Agreements (“Sinclair Skinner/Liberty Industries” listed as the
the 12th Street address raise questions about the relationship among these companies. According
to the landlord’s records, it was Liberty Law Group that first entered into an agreement with
Metro Offices to lease Office Number 61 in January of 2007, but the contact information
provided on the lease was not for Karim, but for Skinner: email@example.com When the
lease was renewed in the name of Banneker Ventures,458 the contact person again was shown as
Sinclair@fenty06.com. And at the time LEAD was first engaged by Banneker to perform
engineering work on the DPR projects, the landlord was billing Banneker for the office space,
and Karim’s Liberty Law Group was paying the bills.459
5. The financial relationships between Karim and Skinner
The most significant ties between Skinner, Karim, and their Liberty entities were
financial. Bank records obtained during the investigation establish that over $1,130,000 was
transferred from Liberty Law Group’s bank account to Liberty Industries from 2008 to April
2010. Yet neither Skinner nor Karim could provide a single reason why. Through a combination
of blanket assertions of failure of recollection and flippant, non-responsive remarks, the two
effectively stonewalled the investigation.
Liberty Law Group made transfers to Liberty Industries of more than $610,000 in 2008;
more than $440,000 in 2009 (including tens of thousands of dollars during the months that
Banneker and LEAD were working on the DPR capital projects); and more than $65,000 in
457 Ex. 130, Metro Offices, Office Service Agreement (Jan. 12, 2007).
458 Ex. 131, Metro Offices, Office Service Renewal Agreement (May 25, 2007).
459 Ex. 132, LLG check # 1077, dated Apr. 29, 2009, to Metro Office (“May rent”); Ex. 133,
LLG check # 1084, dated Jun. 2, 2009, to Metro Office (“June rent”).]
2010.460 The transfers were accomplished through approximately 70 different transactions. The
purpose of these payments was described on the face of checks as being for “services rendered.”
In addition, at least $16,000 was transferred from Liberty Law Group directly to Sinclair Skinner
in 2008.461 And in 2008 Liberty Industries made two payments to Karim or Liberty Law Group,
denominated as “loans,” totaling $55,000.462
Karim testified that Liberty Industries did “community consulting” for Liberty Law
Group, whose business he also described as providing “community consulting services.”463 But
he elected to shed no light on the matter beyond that.
Q: …[W]hat did he [Skinner] say that Liberty Industries could do for you?
A: … I’m not sure what you’re referring to. This is – this thing that was two and a
half years ago, almost three years ago, that’s a long time…. I’m sure you don’t
remember a conversation that you had in January 2008 with one of your law
partners or an employee or consultant or – your – the lady that cleans your
Q: Well… you made another $13,000 payment to him. What was that for?
A: To Liberty Industries. Again, as I indicated, they did community consulting for
my law firm.
Q: Can you describe what you mean by “community consulting”?
A: Just what it says.
Q: Well, I’m not sure I understand it. I mean, I’m not sure I understand why it
would be worth over a million dollars over a couple year period…. [I]f you
460 See Ex. 134, Liberty Law Group bank statements and cancelled checks showing
payments and wire transfers from the Liberty Law Group account (Law Office of Omar Karim)
to Liberty Industries in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In some instances – August 2008, for example –
transfers were made directly from the Liberty Law Group account to the Liberty Industries
account. The account numbers on the bank statements and checks have been redacted. See also
Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 24:12-25:7.
461 Ex. 135, “Official Check” in the amount of $16,000 drawn on the account of Liberty Law
Group to Sinclair Skinner dated Mar. 27, 2008. The check memo states “Gift for purchase of
1737 Webster St. NW.”
462 Ex. 136, Check #1033 from Liberty Industries, LLC, to Liberty Law Group in the amount
of $50,000 dated Sep. 9, 2008 (“loan”).
463 Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 23:2-5, 29:3-19.
look at the – all of the checks and payments, wire transfers over the course of a
couple of years to March 2010, you will see that a total of over $1.1 million
was transferred to … Liberty Industries. Do you see that? … Can you tell us
what these payments were for?
A: I just told you.
Q: So all of the payments related to what? Community?
A: As I indicated, you know, they did community consulting for us. Whether you
think that’s worth a million dollars or not, it’s not up to you to determine that.
Your clients might not think you’re worth what … they pay you.
* * *
Q: Well, try to describe if somebody had a question as to what “community
consulting” meant. Describe that.
A: I already did.
Q: Well, I think you said community consulting is community consulting.
Q: Can you be more specific as to what community consulting is?
Skinner similarly declined to offer a single fact that would explain why it was that he
received more than a million dollars from Liberty Law Group. Instead, he came to the deposition
that was scheduled for the specific purpose of obtaining testimony on that issue armed with a
copy of the Council resolution authorizing the investigation into the DPR capital projects. When
asked questions about his work for Karim, he claimed that he could not recall anything beyond
the fact that it was not related to the subject matter of the investigation. For example, when he
was shown an exhibit, he answered, reading from the resolution:
Q: Mr. Skinner, there are a series of checks. The first one is for $30,000. A week
later there’s another check for $20,000. Within the next month there are two
checks, one for $20,000 and one for $90,000. These are checks, all checks
going from Liberty Law Group to Liberty Industries, and my question is: why
were these payments made from Liberty Law Group to Liberty Industries?
A: I don’t recall, but I know that it had nothing to do with the determining of
policies and procedures or any other practices surrounding the transfer of funds
or authority via memorandum of understanding or any other instrumentality for
the Department of Parks and Recreation capital projects or funds concerning
464 Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 23:6-25:7; 26:6-15.
Department of Parks and Recreation Capital Projects. I know that for
Skinner gave some variation of that answer 19 times.466 He declared, “I’m glad to be here to
help,”467 but responded to 90 other questions with a flat “I don’t recall.”
Skinner was accorded every opportunity to enhance the state of the record, and he was
specifically warned that his failure to provide responsive answers would affect the investigators’
assessment of his credibility.468
465 Skinner Dep. (Oct. 6, 2010) 35:2-18.
466 Skinner Dep. (Oct. 6, 2010) 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 21, 23, 35, 37, 40, 44, 45, 46, 51, and
467 Skinner Dep. (Oct. 6, 2010) 24:7-8.
468 Karim was provided with a similar admonition, but he persisted in his evasions:
Karim: …I just want to make a statement. Liberty Industries did provide no
services to me or my firm in connection with the DPR capital project. A
hundred percent clear about that, nor did my law firm do any work in
connection [with] the DPR capital project.
Q: And Mr. Karim, just so you know, as I made clear to Judge Winfield on
Friday, we want to test the credibility of that denial by trying to find out, well,
what is it that Liberty Industries did do for your company, and my
understanding is that you have said they did community consulting. And I’ve
asked you what does that mean, and you’ve said community consulting…. And
I asked you can you recall any specific conversation and you said could not.
Q: …[D]o you recall the conversation that you had with him when he first
basically was talking to you about providing these community consulting
A: I don’t. Three years ago, conversation, nope.
Q: …[D]o you recall any conversation with Mr. Skinner regarding these what
you’ve identified as community consulting services?
(footnote continued on next page)
Q: Mr. Skinner, as I mentioned to you, the Court has previously made clear, when
this matter was put to the court, that it was appropriate for us to make inquiry
regarding the very substantial payments that were made from Liberty Law
Group, Mr. Karim’s company, to Liberty Industries, your company, over a
million dollars over the course of a two, maybe a little bit more than a two year
period. And we’re trying to get answers to these questions, because it is a fair
inquiry to make an assessment as to whether these payments were related. I
understand there’s been testimony from you that they were not related, but
we’re trying to make credibility determinations on how we see it. And my
question to you is: is it your testimony, under oath … that you have no
recollection about any of these events? Is that true that you have no
recollection or is it simply you think that’s a way that you can avoid answering
A: No, I don’t recall. What I do recall though, and I do recall something, and
nothing that I participated in involved a determination of policies, procedures
or other practices surrounding the transfer of funds or authority via
memorandum of understanding or any other instrumentality of the Department
of Parks and Recreation Capital Projects. I think that’s a fair assessment.
Q: Well, and just so you know, we are going to have to make some credibility
assessments and so I want to be absolutely fair to you and make sure that I am
clear about your testimony. And is it your sworn testimony here today, as you
sit here, that you have no memory of any of the services that you provided to
earn over a million dollars from Liberty Law Group?
A: I don’t recall the services that were rendered. At this time, I don’t recall. And
I’m not going to do anything that doesn’t give you the facts that I can
substantiate clearly. I want to be as open and forthcoming with facts, not
speculation, guesses. I want to give a complete answer when I have those
answers. And I think I’ve given complete answers and I’ve done my best to –
with the documents that I’ve submitted were – almost probably three thousandsome-odd documents. I’ve given hours and hours of sworn testimony in all
types of environments. I’ve – my bank statements and everything that I’ve
done of the last years that even went beyond the scope of the time frame of
these Parks projects has been reviewed. If my credibility is somehow in
question, after doing all these things, I think it’s not an issue of anything that I
A: Not that I can recall six months ago.
Q: So why did you stop making these payments?
A: We no longer needed their services.
Q: And describe the conversation that you had with Mr. Skinner about that.
A: I don’t recall.
Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 42:7-43:10; 45:5-9; 57:7-15.
have said or done, it’s an issue of something else that I don’t – I’m not aware
But I’ve done everything, as a business person, that is I think beyond
reasonable. And I’ve had no reluctance in coming in. I’ve done what I’ve been
asked to do….469
The Special Counsel gave Skinner one final chance to provide truthful, helpful information, but
he declined the invitation.
Q: Well Mr. Skinner, as I say, we have questions about these payments from
Liberty Law Group to Liberty Industries. This is really your opportunity to
give us your side of the story, that’s why we asked the questions. You’ve just
said what you said. And my question is: is there anything else you’d like to tell
us to help us understand better why these payments were made from Liberty
Law Group to Liberty Industries that you haven’t already said? Now’s your
A: All of the things that I’ve done, none of these things have anything to do with
the policies, procedures or any other practices surrounding the transfer of funds
or authority via memorandum of understanding or any other instrumentality for
the Department of Parks and Recreation capital projects. At all.470
C. “I Don’t Recall”
This testimony (or lack of testimony) about Liberty Industries and Liberty Law Group
was part of a pattern that characterized all of Skinner and Karim’s responses to questions from
the Special Counsel. In addition to providing evasive and minimally substantive responses,
Karim and Skinner answered a significant portion of the questions posed during their depositions
with the assertion: “I don’t recall.” Barrow, who was questioned on two occasions, did the same.
The witnesses’ professed failure to recall was so extensive and so complete that it appeared to be
part of an orchestrated strategy to withhold information, and raised serious questions about their
469 Skinner Dep. (Oct. 6, 2010) 50:13-53:2.
470 Skinner Dep. (Oct. 6, 2010) 54:10-55:4.
Karim deflected numerous questions with responses such as:
• “I don’t recall. You’re talking about three years ago;”
• “Two years. Over two years ago? … I certainly don’t recall;”
• “It’s been a year and a half ago. I don’t recall;”
• “This is over a year ago;” and even,
• “Not that I can recall six months ago.”471
Karim was unable to remember what percentage of his time was devoted to construction
management or how much of his time he devoted to the practice of law.472 He even claimed he
could not recall whether Liberty Law Group had any employees.473
Barrow and Skinner could not recall such fundamental things as how it was that the two
got together, how they planned to function as an engineering firm when neither had a P.E.
license, or whether they launched their business with bank loans or funds from other investors.474
When Barrow was asked if he had failed the P.E. exam more than once, he would only say:
“Possibly.”475 Barrow claimed in September 2010 that he could not remember the names of
employees supposedly working at LEAD the previous July, or when it was that LEAD last
employed anyone at all.476
471 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 41:2-3; 50:10-13; 114:8-9; and 183:1; Karim Dep. (Sep. 21,
472 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 40:19–42:5.
473 Id. at 42:11-13.
474 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 13:2-19, 18:9-14; Joint Roundtable (Apr. 15, 2010) 62:2-
475 Id. at 11:22.
476 Id. at 53:12-53:8.
While Barrow was unresponsive and vague, Skinner exhibited a fundamental lack of
seriousness. Although Liberty Law Group is a one man operation owned by his friend Karim,
Skinner claimed he could not recall who he spoke with at Liberty Law Group about providing
consulting services.477 He swore that he was unable to recall whether or not he was familiar with
Karim’s signature.478 Skinner even refused to identify his own signature whenever it appeared
on a document he claimed not to remember.479 This persisted throughout a deposition that had
been scheduled for the very purpose of discussing Liberty Industries’ bank records:
Q: Now if you’d look at the next page … this is dated October 2, 2009 and it’s
from Liberty Industries to Liberty Engineering and Design …. Do you
recognize the signature?
A: I don’t recall this check.
Q: Well I understand your testimony is that you don’t recall the check, my
question is, do you recognize the signature?
A: I don’t want to speculate because I don’t recall the check.
Q: So is it your testimony you can’t, as you sit here, recognize that that is your
A: I’m saying I don’t recall.480
The unexplained financial ties between Omar Karim and Sinclair Skinner and the failure
of either witness to provide substantive answers about those matters, coupled with the manner in
which Banneker selected and managed LEAD on the DPR capital projects, which is discussed in
detail below, raise serious questions about the fairness of the procurement of the engineer and
Banneker’s use of District funds. Accordingly, we recommend that the Council submit this
477 Skinner Dep. (Oct. 6, 2010) 8:19-22.
478 Id. at 28:13-18.
479 Id. at 31:13-33:14, 36:5-20.
480 Id. at 38:4-19. If Karim, Skinner and Barrow truly had a failure of recollection as
profound as what they described under oath, then there are serious questions as to whether the
three possess the fundamental competence to perform multi-year government contracts.
aspect of the investigation to the United States Attorney. We do not express a view as to the
outcome of a further investigation, but without access to the tools available to a prosecutor, the
Special Counsel cannot comfortably advise the Committee that no further investigation is
D. Banneker’s Selection of LEAD
1. The initial sole source contract
On April 30, 2009, DCHE notified Banneker of its intent to award the project
management contract to the Banneker/Regan team.481 By a letter agreement dated May 4, 2009,
Banneker authorized LEAD to begin performing consulting and surveying services, with the
understanding that the parties would negotiate and execute an agreement covering those services
later.482 While Banneker was not yet under contract with DCHE, it committed to pay LEAD
consulting fees up to $25,000 ($2,500 per project) and an amount to be determined per site for
the surveys – despite the fact that LEAD employed no licensed surveyors. Although prior
approval of the hiring of consultants was provided for in the project management contract,
Banneker did not obtain DCHE’s consent to its retention of LEAD. Karim was of the view that
481 Ex. 137, Letter from Larry Dwyer, President, DCHE, to Omar A. Karim, Banneker
Ventures, LLC (Apr. 30, 2009).
482 Ex. 138, Letter from Duane W. Oates, Banneker Ventures, to Abdullahi Barrow, P.E.,
Liberty Engineering and Design, PLLC (May 4, 2009).
the contract, which he said had been based upon the Walker Jones contract, required prior
approval only for the hiring of general contractors, and not the architects or engineers.483
During his deposition, Karim was asked to explain LEAD’s role in the DPR projects:
There are two aspects of Liberty’s involvement. The first aspect came, we
engaged them to do some limited consulting services and some survey services,
because we needed someone to come on board once we found out …how much
was involved and the timetables behind it, you can’t just go get an architect, find
him, and have him build a rec center on a 20 acre site without knowing where the
site [is] going to be, who[‘s] got soil issues and that type of thing. So we brought
them on in the early, limited engagement for that, I think, no more than $2500 per
site for the consulting services, and then to do limited survey services on an as
needed basis for some of the projects that were … done early on.
And then there was a second aspect of it once we realized how much, how many
projects were involved and the scopes of those. We thought it was appropriate not
to just sole source Liberty the other survey work and the other work associated
with it. So we thought it was appropriate to issue a competitive request for
qualifications, which we did. And then once we got some response of some
people who asked us to send the RFQ to them, not many of them were LSDB, so
we extended the period so as to get LSDB’s involved. And then, ultimately we
Karim testified that LEAD was initially selected to do the surveys because the firm had
successfully done survey work for Banneker on at least one previous project.485 Karim could not
483 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010)153:4-19. Despite the plain language of the contract, Larry
Dwyer also testified that he expected Banneker to manage the design process and soft costs
itself, and that he only intended to pre-approve the construction contractor selections. Dwyer
Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 107:7-108:21. He understood that Banneker would handle the procurement
of the architects and engineers and he was not interested in taking on the administrative burden
of approving Banneker’s selections in advance. He did expect, though, that DCHA would receive
the appropriate documentation, which did not happen in this case until after the Council inquiry
began. Id. at 79:6-81:8.
484 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 148:21-150:4.
485 Id. at 153:4-154:13. Karim identified a private project called The Jazz as the site for
which LEAD had previously completed a survey. Id. at 153:18-154:3. As was the case for the
DPR projects, LEAD subcontracted the survey work on the Jazz to Anthony Currie, a licensed
surveyor located in Maryland.
recall who made the decision in May to hire LEAD to prepare surveys, but he stated that he
would have signed off on it.486 Duane Oates, a top Banneker project manager for the DPR
projects, could not recall who selected LEAD to perform the initial surveys either. He indicated
that it is not unusual for engineering firms to rely upon subcontractors for particular
subspecialties, but he stated that he would have assumed that a firm that professed to be able to
provide surveys had the ability to stamp them.487
While Oates fully appreciated the need to have a credentialed surveyor involved in a
construction project, his boss did not appear to be aware of that fundamental requirement.
Q: Were you aware that Mr. Barrow was not licensed to perform surveys?
A: Licensed to perform surveys. Are individuals licensed to perform surveys? Is
that what you’re – I mean are you making that statement that individuals have
licenses to perform surveys?488
Nonetheless, Karim was comfortable that LEAD was fully qualified.489 For his part, Skinner
declared LEAD to be “overqualified” since Barrow was a civil engineer.490
486 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 150:18-151:12.
487 Interview with Duane Oates, Project Manager, Banneker Ventures, LLC (Nov. 9, 2010).
488 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 55:8-13.
489 Id. at 153:3-6; 159:3-10.
490 Joint Roundtable (Apr. 28, 2010) 22:14-17, 47:1-5. “We’re an engineering company.
Survey work falls underneath that. Now I’m not saying underneath says it’s beneath it, but much
like a doctor might have someone who does lab tech work or x-ray technician work … that might
be a licensed person to take x-rays, but a doctor can – will take that information and decide what
ails you and what the problems are. So even though our principal engineer is not a licensed
surveyor, as a P.E., as a professional engineer, he oversees the surveys. He takes that information
and uses it just like a doctor uses an x-ray to determine what’s the best course of action… So
even though we didn’t have a licensed surveyor, as a professional engineer, we’re overqualified,
really, to do that work.” Id. at 21:17-22:17.
Banneker’s contract with Regan Associates provided that the more experienced
contractor would participate in “identifying professional service firms (architects, engineers, and
other consultants) to serve on the project team,” and “working with Banneker to evaluate bids
and proposals [and] negotiate major contracts.”491 But it does not appear that Banneker solicited
Regan’s input. Members of the Regan team indicated during their interview that they were not
consulted when Banneker initially brought LEAD on board, and they did not know who made
the decision. They were well aware that it is necessary to have a licensed surveyor’s stamp on
construction plans, and they did not know what the $2,500 per park consulting fee was supposed
to be for.492
DMPED’s Jacqui Glover testified that Banneker advised her of the need to get some early
survey work done, and that she had no objection to its retention of LEAD for that purpose.493 But
she was unaware of the firm’s capabilities or limitations and did not educate herself before
giving her consent .494
Larry Dwyer was not asked to approve Banneker’s choice of LEAD or its plan to retain
LEAD on a sole source basis. He was shown the May 4 agreement between Banneker and LEAD
during his deposition and asked, “how does that fit with standard practice in a construction
project?” He answered:
491 See Ex. 97, Banneker/Regan consulting agreement.
492 Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan, Regan Associates, LLC (Nov. 12, 2010).
Two other Regan Associates employees, Ray Nix and Bonnie Vancheri, were also present and
participated in the interview.
493 Glover Dep. 128:15-129:17.
494 Id. at 131:20-133:4.
It doesn’t – it doesn’t fit other than in an emergency situation. It doesn’t fit with
what our expectation would have been in terms of how the project manager
would’ve handled the solicitation of third parties.495
But Dwyer’s main concern at that time was protecting DCHE’s interest:
[W]hat I was told was that there was a lot of pressure to get some … some
preliminary work really needed to be done so the project could hit the ground
running, and I just simply said – I didn’t get into the weeds. I just simply said, “I
want you to understand that we’re not liable for any of that activity that takes
place. I understand that you might want to do it. I do it with my own stuff, but we
have no liability financially or otherwise.”496
2. The engineering RFQ
In early June – still before its own contract had been executed – Banneker initiated the
procurement of the design professionals for the parks. On June 2, it published a request for
qualifications (“RFQ”) for architects, seeking design firms for each of the parks.497 On June 3, it
issued a one page RFQ for an engineering firm to provide the civil, survey, geotechnical, and
testing and inspection services for all of the projects.498
The engineering RFQ set out the following requirements:
The Contractors must be able to demonstrate proficiency in working on projects
that require an understanding of local (District of Columbia) and federal
government regulatory processes and knowledge of District of Columbia land
surveying and District of Columbia public facilities.
* * *
495 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6. 2010) 99:22-100:4.
496 Id. at 100:13-21.
497 Ex.139, Request for Qualifications for Architect/Engineering Services, Multiple Capital
Projects at District of Columbia Parks and Recreational Facilities by Banneker Ventures, LLC
(Jun. 2, 2009).
498 Ex. 140, Request for Qualifications for Civil, Geotechnical and Testing and Inspection
Services, Multiple Capital Projects at District of Columbia Parks and Recreational Facilities by
Banneker Ventures, LLC (Jun. 3, 2009).
This RFQ requires the participation of District of Columbia Certified Business
Enterprises (“CBE”) … with a minimum of 51% CBE participation in the
Contractor team. In the selection process, preference points will be considered
based on the Contractor’s certification by the DSLBD.
At minimum, the Qualification package shall include: Contractor’s experience
working with new construction or renovation of public recreation centers, parks or
fields; and resumes of key personnel.499
The CBE requirement in this RFQ is noticeably different from the treatment of CBE
status in the June 2, 2009 RFQ for architects, also prepared by Banneker. The architects RFQ
stated: “This RFQ strongly encourages the participation of [DC CBE]s … with a minimum of
33% CBE participation in the Design Team…”500
Karim could not say who drafted the RFQ or whether he played any role in its creation.
Other than the CBE requirement, he could not identify any other particular credentials he was
Q: Did you discuss with anyone certain things you wanted in the RFQ?
A: I think we had – we made sure that all of our RFQ’s required CBE
participation … I’m not sure what other stuff I might have looked at.501
Other witnesses questioned the manner in which the RFQ handled the issue of CBE
participation. Glover testified that the RFQ appropriately reflected DMPED’s clear policy to
promote the hiring of CBE’s, but she acknowledged that CBE status usually operates as a
preference, through which a contractor would be awarded points in a competitive procurement,
499 Id. (emphasis added).
500 See Ex. 139, RFQ, (emphasis in original). In addition, while the RFQ for architects,
issued on June 2, gave applicants until June 19 to respond, the engineering RFQ called for
responses within 5 days. Banneker extended the time once in an effort to hear from more CBEs,
but even the extended period was 8 days shorter than the response time for the architects.
501 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 162:22-163:5.
not as a prerequisite that would eliminate non-CBE’s from consideration.502 Dwyer was also
unfamiliar with the concept of a 51% CBE “requirement:” “generally … there’s encouragement,
bonus points, and other things…. And certainly that’s a percent that [is] higher than generally
what I’m accustomed to seeing because I think the targets are usually 35.”503
Will Mangrum and Marcos Miranda, project managers for OPEFM, indicated that they
typically require at least some CBE participation, but in their view, merely making an award to a
CBE is not enough. They indicated that 51% participation in a solicitation is supposed to mean
that the CBE will actually be doing 51% of the work and earning 51% of the dollars. They would
expect a project manager issuing such a solicitation to monitor compliance with any requirement
it set out in its RFQ through the imposition of reporting requirements and review of the
David Jannarone explained that it is “not unreasonable for a company that has real
capacity to leverage outside companies to increase the capacity that they have,” and he indicated
that joint ventures and teaming agreements are quite prevalent.505 But he observed that the CBE
program could be abused.
I think one of the historic flaws with the CBE program where a lot of times you
have people who don’t have real capacity – I’m not suggesting that this is that
situation, but – for example, like on a construction project … where you get like a
middle man to supply steel to a project, but he’s not really a steel guy. He’s like a
broker who is a CBE … That’s not the intent of the CBE program, but, you know,
there’s – I’m sure there’s a lot of problems like that.
502 Glover Dep. 135:21-37:3.
503 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 101:11-102:10.
504 Interview with Mangrum and Miranda.
505 Jannarone Dep. 86:19-87:3.
We conscientiously in everything that we’ve done have – have tried to prevent
that from happening. You know … our staff and the program managers are
supposed to be watching to make sure that companies we hire have real
According to witnesses, the engineering RFQ was quite thin. Larry Dwyer testified that
he would have expected a project manager soliciting proposals to evaluate the respondents on
multiple factors, including capacity and price.507 Allen Lew observed that the RFQ should have
had much more in it.508 Mangrum and Miranda were also struck by the lack of substantive
information on the nature and scope of the work, even taking the evolving nature of the projects
into account. They characterized the RFQ as “rather generic” and “not sufficient” to solicit
reasonable proposals in response.509
The original deadline for response to the engineering RFQ was June 8, 2009. On June 8,
Banneker extended the deadline to June 12, 2009.510 According to a memorandum prepared by
Banneker after the investigation began, they extended the deadline “in order to give firms more
time to submit as well as to allow for more CBE participation,” after discovering that of the 10
firms that requested a copy of the RFQ, only two were CBEs.511
The combination of the singular emphasis on CBE participation, coupled with the paucity
of specific requirements other than familiarity with local regulatory practices, gives rise to the
506 Id. at 86:3-19.
507 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 103:9-12.
508 Interview with Allen Lew.
509 Interview with Mangrum and Miranda.
510 Ex. 141, E-mail from Cheo Hurley, Banneker Ventures, to Duane Oates, S. Godley,
Banneker (Jun. 8, 2009 4:57 PM EST).
511 Ex. 142, Memorandum from Duane W. Oates to Larry Dwyer (Nov. 20, 2009).
impression that Banneker prepared an RFQ that was tailor-made for LEAD. In his testimony,
Karim denied that LEAD had any edge in the procurement.512 But even if one takes the RFQ at
face value, it is difficult to understand how it was that LEAD was selected. Beyond its CBE
credentials, LEAD’s proffered qualifications fell far short of even the paltry list of requirements
set out in the RFQ. The RFQ stated: “At minimum, the Qualification package shall include:
Contractor’s experience working with new construction or renovation of public recreation
centers, parks or fields.”513 (emphasis added). While LEAD had been retained to perform testing
and inspection services at Deanwood, it did not list Deanwood or any other public recreation
projects in its response.514 And the response had significant other problems that the investigation
suggests should have been known to, or discovered by, Karim.
3. LEAD’s proposal
LEAD submitted its response to the Banneker RFQ for engineering services on June 11,
2009. The investigation has revealed that the proposal was false and misleading in multiple
512 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 166:4-6.
513 See Ex. 139.
514 See Ex. 121, LEAD response to the RFQ. LEAD’s response identified the following as
“past performance and references for LEAD:” The Jazz at Florida Ave, Washington, D.C.,
described as an “ongoing” project with the nature of the engineering work unspecified; Strand
Theater, Washington, D.C., described as an “ongoing” project, “presently in the design stage,”
for which LEAD would be performing the civil, structural and construction management work;
Congress Heights School Redevelopment, Washington, D.C., for which LEAD “will perform the
civil, structural, and construction management,” and 6425 14th Street, Washington, D.C., an
ongoing project for which “LEAD performed the structural assessment and civil engineering ….
We are currently retained to provide construction code consultations and construction
management.” Banneker would also have been aware that it had previously engaged LEAD to
perform testing and inspection services on Deanwood, but LEAD brought in GC&T for that
assignment. Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan (Apr. 20, 2010); Barrow Dep. (May
20, 2010) 103:9-104:4.
respects, and the referral to the United States Attorney should include a request for a
determination of whether criminal charges should be brought on those grounds.515
The problems with LEAD’s response begin with the cover letter. In his transmittal of
LEAD’s qualifications to Banneker Ventures, Barrow states:
Our company has been in business since 2007. Although we are a newly formed
company, the founders and the professional staff bring 60 to 80 years combined
experience in all areas of civil engineering and design/analysis…516
But LEAD had no “professional staff” and only one of its founders, Barrow, had any significant
professional engineering experience: 15 years, according to his resume.517 Since Barrow left his
government position in March of 2008, the company had not been providing engineering
services since 2007.
The overstatement continues in Section 1 – Professional Qualifications. The proposal sets
out the qualifications of a team to be comprised of LEAD and GC&T, a geotechnical engineering
firm in Woodbridge, Virginia. But the statements that purport to describe LEAD alone bear no
resemblance to the two-man firm:
LEAD is a Washington, DC based company with over twenty full and part-time
technical and non-technical employees. The company is organized as a
Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC), and has been operating since
2007…. LEAD staff has over 60+ years of combined experience in analysis in
civil engineering and condition assessment of various types of facilities.518
515 D.C. Code §22-2405, the criminal false statements statute, covers statements made
directly or indirectly to any instrumentality of the D.C. government.
516 Ex. 121, LEAD response to RFQ.
517 Id. at 5.
518 Id. at 5.
According to LEAD’s response to the RFQ, the services it could provide included geotechnical
engineering, environmental services, civil site development and surveying, construction material
testing and inspection, structural engineering, project management, and third party inspections.
LEAD’s RFQ response includes an expansive organizational chart which depicts a
“business development director” and a “technical operation director” at the top, but also depicts a
host of other personnel including an Administrative Assistant; a Legal Department/Contract
Manager; an Accountant/Chief Marketing Research; an Engineering Services Director; three
project managers; and seven divisions for multiple engineering disciplines.519 The organizational
chart is a work of fiction.
As was called for by the RFQ, the response identifies the key personnel being proposed
by Liberty and GC&T, and it states that the Liberty team will include Barrow; Mounir A.
Abouzakhm, M.S., P.E.; Dawit Zena, P.E.; and Mesfin Madhin, P.E.520 However, besides
Barrow, none of these individuals was actually employed by LEAD at the time. LEAD
reinforced the misimpression by providing resumes that described those individuals as current
LEAD employees with falsified dates of employment.
• Abouzakhm’s resume lists his most recent employment as: “Senior Project Engineer,
Liberty Engineering and Design (LEAD) … May 2008 to Present”;521
• The most recent entry on Zena’s resume is: “Senior Structural Engineer, Liberty
Engineering and Design (LEAD) … May 2008 to Present”;522 and,
519 Id, at 8.
520 Id. at 10-11.
521 Id. at 16.
522 Id. at 19.
• Medhin’s resume identifies him as a LEAD “Senior Mechanical Engineer/Project
Manager … August 2008 to Present.”523
But as of June 11, 2009, when the resumes were transmitted in support of LEAD’s effort to
obtain city dollars, none of these engineers had left their places of employment to work for
According to both Skinner and Barrow, it was Barrow who was responsible for preparing
the response to the Banneker RFQ.524 Skinner testified that he “reviewed it.”525 But neither
LEAD principal could justify the blatant exaggeration and outright falsehoods in their RFQ
523 Id. at 21.
524 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 101:14-18.
525 Joint Roundtable (Apr. 15, 2010) 180:20-181:1; Joint Roundtable (Apr. 28, 2010) 50:7-9,
526 LEAD persisted in misrepresenting itself even after it was retained. Barrow and Skinner
attended a kick off meeting with the Banneker and Regan project managers in the Walker Jones
trailer, and they presented them with a bound notebook of materials that outlined how they
planned to staff the DPR projects. See Ex. 143, copy of LEAD notebook materials. It stated, “our
professional team includes fifteen technical and non-technical staff,” and repeated the claim of
more than 60 years of combined experience. Id. at 3. The presentation included a different
organizational chart, and this one clearly depicted the role that subcontractors such as LSA and
GC&T would play. But for both the civil engineering and the surveying, it identified someone
named Abdurashid Yahia Sheikh-Ali as the LEAD engineer in charge. Id. at 5. No such person
worked at LEAD. The chart also identified Dawit Zena and an Emmanuel Foseh as LEAD team
members in charge of other disciplines when neither was at LEAD then or at any time that
LEAD worked on the projects. Id.
(footnote continued on next page)
Barrow took the position that the reference to LEAD’s 20 “employees” included
subcontractors and consultants,527 and he expressed his view that it was appropriate to identify as
an employee anyone who would ultimately be working on the project under his direction.528
Skinner would not agree that the statement was false, but he could not explain it either. “The
reason why the defense of it, I’m not sure what he was referencing in that. I didn’t write that
particular line, but I’m thinking that he’s referring to the folks that were included in the
Q: And who – what members of your staff had over 60 years of combined
A: Again, I would have to say, I think we were referencing the engineers that we
included in the submission. But I can get back to you with that information.530
Skinner further indulged in LEAD’s penchant for overstatement during his testimony before the
Committee on April 15, 2010. Among other representations, Skinner swore that his firm had
expended more than 29,000 man hours on the DPR projects in the six months between May and
November of 2009. Joint Roundtable (Apr. 15, 2010) 45:13-15; Ex. 144, LEAD information and
material, at 27. That would mean that for each of the 30 weeks that LEAD was engaged, its
employees and subcontractors put in 966 hours per week, which would amount to 24 people
working 40 hours a week each for the entire period. LEAD itself never had more than Barrow
and one or two project managers, Michael Florence or Timothy White, on board. See Joint
Roundtable (Apr. 15, 2010) 220:5-14. And the company has no time records for Barrow or any
527 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 113:5-22.
528 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 121:7-10.
529 Joint Roundtable (Apr. 28, 2010) 50:3-6.
530 Id. at 51:4-9. Skinner did not identify his own experience as part of the calculus, and this
explanation falls short. While adding in the careers of the GC&T principals would have
significantly enhanced the experience of the entire team being proposed, the RFQ did not
represent that LEAD and GC&T together had a certain number of employees or a certain number
of years of experience. It attributed all of that capacity to LEAD alone, and GC&T touted its own
credentials in a different section of the response.
Neither witness could provide much insight into the organizational chart either. Barrow
Q: Well can you just explain to me what this organizational chart is and what it
was designed to convey to the person who received your RFQ response?
A: Any response to an RFQ, there’s some relevant and there’s some irrelevant,
and you can put as much information as possible to respond to the request.531
Skinner was also unfamiliar with what the chart meant to convey, and he testified that he
was not sure who would be filling the various positions depicted in the boxes, such as “legal
department.”532 “I’d say in [the] organizational chart that I’m looking at, the people who were
going to perform those tasks for this project I’m sure were identified, I just don’t know who they
– the particular persons would have been for this particular case.”533 Skinner supposed that in
creating the chart, “when we were referencing these different departments and different staff
members, we were speaking to contractors and subcontractors that would have that capacity.”534
He added, “I think also since they’re functions, that these functions could have been performed
by the same person. … So there might have been some duplication. It might have been more than
one person or it might have been one person doing more than one task.”535
Barrow repeated the duplication theory:
One thing you have to remember, it’s a small company, sometimes I wear
different hats, so I might be in that box one day and I might be in another box one
531 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 117:22-18:5.
532 See Joint Roundtable (Apr. 28, 2010) 62:10-63:22.
533 Id. at 66:16-21.
534 Id. at 63:14-18.
535 Id. at 66:7-10.
day…. [W]hen I made the drawing I know that at any time any service that’s
needed for the company being small I can play that role.536
Skinner was unable to provide any information about the key personnel LEAD proposed
– Abouzakhm, Zena, and Mesfin – beyond the fact that they were “probably” contractors hired to
work on the job.537 Barrow explained that he listed the three because they “might” be members
of the team who would eventually do the work.538 He was untroubled by the fact that the
resumes he submitted specifically identified them as current LEAD employees:
Q: Can you turn to page 16 of Exhibit 14 where Mr. Abouzakhm’s resume begins;
under professional experience where it says senior project engineer, Liberty
Engineering and Design, May 2008 to the present. Was Mr. Abouzakhm a
professional, a senior project engineer at Liberty Engineering from May 2008
to June 2009?
A. I’ll say it again, as I said it before, Mr. Abouzakhm was working as a
consultant and his role was senior engineer who [was] going to have the
second eye on some of the product we produce.
Q: Well directly below that it says, president, Geotechnical Environmental and
Testing, GE&T, August 1988, ’98, to 2007.
Q: Isn’t it true that he was still at [GE&T] in 2008 and 2009 when this document
A: You got to remember, Mr. Abouzakhm, this company GE&T is his own
company, personal company. While I have my own company, you can call me
and say hey, I need your expertise, I need you to come on board to help me out
certain hours, certain days. So it doesn’t mean that he was going to quit his
GE&T, but he’s just come in here on his own time, weekends, after work to
provide anything that’s asked.
Q: Well why didn’t you simply list him as a consultant as opposed to indicating
that he was a senior project engineer at your company from May 2008 to the
536 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 115:10-12.
537 Joint Roundtable (Apr. 28, 2010) 74:6-78:4.
538 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 118:12-19:9.
A: Well, as far as I was concerned and as far as Mr. Mounir was concerned,
anybody, whether he’s a consultant or subcontractor working under direction is
working for the company.539
According to Karim, the RFQ response had the desired effect. “I looked at the RFQ and
these people here have decades and decades and decades of experience.”540 When confronted
during the deposition with the fact that the individuals listed were not actually LEAD employees,
Karim did not express any concern about the way they had been described in their resumes.
A: As I indicated, I believe nothing that they submitted was inaccurate. And
sometimes people even submit people who they’re going to have on projects if
they get awarded it or that type of thing. It’s a common practice in the
construction industry, design industry, architect industry, particularly if it’s a
very very large project where you have to pull resources from different places.
Q: …[W]hen you make representations as to who is going to be on your staff, do
you expect those representations to be accurate?
A: All I can speak to is my firm and the representations we make. If you want to
ask Barrow or whoever completed this RFQ, you gotta ask them about that.541
But no other witness with any connection to government contracting and construction
found it to be an acceptable practice. Duane Oates, a Banneker project manager working for
Karim and the owner of his own construction company, indicated that he would have understood
the Abouzakhm, Zena, and Medhin resumes to be representing that those engineers were
currently employed at LEAD. He was not surprised that an engineering firm might subcontract
out particular specialties and identify those outside contractors as part of the proposal package,
539 Barrow Dep. (May 21, 2010) 119:18-21:10. Barrow testified that Abouzakhm had
provided him with a resume and that he was free to use it in proposals whenever he chose to do
so. Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 121:21-122:1. Abouzakhm confirmed that account. While he
confirmed that he had never been employed at LEAD and that the representation in the resume
included in the RFQ response was false, as far as he was concerned, Barrow was free to present
him in that fashion. Interview with Mounir Abouzakhm, President, GE&T (May 21, 2010).
540 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 173:14-16.
541 Id. at 177:10-178:2.
as LEAD did with GC&T, but he opined that the LEAD key personnel resumes should have been
When Will Mangrum and Marcos Miranda, the OPEFM program managers, were shown
LEAD’s RFQ response, they stated that they would have understood the key personnel resumes
to be representing that the three engineers were in fact LEAD employees. They deemed that
representation to be “important.” They indicated that as program managers in receipt of an RFQ
response, they would “absolutely” want to know if the engineering firm under consideration was
planning to perform the work itself or to outsource it.543
William C. Gridley, the principal of Bowie Gridley Architects, explained that when his
firm puts together a proposal including engineers, it clearly identifies the employment status of
any outside consultants.544 Carlos Ostria and Stephan Goley, engineers with Loiederman Soltesz
Associates (“LSA”), also indicated during their interview that if they were preparing an
engineering proposal, they would attach any subcontractors’ resumes and not represent those
individuals to be employees of LSA.545
542 Interview with Duane Oates.
543 Interview with Mangrum and Miranda. DCHE’s Larry Dwyer did not find it unusual that
the lead firm in a proposal might not have sufficient capacity. He indicated that “usually, people
will create an LLC, and then you’ll get the qualifications of all of the team members who are
party to the LLC.” Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 112:9-11. He did not express an opinion as to
whether it would be appropriate to identify subcontractors as actual employees in a proposal.
“[T]o me, that’s more of a technical question. You know, I, — I wouldn’t necessarily care
whether they were employees or not if an LLC was formed and it had the relevant partners, and
they had the qualifications, you know … I don’t know what was represented or not represented
quite frankly in the proposal because I didn’t see it.” Id. at 112:16-13:2.
544 Interview with Bill Gridley, Bowie Gridley Architects (Oct. 13, 2010).
545 Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley, Engineers, Loiederman Soltesz
Associates (“LSA”) (Jul. 15, 2010).
Karim testified that he did not know the representations were false and that he was
unaware of the size of LEAD’s staff.546 But David Jannarone testified that it was Banneker’s
responsibility as program manager to determine whether the engineering firm it selected had the
necessary capacity.547 In light of the relationships between Skinner and Karim, it is reasonable
to believe that if anyone besides Skinner and Barrow was aware of the false and misleading
nature of the LEAD proposal, it was Karim. Certainly he should have known. If Karim knew
LEAD’s proposal did not accurately describe the firm and its capacity but thought that it didn’t
matter, then he had a fundamental misunderstanding of the role and duties of a program
manager. And if he knew that LEAD’s proposal gave a grossly exaggerated picture of the firm,
that raises the question of whether LEAD’s proposal was intended simply as a cover in the event
the selection of LEAD was later challenged.
In any event, Jannarone also acknowledged that DMPED staff was “supposed to be
watching” to ensure that contractors had “real capacity.”548 The record reflects that DMPED fell
down on that job in this instance, and DCHE neglected its oversight responsibilities as well.549
546 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) at 175:3-17; 176:1-6: 177:10-11.
547 Jannarone Dep. 90:7-15.
548 Id. at 86:16-19.
549 While the record revealed a close relationship between Skinner and Jannarone and a
previous connection between Glover and Banneker, the review of the documents and bank
records produced to date showed no benefit flowing to Glover or Jannarone that would prompt a
criminal referral as to them. While they did not oppose the selection of LEAD, there is no
evidence that they encouraged Banneker to take LEAD on, and there is no evidence that the
Mayor weighed in on the matter in any way.
4. LEAD’s selection based on CBE status
In addition to LEAD, responses to the RFQ were submitted by three more established
firms: Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates, Inc., Charles P. Johnson and Associates, and
Froeling & Robertson, Inc.550 Banneker selected LEAD to receive the engineering contracts for
the DPR projects. Banneker did not interview the respondents, and there was no evidence
produced to indicate that it scored the proposals. Instead, Banneker pointed to LEAD’s CBE
status to justify its selection. Karim testified, “I reviewed the [LEAD] response and thought it
was thorough and addressed the CBE participation that we required.”551 Since none of the other
firms that responded to the RFQ included any CBE participation, according to Karim, LEAD
was the only contractor that was responsive.552
Duane Oates provided some feedback on the responses at the time, and he thought that
the Regan team did as well.553 But the Regan project managers stated that they did not have a
voice in the decision. According to Sean Regan, Banneker and Regan had divided up
responsibility for individual parks and also for certain tasks, and Banneker took responsibility for
all of the civil engineering. It prepared the RFQ. Sean Regan recalled being shown the responses
at a meeting with Karim and Hurley, but the decision to utilize LEAD was made by Banneker
alone. Regan did not recall seeing any formal scoring sheets or tallies,554 and no such documents
550 See Ex. 142, Memorandum from Duane W. Oates to Larry Dwyer; see also Ex. 145,
Response to RFQ from Charles P. Johnson & Associates, Inc., and Information from HillisCarnes Engineering Associates, Inc.
551 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 182:11-17.
552 Id. at 166-67; 166:19-167:2.
553 Interview with Duane Oates.
554 Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan (Nov. 12, 2010).
have been produced by Banneker. The Regans also had no input into negotiating the amounts to
be paid to LEAD under its contracts.555
Neither DMPED nor DCHE weighed in on the question of which engineering firm should
be selected. Glover testified that she directed Banneker to issue the RFQ quickly, and that she
reviewed the document before it went out “and told them it was fine.”556 Jannarone testified that
he had not seen either the RFQ or LEAD’s response prior to his deposition.557 No one at
DMPED participated in the review of the responses; Glover was not provided with a copy of
LEAD’s submission until after the firm had been selected.558 Indeed, it was not until October 28,
556 Glover Dep. 131:3-12; 134:18-19.
557 Jannarone Dep. 77:5-7, 80:9-10.
558 Glover Dep. 138:5-7, 140:2-8. Glover thought she had been given a copy of LEAD’s
proposal, but in all likelihood, what she saw was the notebook LEAD put together for its kick-off
meeting with the project management team. See Ex. 143. She testified:
Glover: I saw their proposal and it had legitimate companies that I was familiar
with working with them so their team was appropriate for what we required.
Q: When you say legitimate companies that you were familiar with, working with
them, who were you referring to?
A: They partnered with LSA and I worked with them on a previous project before
so they had companies that I was familiar with.
Q: And so you didn’t know any – you didn’t really know anything about the
individuals who owned or were employed by Liberty but you were comfortable
because of the other companies they were working with, is that a fair
Glover Dep. 140:19-141:12. However, the proposal LEAD submitted to Banneker to obtain the
subcontract did not mention LSA; the firm was introduced at a kick-off meeting after LEAD was
2009, after the newspaper articles appeared, that Glover asked Karim to send her the scores and
back up for his architect and engineer selections.559
DCHE did not participate in the selection of the engineers, and there were no documents
transmitted at any time from May through October notifying the agency of the decision or
seeking its approval. Documents received by the Committee do include three memoranda dated
November 20, 2009 that purport to be from Duane Oates to Larry Dwyer “recommending” that
LEAD and the architects be engaged. The documents seek belated approval of the selection of
LEAD in May to perform the initial survey and consulting services,560 the procurement of the
architects,561 and the choice of LEAD for all of the engineering work.562 Neither Oates nor
Karim could say why or how the documents came to be created or whether or not they had ever
been transmitted to DCHE.563 Oates did not remember the memos, and he surmised that it was
559 Ex. 146, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) to Omar Karim and Duane Oates (Oct.
28, 2009 11:14 AM); Glover Dep. 201:11-22. Glover testified that she believed that Banneker
ultimately sent her not only LEAD’s proposal but a score sheet evaluating all of the bidders and
tabulating the results, but neither DMPED nor Banneker has produced such a document. Glover
Dep. 202:15-203:18. By the time of her deposition, she could not recall whether or not she had
concluded, based on what she received, that Banneker had a sufficient basis to select LEAD as
the engineer for the projects. Glover Dep. 206:18-207:3.
While Jannarone and Glover had little or no personal involvement in the selection of
LEAD, they took steps to assure the media in January of 2010 that the LEAD engineering
contract had been “competitively bid.” See, e.g., Ex. 147, E-mail from Jacquelyn glover (EOM)
to Sean Madigan (EOM) (Jan. 11, 2010) and related e-mails. In fact, that was not true of LEAD’s
initial survey and consulting contract, and the description hardly applies to the abbreviated
process that led to the four engineering contracts with LEAD.
560 Ex. 148, Memorandum from Duane W. Oates to Larry Dwyer (Nov. 20, 2009).
561 Ex. 149, Memorandum from Duane W. Oates to Larry Dwyer (Nov. 19, 2009).
562 See Ex. 142, Nov. 20, 2009 Memorandum.
563 Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 126:8-127:18; Interview with Duane Oates.
possible that someone else had drafted them to go out under his name.564 Dwyer expressed
genuine surprise when they were shown to him during his deposition, and he was confident that
he had never seen them before.565
After selecting LEAD for the engineering work on the projects, Banneker and LEAD
executed four consulting services agreements: a July 22, 2009 agreement to perform surveys on
10 parks;566 a July 22, 2009 agreement for civil engineering services;567 a July 25, 2009
565 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 10, 2010) 13:18–14:10. It is likely that the memos were created as part
of the effort organized by DMPED in November and December of 2009 to get all of the contract
paperwork in order so that the DPR contracts could be submitted to the Council for retroactive
approval. See Section IX, infra. Jannarone’s to-do list assigned Banneker the action item of
sending “all civil proposals and selection back up” to DMPED and DCHA. Ex. 150. Oates could
only speculate, and he thought that the memos might have been written because it was brought to
Banneker’s attention at that time that DCHE approval had been required. He recalled that they
assembled a huge binder of materials to transmit to DCHA but could not remember if that was in
connection with the Council hearings or in response to earlier requests from DCHA for
supplementary material. Interview with Duane Oates.
566 Ex. 151, Consulting Services Agreement between Banneker Ventures and LEAD, (Jul.
22, 2009) (surveys).
567 See Ex. 82, Consulting Services Agreement (civil engineering).
agreement for geotechnical evaluations;568 and a September 21, 2009 agreement for
environmental site assessments.569
E. LEAD’s Performance and Invoices
Once LEAD was in place, it performed primarily by transmitting the work of others, but
it charged excessive prices that were sanctioned by Banneker. While the referral to the United
States Attorney is necessary to determine whether those circumstances arose out of any
malfeasance or complicity on Karim’s part, our review of the role LEAD played on the projects
and the invoices it submitted has uncovered, at the very least, a pattern of nonfeasance on the
part of both the private and government project managers that resulted in a significant waste of
the taxpayers’ money.570
568 Ex. 152, Consulting Services Agreement between Banneker Ventures and Lead (Jul. 25,
569 Ex. 153, Consulting Services Agreement between Banneker Ventures and Lead (Sep. 21,
2009) (environmental). Each Consulting Services Agreement states in Article 1 that the
Consultant shall provide the services specified in an attached Schedule 1 – Scope of work, and
provides in Article 4 that “Banneker Ventures shall pay Consultant on a time-and-materials basis
as per the attached Schedule 2.” But the schedule 1 for each of these agreements is LEAD’s
proposal to Banneker, and the schedule 2 for each also refers to the proposals, none of which
price the work on a time and materials basis. Rather, each proposal includes a Table A, which is
a spreadsheet breaking out a flat projected fee per park. LEAD submitted no back-up reflecting
how the prices were derived, and the record did not reveal any negotiation with Banneker over
the prices. The Regans were not asked to review the proposals or to weigh in on the fees before
the agreements were consummated.
570 LEAD proposed flat fee prices for the engineering work, and Banneker accepted those
prices and contracted to pay them, so, based on the evidence gathered to date, we cannot
conclude that LEAD’s invoices under those contracts provide grounds for an action against
LEAD for “false” claims under the District’s civil or criminal false claims statutes, D.C. Code
§2-308.14 and §2-308.21, even though the law covers subcontractors’ invoices.
1. LEAD’s role on the projects
LEAD performed little substantive work on the DPR capital projects. Instead, it
subcontracted the vast majority of the work for its four contracts – surveying, civil engineering,
geotechnical engineering, and environmental site assessments – to third parties.
Banneker was on notice from the start that LEAD would not be performing the bulk of
the work. There was a kick-off meeting convened shortly after the engineers had been selected,
at which LEAD presented a chart depicting its staffing. It showed that the civil engineering and
the surveying were going to be performed primarily by LSA and the geotechnical work by
GC&T.571 LEAD introduced an engineer from LSA named Steven Goley to the project managers
at the meeting, and Ernest Njaba of GC&T attended as well.572 It became clear to Sean Regan
that LEAD “was sort of a quarterback,” and that they were subcontracting the actual work out to
LSA and other firms.573
While LEAD secured the contracts by virtue of its status as a CBE, the bulk of the work
and the accompanying fees flowed out of the District to non-CBE firms. None of LEAD’s third
party subcontractors were located in the District of Columbia, let alone were qualified as
571 See Ex. 143, LEAD notebook materials.
572 Njaba Dep. 49:8-11.
573 Regan recalls thinking at the time that he knew who Goley was, and that he was very
relieved to know that there was going to be a decent civil engineer involved. Interview with Sean
Regan and Thomas Regan (Nov. 12, 2010). Duane Oates reported having the same reaction,
stating in the interview that he became comfortable when he learned that LSA was going to be
utilized. Interview with Duane Oates (Nov. 9, 2010). It was LSA that made Jacqui Glover
comfortable as well. Glover Dep. 141:4-12.
CBE’s.574 According to Barrow, the 51% CBE requirement Banneker included in the RFQ
would be met as long as the non-CBE subcontractors doing the job were working under his
direction.575 As noted above, other construction managers disputed this assertion.576 LEAD’s use
574 LEAD subcontracted with the following entities: Loiederman Soltesz Associates, Inc.
(Maryland); Currie and Associates, LLC (Maryland); Accurate Infrastructure Data, Inc.
(Maryland); Anabell Environmental, Inc.(Maryland); Chesapeake Geosciences, Inc. (Maryland);
Environmental Data Resources (Connecticut); GE&T Consultants, Inc. (Maryland); Geomatrix
Drilling, Inc. (Maryland); Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates, Inc. (Maryland); and Insight,
LLC (Virginia). LEAD also hired Ernest Njaba, an employee of GC&T, a company located in
575 Barrow Dep. (May 21, 2010) 134:15-21. Jacqueline Glover also stated that it was not a
problem if all of LEAD’s subcontractors were non-CBE, as long as the company submitting the
invoice was a CBE. But she did not explain why she found that practice to be acceptable. See
Glover Dep. 171:1-19.
576 Interview with Mangrum and Miranda. The Small, Local, and Disadvantaged Business
Enterprise Development and Assistance Act of 2005, effective October 20, 2005 (D.C. Law 16-
33; D.C. Official Code § 2-218.01 et seq.) (the “Act”), governs CBE. Section 2346 of the Act
provides that certain types of contracts for which a CBE is selected as a prime contractor through
Sections 2343 or 2344 must include requirements for the amount of work to be performed by the
CBE itself. Because LEAD was not a prime contractor and therefore Banneker did not procure
LEAD pursuant to Sections 2343 or 2344 of the Act, we cannot conclude that those sections
were violated when LEAD subcontracted out the lion’s share of its work to non-CBE firms.
However, the arrangement undermined the purpose of the CBE preferences that Karim was
purporting to implement. The goals of the Department of Small and Local Business
Development, which administers the CBE program, are to (1) stimulate and expand the local
District of Columbia tax base; (2) increase the number of viable opportunities for District
residents; and (3) extend economic prosperity to local business owners, their employees, and the
communities they serve. D.C. Official Code § 2-18.13(a)(1). When LEAD was selected based on
its CBE status but then directed city funds to firms outside of the District, and when Banneker
took no steps to enforce the stated condition of its own procurement, Banneker and LEAD
frustrated these objectives.
of out of state subcontractors was also inconsistent with the First Source Employment
Agreement it submitted to the D.C. Department of Employment Services on October 29, 2009.577
a. LEAD contracted out the surveying work
Banneker selected LEAD on a sole source basis to launch the projects by surveying the
sites, but LEAD had no licensed surveyor and did not actually perform the survey work. LEAD
was brought on board for this purpose on May 4, and Barrow immediately contacted a licensed
surveyor from Maryland, Anthony Currie.578 Skinner followed up and faxed Currie a list of the
five surveys he was to complete – Kenilworth, Rosedale, Guy Mason, Ft. Stanton, and Parkview
– and he directed Currie to complete the work in 8 days.579 Currie found the proposed schedule
to be unreasonable. He stated in his interview that when he spoke with Skinner and Barrow, he
was surprised to discover how little LEAD understood about the fundamentals of what was
577 Ex. 154, First Source Employment Agreement, Contract No. S/C722-2009, LEAD (Oct.
28, 2009). In the agreement it signed pursuant to D.C. law, LEAD agreed to use DCDOES as its
first source for the recruitment of employees and to require any of its own subcontractors
receiving over $100,000 to sign similar agreements. LEAD imposed no such requirement. When
asked to list its “current employees,” LEAD falsely identified Mounir Abouzakhm, Dawit Zena,
and Mesfin Medhin, and it also listed Timothy White, whom LEAD has identified elsewhere as
an independent contractor, and not an employee. Id.
578 Interview with Anthony Currie, President and CEO, Currie and Associates, LLC (Apr.
22, 2010). Currie explained that he met Barrow in July of 2008, when Barrow informed him that
he was starting a company called Liberty and he was looking for someone who could do survey
work in Maryland and the District of Columbia. After the meeting, Barrow retained Currie to
survey a Banneker project on Thayer Avenue in Silver Spring, MD and 600 Alabama Avenue, in
Southeast, D.C. Later, LEAD hired Currie to survey the Strand Theater site in Northeast D.C.
But LEAD identifies the Alabama Avenue and Strand Theater jobs, as examples of its own
“prior performance” in its response to the Banneker RFQ. See Ex. 121 at 43-44.
579 Ex. 155, Facsimile to Anthony Currie (May 15, 2009 15:07 EST). It is notable that at that
time, neither Fort Stanton or Parkview had been included in the MOU from DPR to DMPED,
DMPED had not yet executed its MOU with DCHA, and DCHE had not yet executed a contract
involved.580 Currie had to explain that the surveys would require several weeks of work. He also
found that he had to question both men about whether certain features of the surveys that LEAD
requested were even necessary for the DPR projects.581
Barrow communicated with Currie to prioritize the work and to convey requests from
project managers or architects to add information to the drawings, but Currie stated that he
completed the surveys – which bear his seal – himself. The documentary record supports his
testimony. Currie’s files contain his original drawings and work product, and there is no
indication in the records provided by LEAD that LEAD added anything to them. Barrow simply
directed Currie to the sites to be surveyed. He also provided Currie with a LEAD title block to be
utilized on the drawings. Currie’s invoices list the steps he performed in connection with each
survey,582 and when the OPEFM project managers were shown the invoices, they indicated that
580 Interview with Anthony Currie.
581 For each site, LEAD asked Currie to provide an “ALTA” (American Land Title
Association) survey, a complex, relatively costly exercise that is generally required when
commercial property is transferred. An ALTA survey provides the lender or the title company
with the detailed legal and title information necessary for the issuance of title insurance.
http://www.landsurveyors.com/resources/definition-of-an-alta-survey; http://www.alta.org. The
LSA engineers retained to survey other parks also expressed surprise that LEAD requested
ALTA surveys on all of the parks. Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley (Jul. 15,
2010). While some of the witnesses indicated that for some individual parks, there may have
been issues of ownership necessitating this type of inquiry, Barrow was unable to explain clearly
why he included that service in his proposals to Banneker in every instance. Barrow Dep. (May
21, 2010) 147:15-149:22.
582 Ex. 156, Letter from Currie and Associates, LLC, to Abdullahi Barrow (May 15, 2009)
(Kenilworth); Ex. 157, Letter from Currie and Associates, LLC, to Abdullahi Barrow (May 15,
2009) (Guy Mason); Ex. 158, Letter from Currie and Associates, LLC, to Abdullahi Barrow
(May 15, 2009) (Rosedale); Ex. 159, Letter from Currie and Associates, LLC, to Abdullahi
Barrow (May 15, 2009) (Parkview), Ex. 160, Letter from Currie and Associates, LLC, to
Abdullahi Barrow (May 15, 2009) (Fort Stanton).
the lists were complete.583 Currie was later hired to survey five more parks: Chevy Chase, Justice
Park, 7th and N, Raymond Recreation Center, and the 10th Street park. LEAD also engaged LSA
to survey Bald Eagle and Barry Farms. Like Currie, the LSA surveyor, stated that Barrow played
no role in completing the work.584
b. LEAD contracted out the civil engineering work
After the RFQ process, Banneker hired LEAD to perform the civil engineering on all of
the projects, but LEAD immediately engaged LSA to do that work as well.585 During his
deposition, Barrow repeatedly stated that he provided “management,” “direction,” and
“coordination” for this engineering work, and he insisted that LEAD thereby added value to what
LSA and Currie provided.586 He also claimed that he had to verify his subcontractors’ work
product, including the surveys.587 He testified that he would go to the project sites and to
583 Interview with Mangrum and Miranda.
584 Interview with Carl Ostria and Steven Goley. The documents gathered during the
investigation confirm the witnesses’ description of LEAD as a mere pass-through. See e.g., Ex.
161, E-mail from Shamika M. Godley to Abdullahi Barrow (Jul. 2, 2009 2:09 PM) scheduling
meeting with environmental regulators on Rosedale (“At a minimum, both myself and your civil
engineer (Carlos Ostria, I believe) need to attend.”); Ex. 162, Email from Abdullahi Barrow to
Anthony Currie (Jul. 14, 2009 6:43:53 PM EDT) (asking Currie to send him responses to
architects’ comments on a survey; Ex. 163, E-mail from Abdullahi Barrow to Steve Goley, P.E.
(LSA) (Jul 30, 2009 12:09 PM EST) (“Please perform the survey operation …”); Ex. 164, E-mail
from Abdullahi Barrow to Steve Goley, P.E. (Aug. 31, 2009 2:22 PM), forwarding architects’
requests for civil engineering specs for Barry Farms and Fort Stanton (“Steve, as requested
below, would you start working on the Civil Spec. Thank you Abdullahi.”); Ex. 165, E-mail
from LEAD project manager Michael Florence to Banneker project manager, Cleo Hurley (Jul
30, 2009) (“The surveyors have finished 7th and N.”); Ex. 166, E-mail from Abdullahi Barrow to
Bonnie Vancheri at Regan Associates (Sep. 3, 2009).
585 See Ex. 82; Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley.
586 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 175:9-12; 176:6-8; 189:15-19; 205:21-206:2.
587 Id. at 91:14–94:4.
government agencies to take measurements and verify information, which would take “days,
sometimes weeks.”588 Yet LEAD produced no documents reflecting this work or any input
Barrow offered, and despite Barrow’s testimony that he regularly recorded the hours he worked
on slips of paper, LEAD informed the Special Counsel through its attorneys that the company
had no such time records.589 Moreover, CORE architects who used a Currie survey observed that
the drawing had errors that should have been corrected if Barrow had actually verified the
The LSA engineers stated that Barrow would obtain information about the scope of work
to be performed and then pass it along to them, giving them free reign to then complete the
engineering tasks. They did not see him on the sites performing any measurements and could not
say that he verified any of their work.591 With respect to the surveys in particular, they indicated
that Barrow played no role beyond asking them to get them done in a timely manner.592
Ultimately, the investigation produced no documentary evidence or witness testimony that
verified Barrow’s account that he participated in or enhanced the quality of the civil engineering
588 Id. at 93:13–94:15.
589 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 29:18-30:13; Ex. 16 at 3.
590 Interview with Dale Stewart.
591 Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley.
or the surveys. Instead, the record revealed, as CORE’s Dale Stewart put it, that LEAD acted as
“just a conduit” passing along other engineers’ work. 593
c. LEAD contracted out much of the geotechnical and
environmental engineering work
Banneker also hired LEAD to complete the geotechnical and environmental
engineering.594 Barrow’s previous experience had been in geotechnical and structural
engineering, 595 and there is evidence that LEAD played a larger role in connection with those
aspects of the engineering for the parks. But LEAD did not do this work alone.
For the parks that required geotechnical analyses, Barrow hired a subcontractor to take
soil borings and submitted the samples to another subcontractor for laboratory testing.596 Barrow
stated that he used the results to write the geotechnical reports himself, and that he paid Ernest
Njaba, an employee of GC&T working on an individual basis in his personal time, to look over
593 Notwithstanding these circumstances, Skinner presented the surveys and civil
engineering drawings during his testimony on April 15, 2010 as examples of LEAD’s
“accomplishments,” and of the work it “completed and coordinated” on the DPR projects. See
594 See Ex. 152, Consulting Services Agreement between Banneker Ventures and LEAD
(geotechnical); Ex. 153, Consulting Services Agreement between Banneker Ventures and LEAD
595 Barrow specialized in geotechnical engineering in graduate school and performed work
related to structural and environmental engineering for the District of Columbia. Barrow Dep.
(May 20, 2010) 5:15-20; 9:12-10:2. Although Barrow claims he does not have a specialty within
the field of civil engineering, several witnesses describe him as specializing in geotechnical or
structural engineering. Njaba Dep. 18:16-20 (stating that Barrow specialized in geotechnical
engineering); Interview with Bonnie Vancheri, Regan Associates, LLC (Nov. 12, 2010)
(describing Barrow as having some competence in geotechnical and structural engineering);
Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley (describing LEAD as specializing in geotechnical
and structural engineering).
596 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 76:1-15; Ex. 167, Geomatrix Drilling, Inc. invoice # 141-09
(Jul. 3, 2009); Ex. 168, Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates, Inc. invoice # 83407 (Aug. 12,
the drafts and provide a second set of eyes.597 Njaba, who described himself as a longtime
personal friend of Barrow’s, confirmed Barrow’s account.598
GC&T, a Virginia company with particular geotechnical expertise, had been identified as
part of LEAD’s team in LEAD’s response to the RFQ.599 But Njaba testified that GC&T was not
asked to perform any geotechnical engineering on the DPR projects, and that he provided input
individually as part of his “consulting business on the side.”600 He indicated that after the soil
boring and lab tests had been completed, his friend Barrow contacted him:
597 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 76:18-21.
598 Njaba Dep. 57:5-7; 69:19-22; 99:22-100:2.
599 Ex. 121.
600 Njaba Dep. 58:2-4. LEAD obtained the DPR engineering contracts based on a proposal
that represented that GC&T would be its partner on the projects, and it was GC&T’s credentials
and experience that added the necessary heft to the response to the RFQ. Njaba attended the kick
off meeting with Banneker, but LEAD did not actually utilize the company to perform any of the
geotechnical work. Njaba testified that he anticipated that GC&T would have been engaged to
handle a more significant portion of the engineering work – the construction materials testing –
had the projects continued. Id. at 58:11-21.
Njaba’s deposition was revealing since the engineer also testified that it was GC&T that had
been solely responsible for the construction materials testing work that LEAD had been hired to
provide for Deanwood:
Njaba: I had a technician present at the site that did all the work. He would write a
field report. He’s going to submit it to our secretaries. They will type it. It’s
going to our field manager. He’s going to review it. Then he’s going to come
to me for my final review and I put my seal and stamp…
Q: And so would Mr. Barrow have a role in actually writing the reports?
A: Writing the field reports?
Q: Yeah, or any of the reports you were writing?
A: No. I mean we are doing the service work and we submit it to Mr. Barrow. Mr.
Barrow is with Liberty Engineering and they are my client.
Njaba Dep. 24:19-25:18; see also 29:8-30:7. So the Deanwood work, which Karim pointed to as
an example of LEAD’s prior experience, see e.g., Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 53:2-4, was not
actually work performed by LEAD at all.
He put together the package and he was looking for my second – he was looking
for a second eye on the project. He was looking for somebody to give him a – to
review their work and in my private time and mostly on weekends, I went to his
office on 18th Avenue. I reviewed the work, suggested any recommendations that
I felt – I felt that was much more appropriate.601
Banneker also entered into a contract with LEAD to perform Environmental Site
Assessments.602 With respect to the environmental engineering, Barrow initially testified that he
had obtained the necessary data and prepared the reports himself, calling upon another
experienced engineer and friend named Mounir Abouzakhm only to review them.603 But the
investigation established that it was Abouzakhm, the owner of Geotechnical Engineering &
Testing Consultants, Inc. (“GE&T”) in Virginia, who was primarily responsible for drafting the
ESA’s. Abouzakhm said that he worked with Barrow to complete the Phase I ESA reports for
Barry Farms, Justice Park, Ft, Stanton, and 10th Street Park. They researched the project sites
together: walking the property and making observations for up to a few hours.604 Based on their
research, Abouzakhm said he wrote reports, which Barrow then reviewed and approved.605
Barrow ultimately conceded at the end of his deposition that it was Abouzakhm who drafted the
Phase I reports in the first instance.606
601 Njaba Dep. 56:15-22.
602 See Ex. 153, Consulting Services Agreement (environmental).
603 See, e.g., Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 209:22–210:3 (“Mr. Mounir played a limited role
as far as just doing a site reconnaissance and also reviewing the report prior to submitting to the
client.”); Id. at 217:6-224:14.
604 Interview with Mounir Abouzakhm; Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 206:8-21.
605 Interview with Mounir Abouzakhm; Ex. 169, GE&T Invoice # 465 (Jan 2, 2010)
(“Performed site reconnaissance and submitted the required report.”).
606 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 226:19-228:21. Earlier, he claimed that nobody really
“wrote” the reports. Id. at 208:2-6.
Justice Park required a more extensive report, known as a Phase II ESA. For that work,
Abouzakhm performed field work and took soil samples to a laboratory for further testing.607
After receiving the laboratory results, Abouzakhm sent the results to Barrow and the two
discussed them.608 Abouzakhm drafted the Phase II ESA report, and worked with Barrow in
d. LEAD used consultants for the “management” function
While Barrow was thus involved in coordinating the surveying and civil engineering
work performed by others, and he collaborated on the geotechnical and environmental
engineering, Skinner, by his own admission, played no role in the engineering aspects of his
business at all. When asked what he did at LEAD, he testified: “I mean, all the non-technical
management functions and trying to coordinate activities, following up with people, look for
deadlines, if necessary, taking out the trash – I mean, with a small business you do everything,
but I am saying as it relates to the engineering work, that’s Abdullahi Barrow.”610 Barrow agreed.
“Well most of the meetings would be held in our office and [Skinner] might be in the office just
stop by and sit down in the office. But mainly he was, if I recall correctly, he was not
participating that much, he would just sit in there if he had the time; most of the time he was
involved in something else.”611 Steven Goley, the LSA engineer who worked extensively on the
607 Interview with Mounir Abouzakhm; Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 207:1-5.
608 Interview with Mounir Abouzakhm.
610 Joint Roundtable (Apr. 15, 2010) 163:11-16.
611 Barrow Dep. (Sep. 30, 2010) 84:14-19.
projects, stated that he had no contact whatsoever with Skinner, and other subcontractors and
project managers provided similar information. 612
Despite the fact that Barrow identified “management” as LEAD’s primary function,
LEAD subcontracted out much of that work to independent contractors as well. The role of
LEAD project manager was filled by Michael Florence and then Tim White, whom LEAD
identified as “1099 independent contractors.” 613 White was not a licensed professional engineer,
and Barrow was not certain whether Florence obtained his license during his time with LEAD or
not.614 The two informed subcontractors of meeting dates, scheduled access to the project sites,
and generally transmitted information to coordinate the projects, but neither performed any
Reviews of LEAD’s performance – even in its limited role – were mixed.615 The e-mail
traffic reveals that the Regan project managers experienced a number of problems with the
612 Interview with Steven Goley and Carlos Ostria; Interview with Anthony Currie
(describing Skinner as having minimal involvement in the DPR capital projects); Interview with
Mounir Abouzakhm (reporting that he never worked with Skinner); Glover Dep. 153:1-2 (“I
never had any contact with Mr. Skinner during the projects.”). The documentary evidence
revealed that Skinner served as little more than an administrative assistant who answered phones
and relayed messages. See e.g., Ex. 170, E-mail from Sinclair Skinner to Abdullahi Barrow and
Timothy White (Oct. 14, 2009 12:58 PM); Ex. 171, E-mail exchange between Sinclair Skinner
and Timothy White (Nov. 18, 2009, 18:13:08 and 6:21 PM).
613 See Ex. 172, “1099 Employees & Subcontractors”; see also Joint Roundtable (Apr. 28,
2010) 16:17-21 (Apr. 28, 2010) (describing White as a 1099 contractor).
614 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 59:1-4 (“Based on the information he provided, he was EIT
[Engineer in Training] and prior to his leaving the company I think he become licensed . . . based
on his information that he told us.”).
615 For example, one project manager from Regan Associates described LEAD as being
competent in some areas but struggling in others, and that they “bit off more than they could
chew” in trying to handle their workload. Interview with Bonnie Vancheri, Regan and
Associates, LLC (Nov. 12, 2010).
materials Barrow was passing along, and that they complained about LEAD’s timeliness and
responsiveness. 616 Indeed, LEAD’s efforts to facilitate the projects often had the opposite
effect.617 Barrow insisted that all communications flow through LEAD, even though the
engineers needed to be able to communicate with the architects directly.618 That request only
slowed communications.619 Ultimately the process of working through LEAD proved “so painful
616 See, e.g., Interview with Bonnie Vancheri (describing several problems with the work
LEAD provided); Interview with Ray Nix, Regan and Associates, LLC (Nov. 12, 2010)
(describing missing information and delays from LEAD after having asked repeatedly for
additional information); Ex. 173, E-mail from Kris Benson, Core Architects, to Shamika Godley,
Banneker Ventures (Jun. 8, 2009, 18:39 EST) (describing various information missing from the
Rosedale survey); Ex. 174, E-mail from Kris Benson, Core Architects, to
RPeterson@amtengineering.com and firstname.lastname@example.org (Jun. 26, 2009, 11:28 AM
EST) (noting that the revised survey “added very little to quell” their initial concerns); Ex. 175,
E-mail from Bonnie Vancheri, Regan Associates, to Michael Florence and Abdullahi Barrow,
Liberty Engineering & Design (Aug. 21, 12:29 PM EST) (requesting long-overdue information
and complaining that the “schedules are being compromised because we are unable to complete
schematic design without this information.”); Ex. 176, E-mail from Bonnie Vancheri, Regan
Associates, to Abdullahi Barrow, Liberty Engineering & Design (Nov. 11, 2009, 16:00 EST) (“It
is now 4pm on Wed of the final day you were to have the long awaited for soils report to us. We
are now way behind schedule. What is the holdup? I have asked repeatedly for a verbal and have
not received any usable information [sic].”). The Regan project management team indicated that
these emails accurately reflected their experience with LEAD. Interview with Sean Regan and
Thomas Regan (Nov. 12, 2010).
617 Interview with Dale Stewart.
618 See, e.g., Ex. 177, E-mail from Abdullahi Barrow, Liberty Engineering & Design, to
Steven Goley, Loiederman Soltesz Associates (Oct. 22, 2009, 11:49 AM EST).
619 Interview with Dale Stewart.
and the response time was so slow” that at least one set of architects brought their complaints to
These are the facts and circumstances that form the backdrop for the analysis of LEAD’s
invoices and of Banneker’s management of its consultants. The record shows that Banneker did
not hire an engineering firm with the experience and capacity to do the work and that it failed to
implement its own stated objective of directing work to local firms. Instead, the private
contractor that was paid a substantial fee to retain and manage qualified engineers and
consultants simply hired another middle man that charged its own fee to retain and manage
qualified engineers and consultants. And Banneker applied its 9% fee to that middle man’s
invoices. The review of LEAD’s invoices and profit margins reveals that the unnecessary layer
of bureaucracy turned out to be particularly wasteful for the D.C. taxpayers in this case.
2. LEAD’s invoices
LEAD reaped significant profits from organizing and transmitting the work of others.
While witnesses with construction expertise acknowledged that it is generally appropriate for
contractors to apply some mark-up to amounts due from subcontractors working under their
auspices – even in a pure pass-through situation – they indicated that an industry-standard fee for
620 Id. Karim deflected all criticism of LEAD by claiming that it was the critics – who were
Regan project managers – and not Barrow, who lacked the experience to understand the issues
with the projects. See Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 95:15-115:3. For instance, he argued that one
Regan Associates project manager, Bonnie Vancheri, questioned LEAD because she was
inexperienced and “didn’t have a clear understanding of what some of the things were.” Karim
Dep. (Sept. 21, 2010) 107:1-2. He also posited that Vancheri was not an engineer. In fact,
Vancheri is a licensed civil engineer. Interview with Bonnie Vancheri.
managing subcontractors would be in the range of 10, or 10 to 15 percent.621 In this case, though,
LEAD charged a markup in excess of 125 percent. The records made available to the Special
Counsel show that LEAD paid approximately $422,600 to its subcontractors,622 but it billed
Banneker approximately $969,000.00.623 Even if one assumes that the firm was entitled to some
fee for its management and direction of others, and that Barrow performed some substantive
engineering work in certain of the areas, LEAD’s fees – which Banneker never questioned –
were not justified. 624
621 Sean Regan, from Regan Associates, described ten percent as a typical markup for
management of subcontractors, and doubted that anyone would opine that the industry standard
could exceed 20 percent. Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan (Nov. 12, 2010). Jacqui
Glover and the LSA engineers said that the mark-up would typically range from 10 to 15
percent. Glover Dep. 163:15; Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley.
622 LEAD claims to have paid its subcontractors and “1099” independent contractors a total
of $422,603.11 for work on the DPR capital projects. See Ex.172. Since the records provided to
the Special Counsel were incomplete, it was not possible to definitively account for the exact
amount LEAD was charged by subcontractors, or what it ultimately paid its subcontractors for
their work on the DPR capital projects. For example, LEAD claims to have paid $11,799.16 to
Tim White, an independent contractor who served as a project manager. But LEAD did not
produce documentary evidence to support that claim, such as invoices or payroll receipts.
LEAD’s bank records verify that LEAD in fact paid White, but those checks do not match the
amount LEAD claims it paid him for the DPR capital projects in particular. For purposes of
calculating LEAD’s markup and profits, however, we found that LEAD’s claimed payouts to be
an adequate approximation of what it paid subcontractors for the DPR capital projects.
623 See Ex. 2, showing invoices Nos. #1-9 submitted by Banneker to DCHE.
624 Barrow claimed that LEAD’s profit margin percentage was only “between 6 to 15, some
of them 20, a few of them 20.” Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 97:21-98:2. This claim is simply
not credible in light of the documentary record, which reflects that LEAD had limited overhead
and expenses. Since LEAD’s project managers were independent contractors, their salaries are
already accounted for in the $422,000 total for payouts to subcontractors. Few supplies were
needed since others were doing the testing and engineering drawings. There are no grounds to
believe that LEAD’s expenses were high enough to decrease its profit margin from 129 to 20
percent. It is notable that as soon as OPEFM got involved in the projects, it immediately sought
to reduce the high fees going to the civil engineers. See Ex.178, E-mail from Sean Lewis to
Timothy White (Feb. 18, 2010 11:11 AM).
a. Consulting and surveying services
After LEAD was engaged to conduct the surveys, it promptly solicited a proposal from
Currie. Skinner pressed him to lower his prices, and LEAD hired him on May 15 to complete
five surveys at $8,000 each.625 Within weeks, LEAD began invoicing Banneker for the surveys
Currie produced, but at vastly higher prices than Currie charged. For example, Currie charged
LEAD $8,000 for the boundary and topographical survey for the Rosedale site on June 9,
2009.626 LEAD also hired a contractor, Insight LLC, to locate underground utilities at the site,
and it paid $3,800 for that component of the survey.627 Although LEAD thus paid a total of
$11,800 to its subcontractors, and it added little or nothing to the process itself, it charged
Banneker $48,500 for the Rosedale site survey: a 411% markup.628
LEAD’s invoice to Banneker included no back-up substantiating its costs. But Banneker
transmitted the LEAD invoice to DMPED as part of its May invoice on June 10, applying its 9%
markup to LEAD’s fee. Banneker accepted the price for the Rosedale survey even though it had
access to information that could have provided another measure of how the work should be
priced: the architects for the project – CORE – had proposed to use a different engineering firm
625 Interview with Anthony Currie; See Ex.160, (Fort Stanton); Ex. 157, (Guy Mason); Ex.
179, Letter from Anthony Currie, Currie and Associates, to Abdullahi Barrow (May 15, 2009)
(Kenilworth); Ex. 159, (Parkview); Ex. 158 (Rosedale). See also Ex. 155.
626 Ex. 180, Letter from Anthony Currie, Currie and Associates, to Abdullahi Barrow (Jun.
9, 2009) (charging $8,000 for Rosedale survey).
627 Ex. 181, Insight LLC invoice # 2009250 (Jul. 5, 2009).
628 Ex. 182, LEAD invoice # S529-2009 (May 29, 2009). Interestingly, LEAD’s invoice to
Banneker is dated weeks before the dates of the invoices from its subcontractors. Thus, it appears
as if LEAD may have charged Banneker the full cost of the surveying services before they were
completed, or at least, before LEAD was out of pocket for them.
that proposed to complete the boundary and topographic survey for only $19,000.629 Banneker’s
May invoice also included LEAD’s bills for the Guy Mason and Parkview surveys. Currie had
completed them for $8,000 each, and LEAD charged $49,200 and $46,800.630
Similarly, on the Kenilworth project, Currie charged $8,000 for survey drawings on June
24, 2009,631 and LEAD paid Insight LLC $2,800 to designate utilities on the site.632 These two
charges, worth $10,800, were LEAD’s only third-party costs for surveying the Kenilworth
project. Yet on June 26, 2009, LEAD charged Banneker $47,000 for the Kenilworth site survey –
a $36,200, or 335%, surcharge over what LEAD had paid its subcontractors.633 Banneker
included LEAD’s invoices in its June bill to DMPED.634
629 Ex. 183, Letter from Michael Wiercinski, A. Morton Thomas and Associates, Inc., to
Dale Stewart, Core Architects (May 13, 2009).
630 The invoices thus establish that as of early June, DMPED was on notice that LEAD had
been hired to provide the surveys before Banneker’s contract was executed, and that it was
charging fees that should have caught the project manager’s attention. The record also reflects
that DCHE was provided with copies of the invoices by June 24, 2009 at the latest. See Ex. 184,
E-mail from Omar A. Karim to Asmara Habte (Jun. 24, 2009 3:21 PM).
631 Ex. 185, Letter from Anthony Currie, Currie and Associates, to Abdullahi Barrow (Jun.
24, 2009) (charging $8,000 for Kenilworth survey).
632 Ex. 186, Insight LLC invoice # 2009251 (Jul. 5, 2009).
633 Ex. 187, LEAD invoice # S62-2009 (Jun. 26, 2009). The Fort Stanton project is yet
another example of LEAD’s billing practices. LEAD paid Currie $8,000 for the survey and
A/I/Data $8,466 for utility designation. LEAD then charged Banneker $49,600 for the survey.
Ex. 188, Letter from Anthony Currie, Currie and Associates, to Abdullahi Barrow, Liberty
Engineering & Design (Jun. 24, 2009); Ex. 189, Accurate Infrastructure Data, Inc. invoice #1085
(Sep. 2, 2009); Ex. 190, LEAD invoice #S63-2009. Once again, it appears as though LEAD
charged Banneker its lump sum fee for the survey in advance of receiving its subcontractors’
634 Ex. 191, Letter from Omar A. Karim to Jacquelyn Glover (Jun. 26, 2009).
Banneker’s acceptance of the May and June LEAD invoices is even more troubling
because at the time LEAD submitted them, and Banneker passed them on to DMPED, Banneker
and LEAD had not yet executed a contract establishing a price for the surveys. The original May
4 arrangement with LEAD capped the fees for consulting services at $2,500 per park, but it did
not specify prices for the surveys.635 And there is no evidence that Banneker negotiated with
LEAD over the prices for the surveys at any time before LEAD submitted its invoices. The
parties did not agree to prices for the surveys in writing until July 22, 2009, and by that point,
LEAD had already billed for five surveys, and Banneker had already applied its 9% markup and
passed the invoices along. 636
The formal consulting contract for surveying between Banneker and LEAD covered
surveys on ten projects,637 several of which LEAD had already hired Currie to produce. But
LEAD decided to enlist more help in completing the surveys because it did not think Currie’s
small operation could handle all of its needs.638
635 See 76, May 4, 2009 letter of intent to contract with LEAD.
636 Karim claimed to have had a large team of lawyers and staff negotiating the contracts, but
could not specifically say whether Banneker negotiated with LEAD over the prices for the
surveys or not. Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 67:18-68:3 (“I didn’t negotiate all of these projects.
We had a ton of different lawyers involved negotiating a lot of the terms of different contracts.
So we probably had, you know, over a dozen different people working on to make sure that the
District got the fairest services and fees for the work that it did that are – that vendors who
performed for the contract.”). But neither LEAD nor Banneker produced a single document
reflecting communication concerning the prices for surveys prior to the execution of the July 22,
2010 contract. And we have seen no documentation of negotiations over the terms of that
637 See Ex. 151, Consulting Agreement (surveys).
638 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 90:2-8.
LEAD contacted LSA and solicited a proposal for its surveying services.639 On July 21,
2009, LSA submitted a proposal to LEAD for six of the ten DPR projects. LSA did not submit
proposals for the remaining projects because it was told that other surveying firms had already
been selected on those projects.640 LSA’s proposal included a chart, titled “Table A,” in which
LSA set out how it calculated the pricing for each site. 641 The next day, LEAD submitted its own
proposal to Banneker for the surveys. LEAD’s proposal also included a “Table A” of prices,
which appeared to copy the Table A template from LSA’s proposal. Both tables included the
exact same seven categories of services that LSA proposed to provide within the field of
“Boundary and Topographical Surveying Services.”642 But the two tables differed in one critical
respect: LEAD significantly increased the prices on every line item.643
For example, LSA proposed to perform surveying services for LEAD at Chevy Chase for
a total of $17,780. This included:
639 Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley.
640 Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley.
641 Ex. 192, Letter from Loiederman Soltesz Associates, Inc. (LSA) to Abdullahi Barrow,
LEAD (Jul. 21, 2009) submitting LSA proposal, including Table A.
642 Those categories were: “Boundary Survey, Including computations”; “ALTA Survey,
Including Description”; “Legal Description”; “Field Run Topography of Site”; “Record Plat”;
“Monument Property Corners (Survey to Mark by Subconsultant)”; and “Subdivision Plan.”
643 Aside from the price, virtually everything about the table, including its formatting and
punctuation, demonstrates that it was a wholesale copy of LSA’s proposal. When confronted
with the fact that LEAD’s proposal to Banneker used the identical table as the one produced by
LSA, albeit with higher prices, Barrow claimed that it was a standard table used in the industry.
Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 167:9-168:1; 180:19-181:3. Like other aspects of Barrow’s
testimony, this simply was not credible. The LSA engineers explained that the table was not
standard in the industry, and that it took between a few days and one week to create it. Interview
with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley. Barrow’s inability to clearly explain the components of the
chart also supported our conclusion that he did not develop it.
$5,940 for “Boundary Survey, Including computations,”
$1,500 for “Legal Description,” and
$10,340 for “Field Run Topography of Site.”644
LSA did not include prices for any of the remaining four categories. LEAD’s proposal to
Banneker the following day offered to perform the same services at Chevy Chase, but for a total
$43,000. LEAD’s Table A included:
$16,600 for “Boundary Survey, Including computations,”
$6,300 for “Legal Description,” and
$15,400 for the “Field Run Topography of Site.”
LEAD also proposed to charge $4,500 for a “Subdivision Plan.”645 In short, LEAD simply
copied LSA’s proposal for surveying services but marked up the prices drastically.646
Despite LEAD’s inflated prices and the availability of other firms to produce the surveys
at much lower rates, Banneker agreed to LEAD’s July 22 proposal and signed a contract
incorporating it on the very same day. The total price for surveying services on the ten parks was
to be $451,900.647
Even if one accepts LEAD’s contention that since Currie was a surveyor, but not a civil
engineer, Barrow needed to add something before Currie’s work could be transmitted to
Banneker (a contention that could not be substantiated), we find that LSA’s proposals provide
644 Ex. 192.
645 Ex. 151, Table A.
646 And in the end, LEAD retained Currie, not LSA, to do the survey at Chevy Chase for a
mere $5500. See Ex. 193, Invoice from Currie and Associates, L.L.C., to LEAD (Aug. 10, 2009)
(Chevy Chase Park).
647 Ex. 151, Table A. A project manager from Regan Associates recalls thinking that the
proposed survey prices were high when she finally saw Table A, but Banneker had assumed
responsibility for procuring those services so Regan did not have an opportunity to raise
objections to the contract before it was signed. Interview with Bonnie Vancheri.
one potential gauge of what Banneker should have been paying for the civil engineering and the
surveying on the projects. LSA is a full service, fully credentialed engineering firm, it provided
both surveying and civil engineering expertise, and its prices incorporated its costs, its overhead,
and an appropriate profit. Yet for the six parks that LSA proposed to survey for $150,210,648
LEAD told Banneker that it would charge $235,400649 – a difference of over $14,000 per survey
– for work that LSA was going to perform, and Banneker accepted the proposal with no
LEAD hired LSA to perform surveying services for two of the projects, Bald Eagle and
Barry Farms. For Bald Eagle, LSA charged LEAD $8,250 for the “field run topography” of the
site on September 4, 2009.650 No other subcontractors performed surveying services for the
project, nor is there any evidence that anyone from LEAD contributed to the survey. But on
September 27, 2009, LEAD charged Banneker $43,250 – more than 5 times its cost – for
surveying services on Bald Eagle.651
Similarly, LSA charged LEAD $12,540 for the “field run topography” of the Barry
Farms site on September 4, 2009.652 LEAD also hired A/I/Data for utility designating, surveying,
and mapping, and A/I/Data charged $11,000 for those services.653 Those two charges, worth
648 See Ex. 192.
649 See Ex. 151, Table A.
650 Ex. 194, LSA invoice # 0077276.
651 Ex. 195, LEAD invoice # S922-2009.
652 Ex. 196, LSA invoice # 0077277.
653 Ex. 197, A/I/Data invoice #1114.
$23,540, were the only third-party invoices for surveying services on the Barry Farms project.
Yet LEAD billed Banneker $47,000 – double its costs – for the same services.654
For the remaining projects, LEAD relied on Currie. In addition to the five original
surveys, LEAD used Currie to produce surveys on five other sites at prices ranging from $3,000
to $8,000.655 LEAD also hired third-parties to locate utilities on the properties.656 As with the
other projects, LEAD then drastically marked up its prices in its invoices to Banneker.657 Neither
654 Ex. 198, LEAD invoice # S923-2009.
655 Those projects were Chevy Chase, Justice Park, 7th & N Park, 10th Street Park, and
Raymond. See Ex. 193, Letter from Anthony Currie, Currie and Associates, to Abdullahi
Barrow, Aug. 10, 2009 (Chevy Chase surveying for $5,500); Ex. 199, Invoice from Anthony
Currie, Currie and Associates, to Abdullahi Barrow (Aug. 10, 2009) (Justice Park surveying for
$4,500); Ex. 200, Letter from Anthony Currie, Currie and Associates, to Abdullahi Barrow (July
24, 2009) (7th and N Park surveying for $4,500); Ex. 201, Letter from Anthony Currie, Currie
and Associates, to Abdullahi Barrow (May 15, 2009) (10th Street Park surveying for $3,500); Ex.
202, Letter from Anthony Currie, Currie and Associates, to Abdullahi Barrow (Sep. 29, 2009)
(Raymond surveying for $6,000). As previously described, LEAD provided Currie with incorrect
information for the Justice Park project, so that Currie had to produce a new survey. Currie
charged $4,500 for the initial survey, but only charged $3,000 for that second survey. Ex. 203,
Letter from Anthony Currie, Currie and Associates, to Abdullahi Barrow (Aug. 27, 2009)
(Justice Park surveying for $3,000).
656 See, e.g., Ex. 204, A/I/Data invoice # 1084 (Sep. 2, 2009) ($3,864 for 10th Street Park);
Ex. 205, A/I/Data invoice # 1074 ($3,720 for 7th and N Park).
657 See, e.g., Ex. 206, LEAD invoice # S/C722L-2009-1 (Oct. 15, 2009) ($39,000 for
Raymond survey); Ex. 207, LEAD invoice # S732-2009 (Jul. 31, 2009) ($29,100 for Justice Park
survey); Ex. 208, LEAD invoice # C927D-20009-1 (Sep. 27, 2009) ($16,600 for “additional”
Justice Park survey).
Barrow, Skinner, nor Karim could provide a credible justification for LEAD’s profit margin on
LEAD even charged Banneker and the government for its own mistakes. On one
occasion, Barrow gave Currie incorrect information about the location of a project, so Currie
surveyed the wrong property.659 LEAD nevertheless invoiced Banneker $29,100 for that survey,
for which it paid $4500. Currie was directed to complete a second survey for the proper site for a
$3000 fee, but LEAD charged Banneker another $16,600. While Karim was informed of
LEAD’s mistake and the need to order a second survey on August 20,660 Banneker included
second Justice Park bill in its September invoice and applied the 9% mark-up as it had in July,
658 Karim adamantly denied that LEAD profited as much on the projects as the record
suggests, arguing that there are “all types of services” that are included in LEAD’s costs. Karim
Dep. (Sept. 21, 2010) 89:6-17. But when asked for specifics, Karim could only speculate: “I
know that my staff met with them on a regular basis throughout the project and spent significant
hours with…a significant number of their staff to handle the surveys. So if they had three people
over there who spent just five hours a week meeting at, let’s say, at $200 rate, 200 times three is
… $600 time five hours. That’s 3,000. If they did that for ten weeks, that’s $30,000 right then,
and I know they were doing something.” Karim Dep. (Sept. 21, 2010) 90:11-22.
Nothing in the record supports Karim’s arithmetic. LEAD never had more than Barrow and one
or two project managers working on the projects at any given time, and it was billing for the
surveys on a flat fee, and not an hourly basis. Even if it had charged by the hour, the hourly rates
set out in LEAD’s own proposal were well less than $200 per hour – a LEAD project manager
attending meetings would have been billing at $130 an hour. See Ex. 82. Karim’s argument also
fails to take account of the fact that it didn’t take three people five hours a week for 10 weeks to
meet concerning any one particular survey – LEAD billed well over $30,000 for three surveys in
May alone and for two in June.
659 Interview with Anthony Currie. Barrow had shown Banneker an aerial photograph of the
site, based on its understanding of its location. After Banneker did not comment, LEAD had
Currie produce the survey, but it ultimately proved to be the wrong location. Ex. 206A, E-mail
from Abdullahi Barrow, Liberty Engineering & Design to Shamika Godley, Banneker Ventures
(Aug. 20, 2009, 15:49 EST).
660 Id. Karim has described this as a reasonable mistake, since the property across the street
from the site to be surveyed was also called Justice Park, which required no credit to the District.
without explaining the duplication or offering the city any sort of credit for LEAD’s error. We
received no documents reflecting that DMPED asked any questions.661
LEAD’s fees included components that were never adequately explained. For several
projects, LEAD offered to provide a “record plat” or “subdivision plan” for thousands of dollars
each. Barrow defined a record plat as a “plat of a survey that might exist in the surveyor’s office
that will show the land area. . . .”662 A subdivision plan is a similar document and is related to a
record plat.663 Record plats and subdivision plans are kept on file with the Office of the Surveyor
and can be purchased for a modest fee.664 Even though it is not clear whether any of these
661 Interview with Anthony Currie; Ex. 207, LEAD invoice # S732-2009 (charging Banneker
$29,100 for a site survey); Ex. 208, LEAD invoice # C927D-20009-1 (charging Banneker
$16,600 for an “additional survey”). By contrast, Currie only charged $4,500 for the initial
survey, and $3,000 for the second survey. Ex. 199, (Aug. 10, 2009) (Justice Park survey); Ex.
203, (second Justice Park survey).
662 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 152:15-17. Skinner described a record plat as “just the thing
you go down the surveyor’s office. They give you a plat. It just lays out your land, you’re lots,
each square.” Joint Roundtable (Apr. 28, 2010) 104:9-11.
663 Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley.
664 Interview with Anthony Currie; Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley; Karim
Dep. (Sept. 21, 2010) 100:4-5 (“Sometimes you can go down to the D.C. Surveyor’s Office and
Karim did not know whether or not a record plat can be obtained from anywhere else besides the
surveyor’s office. Karim Dep. (Sept. 21, 2010) 100:6-9. We were told that in certain instances a
record plat can be created from scratch. Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan;
Interview with Bonnie Vancheri; Interview with Ray Nix. If that is true, we recognize that a
record plat would cost significantly more than the administrative fee paid to the Office of the
Surveyor. Here, however, the record indicates that the documents were simply purchased from
the Office of the Surveyor and nothing suggests they were created anew. In its own proposal to
LEAD, LSA offered to provide a record plat for Bald Eagle for $2,500 and for Fort Stanton for
$3,500. In its proposal to Banneker, LEAD offered to provide the same services for $3,500 each.
The record is not clear as to whether LSA’s proposal contemplated a new record plat or simply
purchasing the document from the Office of the Surveyor.
documents were necessary for the DPR capital projects,665 and although they can typically be
purchased for a small fee,666 LEAD proposed to provide those records for several thousand
For example, on the Justice Park project, LEAD proposed in its Table A to provide a
“subdivision plan” for $3,000 and a “record plat” for $2,500.667 But according to the Office of
the Surveyor, on July 28, 2009 a “subdivision plat” was purchased for just $196.668 Similarly,
LEAD offered to provide a “record plat” of Guy Mason for $5,900,669 but on August 6, 2009,
LEAD’s project manager purchased a record plat for only $30, and a subdivision plat for Guy
Mason was purchased from the Office of the Surveyor for $196 on July 28, 2009.670 LEAD also
included “record plat” in its price for Parkview at a cost of $6,100.671 But on August 6, 2009,
LEAD’s project manager paid $30 for a “building plat” from the Office of the Surveyor.672
665 Regan Associates questioned why those fees were necessary but never received a
satisfactory response. Interview with Bonnie Vancheri.
666 The District of Columbia Office of the Surveyor lists its prices at the following website:
667 See Ex. 151, Table A.
668 Interview with Mr. Reed, District of Columbia Office of the Surveyor, by telephone (Apr.
669 See Ex. 151, Table A.
670 Interview with D.C. Office of the Surveyor.
671 Ex. 151, Table A.
672 Interview with D.C. Office of the Surveyor.
For Fort Stanton, LEAD offered to provide a “record plat” for $3,500 and a “subdivision plan”
for $3,500. But he Office of the Surveyor could not find any transactions related to that property.
For Bald Eagle, LEAD offered to provide a “record plat” for $3,500 and a “subdivision plan” for
$4,500. The Office of the Surveyor was unable to locate information related to that project
without further information about the site.
Barrow claimed that LEAD had to “take that information and also go to the site and verify that
record plat reflects what’s on site at the present time that we’re doing the survey.”673 Barrow’s
claim of performing any additional work related to the record plat was not convincing, but even
if he devoted some time to verification, the record does not demonstrate that he added sufficient
value to justify the thousands of dollars charged.
LEAD’s May 4 agreement with Banneker also provided that LEAD would perform
“consulting services” for ten parks. LEAD was to be paid a maximum of $2,500 per park for
those services, which the contract did not define.674 LEAD ultimately billed Banneker for that
work, describing it in its invoices only as “study and consulting phase.”675 When asked what
services LEAD provided, Barrow said that they were “going to do a site visit, do an analysis and
develop and inform [Banneker] what kind of specific services is needed for each park because
each park was different.”676 He also said that the contract was to “develop specific scope of
engineering service that needed for each project.”677 Yet LEAD provided no evidence of any
work product that it created as part of its $25,000 fees for consulting. Barrow claims there was
no written product, but that he communicated verbally “almost daily” with Banneker to tell them
673 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 152:19-22. When confronted with the fact that LEAD
charged far more for the record plat than it paid, Skinner did not know what justified the
significant disparity in prices. Joint Roundtable (Apr. 28, 2010) 110:5-11.
674 See Ex. 76.
675 See, e.g., Ex. 187, LEAD invoice # S62-2009 (Kenilworth); LEAD invoice # S63-2009
676 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 79:20-80:1.
677 Id. at 80:12-14.
what work was needed on each project.678 While we cannot conclude that LEAD performed no
consulting work, there was little evidence that substantiated or explained the consulting fees.
b. Civil engineering services
To fulfill its civil engineering contract, LEAD followed the same pattern of
subcontracting the work to LSA and charging an inflated fee. As it had done for surveying
services, in July 2009, LEAD a solicited proposal from LSA.679 In its July 21 proposal, LSA
provided a table of prices for each category of civil engineering services, which it labeled “Table
A.”680 And just as it had done with the surveying proposal, LEAD turned around and used LSA’s
template for the “Table A” in its proposal, listing all 27 categories just as LSA had proposed. But
once again, LEAD proposed prices for the work that far exceeded the standard mark-up for
managing a subcontractor. Banneker accepted LEAD’s inflated proposal on July 22.681
678 Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 85:3-14. With respect to the initial consulting and surveying
services contract, Karim describes hiring LEAD to “do some limited consulting services and
some survey services, because we needed somebody to come on board once we found out the
depth of – well, it took awhile to find out really all of the scopes but once we found out how
much was involved and the time tables behind it, you can’t just go get an architect, find him and
have him build a rec center on a 20 acre site without knowing where the site [was] going to be,
who got soil issues and that type of things. So we brought them on in the early limited
engagement for that, I think, no more than $2,500 a site for the consulting services and then to do
limited survey services on an as need[ed] basis for some of the projects that were . . . done early
on.” Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 148:22-149:14.
679 Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley.
680 Ex. 192, LSA proposal. LSA’s proposed “Table A” included both surveying services and
civil engineering services. LEAD simply copied the formatting and categories of that table but
split it into two separate tables, one for surveying and one for civil engineering.
681 Ex. 209, Consulting Services Agreement between Banneker and LEAD (Jul. 22, 2009)
For instance, on the Fort Stanton project, LSA submitted an invoice to LEAD for civil
engineering services on November 25, 2009 for a total of $11,364.91.682 Five days later, LEAD
submitted an invoice for the exact same services, but charged Banneker $17,905.00.683 LSA’s
charges included $4,020 for construction drawings services and $6,130 for design drawings. For
those same services, LEAD billed Banneker $6,450 and $9,195, respectively. LEAD also marked
up reimbursable costs, such as mileage and parking, by far more than 10 to 15 percent.684
LEAD’s handling of one of LSA’s civil engineering functions, the “due diligence
investigations,” was a stark example of how it marked up its subcontractors’ invoices without
adding any value. LSA engineers described “due diligence investigations” as written reports
designed to answer the questions of whether what the owner was requesting could be built on the
site.685 As LSA’s work progressed, it would charge LEAD a percentage of the total fee for that
service, representing the latest portion of the investigation it had performed to date. But the LSA
engineers explained that they would not provide a written report to LEAD until it was complete.
According to LSA, until the written report had been transmitted, there was nothing for LEAD to
682 Ex. 210, LSA invoice # 0078249 (Nov. 25, 2009).
683 Ex. 211, LEAD invoice # C1130G-2009 (Nov. 30, 2009). While it is possible that LEAD
added charges for its own attendance at the listed meetings, nothing in the record suggests that
these were anything more than markups on others’ costs. For further examples of LEAD’s
invoicing practices, compare Ex. 212, LSA invoice # 0077980 (Oct. 30, 2009) (charging $5,810
for Chevy Chase Park), with Ex. 213, LEAD invoice # C1125B-2009 (Nov. 25, 2009) (charging
$12,750 for Chevy Chase Park).
684 Compare Ex. 214, LSA invoice # 0077658 (Oct. 1, 2009) (charging $23.65 for
“mileage/parking”), with Ex. 215, LEAD invoice # C1033B-2009-2 (Oct. 23, 2009) (charging
$60 for “delivery/Mileage,” a markup of 253%). Although it is possible that LEAD was
including its own reimbursable costs in this line item, the record as a whole suggests that this
was nothing more than a markup of its subcontractor’s costs.
685 Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley.
revise, or to which it could add value. 686 Nevertheless, LEAD repeatedly marked up LSA’s fees
for partially completed due diligence investigations.
For example, in its September 4, 2009 invoice to LEAD, LSA charged $1,000 for its
work to that point on the Bald Eagle due diligence investigation. The invoice noted that the total
fee would be $4,000, but the investigation was only 25 percent complete – thus the charge of
$1,000.687 According to the LSA engineers, they had not produced any work product to LEAD at
this point because they had not completed their report.688 But on September 27, 2009, LEAD
invoiced Banneker $2,050 for “due diligence investigation.”689
For the Raymond Recreation Center, LSA invoiced LEAD $2,437.50 on November 25,
2009 for a due diligence investigation that was 75 percent complete.690 Five days later, LEAD
submitted an invoice to Banneker that charged $4,875 for due diligence on that project.691 LEAD
simply doubled LSA’s fees – from $2,437.50 to $4,875 – without having received a completed
686 Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley.
687 Ex. 194.
688 Interview with Carlos Ostria and Steven Goley.
689 Ex. 216, LEAD invoice # C927A-20-009-01.
690 Ex. 217, LSA invoice # 0078252 (Nov. 25, 2009).
691 Ex. 218, LEAD invoice # C1130L-2009 (Nov. 30, 2009).
report and without having added any value. The witnesses could provide no explanation for this
c. Geotechnical engineering
As noted above, LEAD’s response to the RFQ for the DPR capital projects identified
Geotechnical Consulting & Testing (“GC&T) as its partner on the projects. Yet when it was time
to perform the work, LEAD did not use GC&T’s services. Instead, Barrow hired one of GC&T’s
employees, Ernest Njaba, who was also his friend, on an individual basis.693 Barrow paid Njaba
$500 to $1,000 to review each of Barrow’s geotechnical engineering reports on his “private
time,” and did not involve GC&T in the work.694
Njaba’s testimony provided evidence that Barrow played a role in the geotechnical
engineering, but LEAD’s profits were notable nonetheless. On the Kenilworth project, for
example, LEAD hired Geomatrix Drilling, Inc. for $1,600 and paid Hillis-Carnes Engineering
692 When asked explicitly about this discrepancy, Barrow gave vague answers that did not
persuade us that LEAD performed additional work. “Due diligence investigation is just looking
into the – what needs – what’s happening on – on the site, especially what kind of utility
information, how we’re going to bring in to the waterline, how we’re going to bring it to the
sewer line. All this stuff I’m responsible.” Barrow Dep. (May 20, 2010) 205:5-10. It is unclear
how this work was any different from the “consulting” for which LEAD charged $2500 per park.
When asked why LEAD billed $3,000 to Banneker for due diligence when LSA was only 20
percent complete, Barrow replied that LSA “is not the only company who was working on this
project, we were doing a part of the due diligence and we also provided some information, sent
them information so they might, their part, they’re 20 percent of this thing, but we probably went
farther than that, so that’s what that reflects.”). Barrow Dep. (Sep. 30, 2010) 65:20-66:3.
693 Njaba Dep. 69:13-22.
694 Njaba Dep. 72:2-10; see Ex. 219, check from Liberty Engineering & Design to Ernest
Njaba, Sept. 18, 2009 ($2,000 payment for Rosedale and Kenilworth), check from Liberty
Engineering & Design to Ernest Njaba, Sept. 18, 2009 ($500 payment for Parkview). With
respect to a payment for $2,500 from LEAD to Njaba, Njaba could not recall which projects
were related to the payment, but believed it was payment for two projects. Njaba Dep. 73:16-
Associates, Inc. $556 for laboratory tests.695 Barrow also paid Njaba $1,000 to review his
report.696 Although LEAD’s third-party costs thus totaled $3,156, it charged Banneker $22,500
for geotechnical engineering on Kenilworth alone.697 Even Barrow’s friend Njaba, who
specializes in geotechnical work, observed during his deposition that if those were LEAD’s
costs, its price for the Kenilworth geotechnical engineering was “really inflated.”698 Even if
Barrow wrote the report himself, there is little in the record to justify this 713 percent increase.699
The Rosedale project is another example. LEAD paid Geomatrix Drilling, Inc. $2,806 to
drill soil samples, which Njaba described as “the most expensive items in geotechnical
investigation.”700 It paid Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates, Inc., $568 for laboratory testing
of those samples.701 And it paid Njaba $1,000 to review the report.702 Those costs totaled $4,374,
but LEAD charged Banneker $14,640 for the geotechnical work on Rosedale.703 Even if Barrow
695 See Ex. 168, Hillis-Carnes invoice # 83407.
696 See Ex. 219, check from Liberty Engineering & Design to Ernest Njaba (Sep. 18, 2009)
($2,000 payment for Rosedale and Kenilworth).
697 Ex. 220, LEAD invoice # S735-2009 (Jul.31, 2009); Ex. 221, LEAD invoice # G920-
2009 (Sep. 27, 2009).
698 Njaba Dep. 89:21.
699 Njaba estimated that it would have taken Barrow approximately 12 hours to complete the
geotechnical reports that he reviewed. Njaba Dep. 86:6-12. So even if Barrow drafted it himself
and charged by the hour at the $180 rate specified in LEAD’s July 25, 2009 geotechnical
engineering proposal, the fee for drafting the report would have been in the range of $2160.00.
700 Ex. 222, Geomatrix Drilling, Inc. invoice # 148-09 (Aug. 19, 2009); Njaba Dep. 78:14-
701 Ex. 223, Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates, Inc. invoice #83874 (Aug. 31, 2009).
702 See Ex. 219, check from Liberty Engineering & Design to Ernest Njaba (Sep. 18, 2009)
($2,000 payment for Rosedale and Kenilworth).
703 Ex. 224, LEAD invoice # G921-2009 (Sep. 27, 2009).
prepared the first draft of the geotechnical reports, the evidence suggests that the prices LEAD
charged and Banneker accepted were excessive.704
d. Environmental Site Assessments
Barrow hired his friend Mounir Abouzakhm, owner of Geotechnical Engineering &
Testing Consultants, Inc. (“GE&T”), to work with him to produce the ESA reports.705 LEAD
paid GE&T between $500 and $1,000 per project for its Phase I ESA work on Barry Farms,
Justice Park, Fort Stanton, and 10th Street Park.706 LEAD paid GE&T another $1,000 for the
Justice Park Phase II ESA. 707
Even if one gives Barrow credit for his collaboration with Abouzakhm in walking the
sites and forming conclusions, his mark-ups of the GE&T invoices were remarkable. On Justice
Park, for instance, LEAD paid out a total of $2,825 to its subcontractors to perform
704 Karim approved LEAD’s substantial fees for geotechnical engineering without consulting
his teaming partner, even though the parks fell within the scope of Regan’s responsibilities. On
October 27, 2009, after she had received an executive summary of the Fort Stanton geotechnical
report, Bonnie Vancheri emailed Skinner, Barrow, Karim and others at LEAD and Banneker to
express frustration about the failure to keep her apprised. “[A]s project manager, one of my roles
is to keep control of the budget. As requested several times, please send me the proposal to do
the geotechnical for Ft. Stanton, Barry Farms, and Parkview. With the tight budgets, it is
imperative that we keep track of all costs. And that we get all due diligence work completely in a
timely manner so that the pricing is as accurate as can be.” Ex. 225, E-mail from Bonnie
Vancheri to Timothy White, Cc to Sean Regan, Tom Maslin, Duane W. Oates, Omar A. Karim,
Sinclair Skinner, Abdullahi Barrow (Oct. 27, 2009 7:33 PM).
705 Interview with Mounir Abouzakhm.
706 Ex. 226, GE&T Consultants Inc. invoice Nos. 463-467. Abouzakhm noted that his prices
can be cheaper than other companies because he has no overhead costs. Interview with Mounir
707 Ex. 227, GE&T invoice # 462 ($1,000).
environmental work.708 Yet LEAD invoiced Banneker $15,300 for the same work – a 542
F. Management and Oversight of LEAD
The Special Counsel’s review of LEAD’s invoices to Banneker and Banneker’s invoices
to DMPED uncovered, at the very least, poor management on the part of Banneker as well as the
several District agencies responsible for the projects.
As the project manager that hired LEAD, Banneker was primarily responsible for
ensuring that the District obtained the best price and value for LEAD’s services.710 Indeed, it was
Banneker’s job to provide “the most efficient allocation of available funds to achieve the desired
improvements” of all the projects.711 But Banneker apparently accepted LEAD’s inflated prices
without questioning how much it would actually cost LEAD to provide those services. Karim
claimed that Banneker did not ask LEAD for supporting documents from its subcontractors
because such a request is not within the industry standard.712 That explanation is unconvincing in
708 Ex. 228, Environmental Data Resources, Inc. invoice # 2582880 ($425); Ex. 229, Anabell
Environmental Inc. invoice # 6356 ($3,600); see Ex. 226, invoice #463 ($500); Ex. 227.
709 Ex. 230, LEAD invoice # C1022D-2009-3 (Oct. 23, 2009).
710 Although Regan Associates handled the program management duties for half of the
projects, Banneker handled all of the invoicing. Interview with Bonnie Vancheri; Glover Dep.
153:2-3 (“I think the only difference was Banneker handled the issuing of invoices and any
711 See Ex. 80, July 14, 2009 Contract: Scopes of Work, General Notes.
712 Karim Dep. 84:12-15 (Sep. 21, 2010) (“That’s not an industry standard. It doesn’t
happen like that. We worked – we worked on a lot of projects in my time doing this type of
work, and that just doesn’t happen.”). Interview with Asmara Habte (confirming that LEAD’s
invoices did not have supporting documents for subcontractors).
light of other witnesses’ testimony, including other project managers involved in the DPR capital
Banneker’s contractual right to mark up LEAD’s costs gave it an incentive to turn a blind
eye to LEAD’s billing practices. Whether Banneker accepted LEAD’s invoices because it
wanted to maximize its own markup or simply failed to notice that the invoices were inflated, the
evidence reflects a failure of management.
Although Banneker was responsible as the project manager for overseeing LEAD, several
District government agencies were also accountable for overseeing the projects, and they share
responsibility for the deficiencies in the management of the engineers. DMPED took over
management control of the projects from DPR, and retained that control when it contracted with
DCHE.714 DMPED’s own project manager for the DPR capital project, Jacqueline Glover, was
the primary point of contact between Banneker and the District. She did not participate in the
713 Glover Dep. 159:6-13; Interview with Asmara Habte. Thomas Regan, a principal of
Regan Associates with several decades of experience in program management, said that he
would expect the subcontractor to be identified to the client. Interview with Sean Regan and
Thomas Regan (Nov. 12, 2010). Dale Stewart said he generally expects to show his client his
subcontractors’ bills, although there are some clients that do not want to see them. Interview with
714 Ex. 231, Memorandum of Understanding Between the District of Columbia Department
of Parks and Recreation and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic
Development (Feb. 27, 2009); Ex. 232, Memorandum of Understanding Between the Office of
the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the District of Columbia
Housing Authority (Jul. 31, 2009).
initial negotiation of LEAD’s prices,715 and had “limited” direct contact with LEAD.716 She
instead communicated any instructions for the engineers through the project managers.717
One key aspect of Glover’s job was to approve the monthly invoices submitted by
Banneker. Glover stated that she would check to be sure the project manager had provided the
“appropriate backup,” which she described as the invoices from Banneker’s contractors.718 She
would then talk with the Banneker project manager to verify that the contractors’ work was
actually performed.719 Once satisfied by Banneker, Glover would relay her approval to DCHE,
which served as the pay agent for the projects and would pay Banneker for its invoices.720 She
approved and passed along all of Banneker’s invoices even though she concluded after the first
two that the invoices were “very very high.”721
Glover testified that when a contractor uses a subcontractor to perform some of the work,
the contractor typically includes the subcontractors’ bills when it submits its own invoices.722 For
the DPR capital projects specifically, Glover said she was aware that LEAD had subcontracted
out some of its work, but she could not recall which engineering services in particular were
715 Glover Dep. 208:2.
716 Id. at 153:17-19.
717 Id. at 153:17-19.
718 Id. at 157:13-19.
719 Id. at 158:12-14.
720 Interview with Asmara Habte.
721 See Ex. 105; Glover Dep. 161:9-20.
722 Glover Dep. 159:6-13.
involved.723 She noted that it would have been helpful in her review of LEAD’s invoices if she
had received the subcontractors’ invoices as well.724 Yet she did not ask for backup
substantiating LEAD’s costs at the time, and she approved the invoices for payment by
Because Glover did not request that information – even though she was on notice from
the first kick-off meeting that LEAD would be relying heavily on subcontractors – she was
unaware of the prices LEAD had paid its subcontractors.726 Glover acknowledged in her
deposition that had she been aware of LEAD’s actual costs, she would have been concerned
723 Glover Dep. 159:19-160:1.
724 Glover Dep. 163:16-164:1.
725 Glover Dep. 159:21-160:1. Glover’s own description of her level of oversight was
unspecific and underwhelming.
Q: …Did you ever have a conversation with anyone from Banneker Ventures
about the amount of Liberty Engineering’s fee that it was charging for its
A: I believe I questioned them about it and asked them to provide more
information about what they were doing.
* * *
Q: And when you asked for more information, what did they give you?
A: They provided something, I’m not sure exactly and we also met with them,
met with LEAD.
Glover Dep. 144:22-145:6, 145:11-14. Glover met with Skinner and Barrow to become
comfortable but she had no recollection of what they said to ease her concerns. See Glover Dep.
147:18-148:16. She testified that she found the $48,500 price for a survey of Rosedale Park to be
high, but she couldn’t quite recall what led her to accept it. “I talked with Banneker about the
price and what it was for. … I can’t recall exactly what was discussed, but obviously they
provided enough justification for me to go ahead and approve the invoice.” Glover Dep. 161:19-
162:3. When asked whether she was concerned that the architects’ invoices included a
percentage of completion but LEAD’s did not, she responded, “I’m sure I probably asked
Banneker about that and whatever answer they provided I’m assuming was satisfactory.” Glover
726 Glover Dep. 162:15-163:4.
about LEAD’s prices.727 She explained, though, that she viewed it as Banneker’s responsibility
to ensure that LEAD’s invoices were sufficient because it was Banneker that had hired LEAD.728
DCHE also had a role in administering the contracts and serving as the pay agent and
budget administrators for the DPR capital projects.729 DCHE’s project manager for the DPR
capital projects, Asmara Habte, was responsible for reviewing the invoices submitted by
Banneker.730 Habte and other DCHE staff reviewed the invoices to make sure they were
complete, mathematically correct, and accompanied by any required documentation.731 They
were charged with comparing the invoices to the budgets that DMPED and Banneker had
provided. But DCHE did not question whether the District was paying too much for particular
services, or whether any contractors had actually subcontracted any work to others. Instead,
727 Glover Dep. 162:15-163:4.
728 Id. at 239:8-19.
729 See Ex. 232, MOU between DMPED and DCHA (Jul. 31, 2009).
730 Habte explained that DCHE was not responsible for deciding whether reprogrammings
were necessary, which would involve reviewing whether appropriated funds were spent in the
proper year and for the proper project. Instead, as budget administrators, DCHE would monitor
the budget prepared by DMPED and Banneker and, if funding was nearly depleted for a project,
DCHE would inform DMPED and ask DMPED what they wanted to do about it. Interview with
731 Interview with Asmara Habte. During the investigation, some Council members asked
about notations – “SS” – that were handwritten across several invoices submitted to DCHE from
Banneker. They asked if Sinclair Skinner – “SS” – had a role in approving Banneker’s invoices,
even though he did not work for Banneker or DCHE. When Skinner testified on April 15, he was
firm that the initials were not in his handwriting and that he had not signed off on the invoices.
Joint Roundtable (Apr. 15, 2010) 223:18-225:20. Asmara Habte later cleared up the mystery
when she identified “SS” as a notation used by DCHE staff to signify that an invoice was
“superseded” by a subsequent, updated invoice. Interview with Asmara Habte.
DCHE viewed that as DMPED’s responsibility, and relied on DMPED’s approval of the invoices
to indicate that it was satisfied that the work was completed and billed at an appropriate price.732
Like Glover, Habte said that she would have expected to see LEAD’s subcontractors’
invoices as part of Banneker’s submission if LEAD did not perform the work itself. She expected
such information because DCHE’s other contractors provide such supporting documentation
when they hire subcontractors. Habte explained that those records would enable her to judge
whether LEAD’s mark-up was reasonable.733 But DCHE never received – and it did not ask for –
that backup, and it did not object to LEAD’s inflated prices.
In sum, the many layers of project management – provided by DMPED, DCHE, and
Banneker – confused and obscured responsibilities for the DPR capital projects. DCHE relied on
DMPED to ensure that the contractors were actually providing the services for which they
submitted invoices to DCHE. When DCHE raised questions about Banneker’s invoices,
Banneker would say that they had been approved by DMPED and that Banneker’s bills were
appropriate.734 DMPED, in turn, relied on Banneker to verify that its contractors were providing
value for their services. What no one did, unfortunately, was call upon Banneker to justify
LEAD’s role in the DPR capital projects or to substantiate its costs. Had anyone done so, they
732 Interview with Asmara Habte; Dwyer Dep.123:12-126:12.
733 Interview with Asmara Habte.
734 See e.g. Ex. 233, E-mail from Asmara Habte to Omar Karim and Carol Rajaram (Jul. 15,
2009 12:13:27 PM EST) and reply E-mail from Omar Karim to Asmara Habte and Carol
Rajaram (Jul. 15, 2009 12:28 PM EST) Habte requests supporting documentation for the
$100,000 requested for “advance payments and related costs” in invoice #1. Id. Karim replies
that the advance is for permits and related fees to agencies and states, “DMPED agreed with this
approach and amount.” Id. DCHE paid the invoice.
would have quickly found that LEAD added virtually no value to the projects and wasted tens of
thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds.
VIII. AWARD OF THE CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS
After the architects and engineers had been hired, another of the program manager’s key
functions was to procure the general contractors who would be responsible for the actual
construction. Banneker took the lead role in this process, notwithstanding the fact that the
Regans were supposed to share the project management function, and they were assigned
responsibility for half of the parks. The selection process overseen by Banneker resulted in the
recommendation of several firms with financial ties to Omar Karim and/or Sinclair Skinner: Blue
Skye Construction, AF Development, Capital Construction, and District Development Group.
Since those ties have not yet been adequately explained, this is another aspect of the inquiry that
should be referred to the United States Attorney for further investigation.735
The July 20, 2009 Regan Associates consulting contract with Banneker provided that
Regan would “play the lead role for half of the projects,” and it was contemplated that those
parks would include Parkview, Guy Mason, Chevy Chase, Fort Stanton, and Barry Farms.736 The
contract also indicates that Regan’s services shall include: “working with Banneker to prepare
735 There were questions raised in the fall of 2009 about the selection of RBK Construction,
a company owned by Keith Lomax, to perform the work at two playgrounds, one as a joint
venture partner with Forrester Construction and one alone. The investigation has not uncovered
ties between RBK and any member of the selection panel that lead us to recommend a referral of
that decision, but the award of the smaller solo job – Chevy Chase – raises questions about the
decision to award the contract to RBK when another small contractor received a higher overall
score. See Ex. 234, Request for Proposals, Construction Services, DPR Capital Projects –
DMPED Project Management Services, Interview/RFP Proposal Comparison Sheet.
736 Ex. 97, Regan/Banneker Letter Agreement.
and issued an RFQ for construction services” and “working with Banneker to evaluate bids and
Banneker issued its request for qualifications for general contractors for the parks on July
20, 2009.738 The Regan team had provided some comments on a draft, some of which were
incorporated into what went out and some of which were not. The solicitation indicated that
based upon the responses, the project manager would develop a short list of contractors to be
interviewed. Responses were originally due on July 31, but the date was extended until August
5.739 In the meantime, Sean Regan informed Duane Oates that the Regan team would be doing its
own solicitations for the parks under its management at a later date.740
So according to Sean Regan, he was surprised when he was informed that the responses
were arriving and were available to be reviewed. He reminded Karim that he had requested that
the Regan project managers conduct their own solicitations for the parks under their
management. On August 4, Regan sent Jannarone and Karim an e-mail reiterating that his team
planned to manage the procurement of the general contractors for Parkview, Guy Mason, Chevy
738 Ex. 235, Request for Qualifications – Construction Services, Multiple Capital Projects at
District of Columbia Parks and Recreational Facilities (Jul. 20, 2009).
739 Ex. 236, RFQ/RFP for Construction Services, DPR Capital Projects,
Qualifications/Proposals Received Log.
740 Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan (Nov. 12, 2010).
Chase, and Fort Stanton separately.741 Regan proposed to select a contractor through the
Banneker process for Barry Farms only.742
Banneker went on to evaluate and score the 58 RFQ responses on its own anyway,743 and
it made the determination of which contractors would be invited to submit proposals for all of the
parks without reviewing its decisions with the Regan project managers.744
On August 12, the contractors deemed most qualified by Banneker were invited to submit
proposals for large projects (construction of approximately 20,000 GSF new recreation
center),745 for medium projects (renovation of 10,000 GSF recreation center),746 or for small
741 Ex. 237, E-mail from Sean Regan to David Jannarone, Cc to Duane Oates, Omar Karim,
Thomas M. Maslin (Aug. 4, 2009 12:45 PM).
742 One of the Regan Project Managers, Bonnie Vancheri, did look over the responses, and
she created a spreadsheet organizing data about the respondents’ level of experience, etc., which
she transmitted to Banneker. Vancheri did not use any sort of numerical rating system. The
Regans do not know whether or how the observations she submitted were incorporated into
Banneker’s scoring, if at all.
743 Ex. 238, Request for Qualifications for Construction Services, DPR Capital Projects,
Initial Response Evaluation and Scoring Sheet (Aug. 5, 2009).
744 The companies with ties to Karim – Blue Skye Construction and AF Development –
came out on top. Within the large projects, the Coakley/Blue Skye joint venture topped the list,
receiving 94 out of a maximum 100 points, tied with Sigal/AF Development/F&L. Forrester
Construction came in 4th with 87 points. In the medium category, Blue Skye was again tied for
first, this time with Hamel Builders/District Development Group, both with a score of 88. RBK
ranked third in the medium category with a score of 84. Id.
745 Ex. 239, Request for Proposals – Construction Services, Multiple Capital Projects at
District of Columbia Parks and Recreational Facilities (Aug. 12, 2009) (“approx. 20,000 GSF”).
746 Ex. 240, Request for Proposals – Construction Services, Multiple Capital Projects at
District of Columbia Parks and Recreational Facilities (Aug. 12, 2009) (“10,000 GSF
projects (hardscape and field renovation).747 Some contractors were considered for more than
one category. The requests for proposals indicated that interviews with the selection committee
would follow the review of the fee proposals, and the interviews were conducted on August 24,
2009. Seven companies or joint venture teams were rated for large projects, three for medium
projects, and two for small projects.748
While DMPED was paying DCHE for its assistance with the DPR capital projects, and
while DCHE would ultimately be the party that entered into the contracts with the general
contractors, the interview sheets indicate that no one from DCHA or DCHE participated in the
selection process. The panel included Jacqui Glover, Latrena Owens, and Bernard Guzman from
DMPED; David Janifer from DPR; Omar Karim, Duane Oates, and Shayla Taylor from
Banneker; and Bonnie Vancheri and occasionally Sean Regan from Regan Associates. Based on
the written score sheets, it appears that not everyone in the group was present for every
interview.749 Banneker collected the score sheets, but there was no discussion among the group
as to which contractor should be awarded which park. Banneker made that decision on its own or
in consultation with DMPED after the interviews, and the Regans were not provided with an
opportunity to weigh in on that.750
747 Ex. 241, Request for Proposals – Construction Services, Multiple Capital Projects at
District of Columbia Parks and Recreational Facilities (Aug. 12, 2009) (“Hardscape and Field
748 See Ex. 234.
749 Ex. 242, General Contractor Interview Evaluations, Multiple Capital Projects at District
of Columbia Parks and Recreational Facilities (Aug. 24, 2009).
750 Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan (Nov. 12, 2010).
On August 31, Banneker informed the bidders of its intent to award the following
• Rosedale Recreation Center — $12,091,000: Blue Skye/Coakley Williams joint venture752
• Barry Farms — $10,360,000: Forrester Construction Company/RBK Construction joint
• Fort Stanton Community Center — $7,775,000: Winmar Construction/Dustin
Construction joint venture
• Justice Park — $7,775,000: Winmar Construction/Capitol Construction
• Kenilworth Recreation Center – $7,651,250: Forney Enterprises, Inc.
• Raymond Recreation Center — $7,598,750: AF Development/Sigal Construction Corp.
• Bald Eagle Recreation Center — $3,341,250: Blue Skye Construction
• Chevy Chase Playground — $1,879,250: RBK Construction
• Parkview Recreational Field — $660,000: Forney Enterprises Inc.
• Guy Mason Recreational Center – (amount unknown) District Development Group,
LLC/Hamel Builders, Inc. joint venture.753
751 Banneker notified Regan Associates of its choices by email, and Sean Regan recalls
being relieved that the large projects under his management had been awarded to teams including
well-established construction firms. Banneker mailed out letters notifying the contractors of its
intent to award them contracts on August 31, and it submitted a memorandum to DCHE
informing it of those “recommendations” on September 7, 2009. Ex. 243, Memorandum from
Duane W. Oates, Banneker Ventures, to Lawrence Dwyer, DC Housing Enterprises (Sep. 7,
2009). The investigation did not reach the question of whether or not these companies ultimately
received contracts once the projects were moved to OPEFM.
752 On October 20, 2009, Banneker also issued a notice to proceed to Blue Skye
Construction LLC for the construction of Rosedale.
753 Ex. 244, Letters from Duane W. Oates to contractors regarding “Notification of
Award”/Construction Services (Aug. 31, 2009); see Ex. 245, “Pending DPR General Contracting
Services Contracts,” for contract amounts. RBK was evaluated as part of a team with Forrester
for large projects and alone for small projects. All of the ratings for the Forrester/RBP team were
generally high, although Vancheri rated RBK and Forrester separately, and it was Forrester that
(footnote continued on next page)
Separate from this process, Banneker also awarded a $146,000 contract to Capital Construction
to renovate Gibbs elementary school, which was going to house the Rosedale Recreation Center
activities while the Center was being demolished and rebuilt.754
The investigation has revealed certain financial ties between Omar Karim, whose
company was managing the competitive procurement, and some of the successful bidders, and it
has also revealed ties between some bidders and Sinclair Skinner:
• In 2008 and 2009, Blue Skye paid Karim’s sole proprietorship, Liberty Law
Group, over $50,000. Blue Skye made a payment of over $10,000 just eight days
before it submitted its August 19, 2009 response to Banneker’s RFP.755
• AF Development, which was selected as part of the team to build the $7.6 million
Raymond Recreation Center, was also one of Karim’s clients, and it paid $53,500
to Liberty Law Group between October of 2008 and November of 2009, including
$10,500 on March 12, 2009 (memo says “Jan Feb Mar); $3500 on April 3, 2009;
got the high score. RBK alone was evaluated by Guzman, Owens, Oates, Taylor, Karim, Glover,
Vancheri, and Sean Regan. The Regan and Vancheri ratings were considerably lower than the
others. In the end, four of the seven contractors scored higher than Forrester/RBK – which
received a score of 78.1 out of 100 points. See Ex. 234. The large contractors who scored higher
– Blue Skye/Coakley (92 points), Dustin/Winmar (87.7 points), FEI Construction (85.2 points),
and Signal/AF/F&L (78.3 points) all received notices of intended awards as well, but it is unclear
why Forrester/RBK was selected for the second largest project instead of other contracting teams
that scored higher.
For the medium projects, RBK received a score of 75.8, with its proposal and interview
receiving only 8 out of 20 possible points. All of the other medium and small contractors scored
higher — Blue Skye, Hamel/DDG, FEI, and HRGM. All but HRGM, which also scored higher
than Hamel/DDG, received notices. There is nothing in the record that would explain Banneker’s
selection of RBK over HRGM; while some of the interviewers raised questions about HRGM’s
community involvement, those assessments were reflected in the scoring and HRGM received a
higher overall score than RBK.
754 Ex. 246, Proposal from Capital Construction, Inc., to Banneker Ventures, LLC (Jul. 29,
755 Ex. 247, Check # 1196 from Blue Skye Development LLC account to Liberty Law Group
(Aug. 11, 2009) ($10,500).
and $7500 on July 1, 2009 (“May, June, Aug”). Monthly payments of
$2500 payments were made from August through November of 2009.756
• Capital Construction, which was awarded Justice Park in a team with Winmar
Construction, and was also selected to handle the renovation of Gibbs Elementary
School, paid Skinner’s Liberty Industries $54,500 between August of 2008 and
March of 2010, including $10,000 on September 10 of 2009. The memo lines on
the checks describe them as loan reimbursements.757
• District Development Group, a successful bidder teamed with Hamel Brothers on
Guy Mason, made payments totaling $9000 to Liberty Industries between July
and December of 2008.758 While several of the interview sheets from their August
24, 2009 presentation commented on the fact that the companies had worked
together only once before,759 Karim wrote on his evaluation: “Experienced
working together for 20 years!”760
Karim did not disclose his financial ties to the general contractors to either his joint
venture partner or to city officials. Thomas Regan observed during his interview, “it would give
me heartburn,” if one of the bidders had been paying Karim a consulting fee to improve its
responses to solicitations.761 Even Duane Oates, one of the Banneker project managers, observed
756 Ex. 248, Check #’s 3079, 3099, 3217, 3259, 3274, 3302, 3323, from AF Development,
LLC, payable to the Liberty Law Group.
757 Ex. 249, Check #’s 1210, 1239, 1286, 160, 5107 from Capital Construction Enterprises
Inc. payable to the Liberty Industries, LLC (“reimbursement of loan”).
758 Ex. 250. District Development lists 3215 Martin Luther King Avenue, S.E. as its address
on its proposal; this is one of the addresses also used by Skinner in LEAD’s October 2008 and
September 2009 applications with the D.C. Small Business Administration for upgraded
certification as a CBE.
759 See, e.g., Ex. 251, General Contractor Interview Evaluation of Hamel/DDG by Jacqui
Glover (“Old Congress Heights school only project worked on together”) and Ex. 252 General
Contractor Interview Evaluation of Hamel/DDG by B. Guzman (“as a JV [illegible], not very
760 Ex. 253, General Contractor Interview Evaluation of Hamel/DDG by Omar Karim.
761 Interview with Sean Regan and Thomas Regan (Nov. 12, 2010).
that in his eyes, such financial relationships would have constituted a conflict of interest, and that
the information would have made a difference to him in making his recommendations.762
As noted previously, during his deposition in August of 2010, Karim took the position
that payments made to Liberty Law Group fell outside the scope of the Special Counsel’s
investigation and he declined to answer any questions about the firm.763 The Superior Court
rejected his contention and on September 17, 2010, ordered Karim to answer questions about
these matters. But his testimony was unhelpful, to say the least.
Q: Well, but Liberty Law Group was providing community consulting services.
What did it do in the nature of community consulting services?
A: Whatever was asked of us.
Q: Well, did you meet with anybody as part of community consulting services.
A: You have to be more specific about that.
Q: Did you ever meet with any – … Do you recall ever meeting with anyone as
part of providing community consulting services?
A: Like whom are you referring to?
A: I’m sure I met with people over the last three years.764
Karim professed to be unable to recall who he met with or whether he prepared invoices,
and he did not recall that he generated any written work product.765 While he firmly maintained
that that the payments he received from his consulting clients had nothing to do with their
obtaining government contracts or contracts related to the DPR projects, he could provide no
information about what the money was for and offered nothing that would explain why Liberty
762 Interview with Duane Oates (Nov. 9, 2010).
763 Karim Dep. (Aug. 5, 2010) 47:20-48:18.
764 Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 38:1-38:15.
765 Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 174:20-177:16.
Law Group was receiving payments from Blue Skye at the very time that Banneker Ventures
was considering Blue Skye’s proposal and recommending that it receive two contracts.
Q: What did the Liberty Law Group do for Blue Skye Construction?
MR. BOLDEN [Counsel for Karim]: I’ll allow him to answer subject to the
attorney client privilege. …
A: I believe they’re consulting work.
Q: What sort of consulting work?
A: Whatever consulting they asked us to do, but I do know it had nothing to do
with DPR capital projects nor any city contracts or public contracts or any of
those types of things. And we have been doing consulting for them for two
years, you know, prior to, you know, us even getting involved with any DPR
Capital projects, and it wasn’t for anything related to the DPR capital projects
at or any other government project. That’s not – we don’t do government
Q: Who did you speak with at Blue Skye Construction about performing
consulting services for Blue Skye?
A: I don’t recall.
Q: Well, how many individuals do you know at Blue Skye Construction?
A: They’ve got a lot of people over there.
Q: I understand they may have a lot of people over there. My question is who do
A: I know a number of the people over there.
Q: Well, do you – you indicated that you know Scottie Irving.
A: Yeah, I know –
Q: He’s the president, correct?
A: Yeah, to my knowledge.
Q: Did you speak with Mr. Irving about consulting services that you were – that
Liberty Law Group was performing for Blue Skye Construction?
Q. Did you speak with anyone else besides Mr. Irving?
A: I don’t recall.
* * *
Q: … [T]ell me about your conversation with Mr. Irving and the specifics of how
it is that Liberty Law Group came to provide consulting services for Blue Skye
A: Oh, we provide consulting services for, you know, a number of different
clients and on a, you know – there are a range of different type of companies
and I don’t recall our, you know, first conversation or you’re talking about
over, you know, numerous years of having that firm.
* * *
Q: … [M]y question is describe the conversation that you had with Mr. Irving
about what Liberty Law Group could do for Blue Skye Construction, the sort
of work they could do for them.
A: I don’t recall the initial conversations …
Q: Well, what would be – what would be the typical way you would have – you
would solicit business or go about getting business? And describe how you
would market Liberty Law Group’s consulting services.
A: I don’t market Liberty Law Group services. The firm is no longer in existence.
* * *
Q: Can you provide … any specifics of any conversation with anyone at Blue
Skye about what it is that Liberty Law Group or you individually were going
to do in the nature of consulting services for Blue Skye Construction?
A: There wasn’t me individually. So my law firm, and I do know that none of it
had to do with Blue Skye Construction paying us to get any work. They
absolutely – and when they paid us in 2009, it was way prior to us selecting
them. It was months that they – they – they paid us the last payment. It was for
work that they – that we had done for the firm several months before even the
RFQ or RFP was even put on the street. So we didn’t—so just to be clear, they
weren’t paying to get any contracts with us. They do a lot of other stuff in the
District, both public and private, and they select who – I mean they – they were
selected with a dozen other general contractors who we do no business with,
my law firm, and who didn’t pay us a nickel over any type of time period, and
the work that we did for Blue Skye Construction had nothing to do with their
being selected for the DPR contract or any other contract to do with the
Q: … What did Liberty Law Group do for Blue Skye Construction?
A: Oh, consulting, consulting, community consulting. They do a lot of work in the
community, right? They hire brothers and sisters who just got out of the pen,
you know. They, you know, give people jobs and that type of thing.
Q: So did you do any – did you do any of the work, the consulting work for Blue
A: My firm did.
Q: My question is did you.
A: I’m the only person – the only person that’s part of the firm. So?
Q: So the answer is, yes, you, as part of Liberty Law Group actually did the
A: Well, you have to be specific. I mean this was, you know – we haven’t done
any work with the firm in over a year. So I have a dozen different clients, and I
quite frankly don’t recall it being a year ago.766
Brian Scott Irving, of Blue Skye Construction, did remember how it was that he came to
work with Omar Karim, and his testimony contradicted Karim’s assertion that it had nothing to
do with obtaining government business. At his deposition on November 12, 2010, Irving
766 Karim Dep. (Sep. 21, 2010) 173:21-175:19, 176:5-177:9, 177:17-179:20.
explained that his firm hired Liberty Law Group for the specific purpose of enhancing its ability
to compete for government contracts: “it provides us with labor and an understanding of
government contracts.”767 He explained that Karim approached him shortly after Blue Skye
submitted a proposal with Coakley Williams to serve as the general contractor for the Walker
Jones project, for which Banneker was serving as the project manager along with Regan. Karim
advised Irving that Blue Skye was not well represented in its proposal. According to Irving,
Karim then offered, for a fee, to help Blue Skye understand the technical aspects of construction,
build capacity, and make a stronger appearance in response to future solicitations. Irving began
meeting with him regularly for that purpose, and Karim provided him with proposals that other
contractors had submitted which they would review and discuss.768
So he would have like manuals or other bid sheets that people had turned in, and
we would review them, and some of them dealt with technical questions that I had
no understanding of. So we would review them and every time I would go after a
job, I would apply these technical questions or these QC questions dealing with –
or safe developer, safety manual. So that’s what he would help me with.769
As part of Liberty Law Group’s consulting services, Irving also met with Skinner, who as
Irving recalls, handed him a Liberty Law Group business card bearing his name at a party.
Skinner’s assistance related to how to operate within the community – how to understand the
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and how to hire from the community, including exoffenders returning home.770
767 Deposition of Brian Scottie Irving, Blue Skye Construction (Nov. 12, 2010) 11:15-16.
768 The investigation did not reveal whether Karim showed Irving proposals he had received
in his capacity as the city’s program manager or whether these were samples he obtained from
other sources such as his previous work experience.
769 Irving Dep. 23:19-24:4.
770 Id. at 28:15-30:2.
My conversation with Skinner was – was kind of like he used the term which I
was comfortable with, “black.” “I need to talk to you about how you incorporate
our people into what you’re doing and how you uplift our community.”771
Skinner and Karim referred Blue Skye to African-American architects, attorneys, and other
Q: Is it correct that basically what … Liberty Law Group did for you was just give you
the names of these individuals to contact?
A: A little bit more than that, but yeah.
Q: All right. What more did they do for you?
A: Make sure that African Americans share our money together, and that’s why these
African Americans was used, that we developed these shops in DC.
* * *
Q: Did you expect to pay a monthly fee just to get the name of someone who might be
able to help you?
Q: Did you expect that in, you know, trying to develop business for the African
American community some of your – some of your friends, whoever they were, or
acquaintances would help you do that without a fee, in other words, would give you
names? “You ought to talk to this person” –
A: I have never met that person.
Q: – or they referred you to that person?
A: I have never met that person.
Q: What? You’ve never met the –
A: I have never met a person that never gave a name without a fee… In construction.772
When it came to answering questions about the solicitation for the DPR projects in
particular, Irving could not recall whether he had any conversations with Karim or Skinner
related to either Blue Skye’s proposal or his interview.773 He testified that he stopped utilizing
771 Id. at 29:16-21.
772 Id. at 73:20-74:6; 76:12-77:6.
773 Id. at 56:20-57:8
Karim and Skinner’s services when “all hell broke loose” concerning the Banneker and Liberty
recreation center contracts.774
Despite his personal involvement in the Blue Skye relationship, Sinclair Skinner did not
advance the inquiry.
Q: Did you provide any consulting services, either yourself individually or
through your company, Liberty Industries, to Blue Skye Construction, LLC or
to Blue Skye Development?
A: At this moment I don’t – I can’t recall specifically. I know I didn’t do anything
related to transfer of funds…775
After initially refusing to answer questions about Liberty Industries, he later agreed to do so. But
his “answers” were not really answers at all.
Q: … What is general consulting?
A: It’s consulting.
Q: Can you be more – any more specific than that?
Q: Based on the work you did for any client, and without necessarily at this point
getting into the identity of any client, what sort – can you give me some
examples of the sort of work that you have done for clients beyond describing
it as consulting? Can you be more specific?
A: Yes. I don’t recall any details but I’m clear that it had nothing to do with
determination of policies, consulting in procedures or practices surrounding
the transfer of funds or authority via the memorandum of understanding or
any other instrumentality for the Department of Parks and Recreation capital
projects. I’m positive the consulting had nothing to do with that.
Q: … [M]y question is really aimed at what it did relate to, what it – what was
involved in consulting. So that’s the question that I have for you now.
A: Yeah, I can’t recall. But I know for certain it didn’t involve the transfer of
* * *
Q: Have you done any community consulting?
A: Oh, I’m sure I have.
774 Id. at 35:7-10. While Karim could not recall whether Liberty Law Group generated any
invoices or documents, Blue Skye was able to provide some records memorializing the
relationship. Blue Skye’s files included not only invoices from Karim, but also an email from
Skinner attempting to collect on Liberty Law Group’s invoice.
775 Skinner Dep. (Oct. 6, 2010) 16:5-11.
Q: Do you recall ever having done any community consulting?
A: Nothing specific but I have background in community organizing and I’m
definitely capable of doing so.
* * *
Q: Can you be more specific other than simply saying that community consulting
is consulting in the community?
In light of this record, more investigation is needed concerning the payments made to
Liberty Law Group by Blue Skye and other contractors.777 And while the bank records reveal
that District Development and Capital Development made payments to Skinner’s Liberty
Industries, and not to Karim’s Liberty Law Group, given the unexplained and overlapping
relationships between Liberty Law Group and Liberty Industries, the payments to Liberty
Industries warrant further inquiry as well.
There is insufficient evidence to enable us to conclude whether the payments made to
Liberty Law Group and Liberty Industries by contractors bidding for city work were made for
independent, legitimate reasons or whether they were part of an improper effort to affect the
process. While the expansion of opportunity for minority owned contractors is an important goal
– and indeed, preferences for local and disadvantaged businesses are codified in D.C.’s
procurement laws – and while it is laudable for businessmen who achieve success to assist upand-coming companies seeking to enter the market behind them, the evidence raises questions as
to whether Karim was taking advantage of his status as the city’s project manager to market that
776 Id. at 46:10-47:14, 48:2-14.
777 Anthony Floyd, the owner of AF Development was scheduled to be deposed on
December 14, 2010, but on December 13, he cancelled the deposition, citing the need to obtain
counsel and holiday-related conflicts that would require deferring the deposition until 2011. In
light of the recommendation that the matter be referred for further investigation, the decision was
made not to prolong the investigation further in order to obtain the testimony of other witnesses,
on these issues.
mentorship as a paid service, and whether he was selling the service to would-be city contractors
at the same time that he was entrusted with making unbiased decisions about the disposition of
city funds. At the very least, the facts that have come to light so far indicate the existence of a
significant undisclosed conflict of interest; at worst, they raise the question of whether the
payments were part of an improper scheme. Without expressing a view as to the likely outcome,
we recommend that the Council refer this matter to the United States Attorney for further
IX. EVENTS AFTER THE INVESTIGATION BEGAN
A. The Funds Cutoff and the Stop Work Order
After the press began reporting on the Banneker contract and the Committee held its
initial Roundtable hearing on October 30, 2009, there was considerable discussion both within
the government and between the government and its contractors about how to proceed. On
November 2, Sean Regan wrote to Glover and asked: “We’ve had a couple contractors and
consultants ask us if the projects are on hold or if they should keep working on the design and
estimating going on right now.” Glover sought Jannarone’s guidance on how to respond, and he
directed her to “keep moving, get the contracts signed and ready to send to council.”778
On November 3, the Council voted to suspend the flow of funds from DMPED to DCHA
for the parks projects.779 Since DCHA viewed DMPED as its “client” on the parks projects, on
778 Ex. 254, E-mail from David Jannarone (EOM) to Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) and Sri Sekar
(EOM) (Nov. 2, 2009 1:20 PM). See also Ex. 255, E-mail from Erika Lehman, Regan
Associates, to Craig Atkins, Jeff Lee, Abdullahi Barrow, et. al. (Nov. 12 2009 10:34 AM) (“our
project managers at DMPED are asking us to keep moving forward with all projects in spite of
779 Ex. 256, Department of Parks and Recreation Budget Transparency Emergency Act of
November 4, the DCHA Executive Director, Adrienne Todman, wrote a letter to the Deputy
Mayor seeking direction.780 The letter to Santos asks: “In light of the Public Roundtable on
Friday, October 30, 2009, the MOU and the contract with Banneker Ventures, LLC, please
advise how DMPED would like DCHA to proceed with the MOU and the contract with
Banneker Ventures, LLC for program management.”781
At the same time, William Slover, the Chair of the DCHA Board and therefore a member
of the DCHE Board, was concerned that DCHE could find itself responsible for charges for work
performed on the projects that it could not pay. He came to the view that the agency could best
protect itself by transferring responsibility for the park projects back to DMPED. Slover
consulted with the DCHA General Counsel, who drafted a proposed resolution to accomplish
Slover discussed his proposal with fellow Board members during the informal brown bag
session that preceded the November 11 monthly Board meeting. According to Adrienne Todman,
the reaction was “mixed:”
[T]here were some board members who fully supported what he proposed. Folks
were very nervous about the scrutiny. It’s the first time the Housing Authority had
been under such severe scrutiny. But there were some board members who
thought that, you know, we began a partnership with DMPED and we should see
780 Ex. 257, Letter from Adrienne Todman to Valerie Santos (Nov. 4, 2009).
781 When asked during her deposition, Valerie Santos could not recall whether she responded
to Todman’s November 4 letter or not. Santos Dep. 89:1-2 Nor did she know whether she had
referred it to the OAG for a response, although she recalled consulting with that office. Id. at
782 Ex. 258, Resolution 09-42, DCHA, Notice of Termination of Memorandum of
783 Deposition of Adrianne Todman, DCHA (Sep. 24, 2010) 35:8-14.
For her part, Todman “was trying to find a solution that would protect DCHA. I had some
concern about an outright termination, if it would look like we were somehow doing something
that was inappropriate.”784
Valerie Santos, the Deputy Mayor, sat on the DCHA Board, and she was strongly
opposed to Slover’s approach. LaRuby May, another DCHA Board member, remembered little
about the Board meeting when she was deposed,785 but she indicated that she “just really tried to
give a good look at how it would affect the residents that we are privileged to serve.”786 Looking
at it from the standpoint of the communities’ needs, she concluded that it was important to
continue work on the recreation centers.787 The resolution was not put forward for a formal vote
at the November meeting.
On November 13, the Attorney General sent a letter to Adrienne Todman and the DCHA
Board containing his recommendation on how the agency should proceed. Nickles wrote:
I believe the solution is for DCHA on its own behalf and on behalf of DCHE to
inform the Council of the potentially devastating impact of its emergency and
temporary legislation on the DCHE/Banneker contract, specifically, and
recreation projects in general and submit the contracts on an emergency basis for
approval at the Council’s December 1, 2009 legislative session. Such legislation
should exempt the contracts from the emergency and temporary legislation
prohibiting the transfer of any funds to DCHA relating to DPR projects.788
784 Todman Dep. notes.
785 May Dep. 39:14-40:13.
786 May Dep. 51:1-3.
787 Id. at 51:7-8.
788 Ex. 262, Letter from Peter J. Nickles to Adrianne Todman (Nov. 13, 2009).
Nickles sent a copy of his letter to every member of the DCHA Board and to Froelicher, the
DCHA General Counsel.
On November 16, Froelicher responded. He outlined the nature of the agency
relationship established between DMPED and DCHA under the terms of the MOU and pointed
out that DCHA/DCHE now lacked the funds it needed to perform its responsibilities. Froelicher
took the position that under the terms of the MOU, it was DMPED’s responsibility to seek
Council approval for the program management contract.789 Todman agreed with this position.
We actually responded to him and suggested that it was actually a project that was
owned and sponsored by the city government and that we would not take the lead
in terms of providing these matters to the council. In having had reviewed the
MOU, it was clear that it was the responsibility of DMPED to engage in certain
local government matters.790
Meanwhile, according to Larry Dwyer, the Executive Director of DCHE, the agency was
becoming increasingly concerned that it could incur additional liability to pay contractors at a
time when it was unclear whether the funds to pay those contractors would ever be forthcoming.
Therefore, the decision was made to suspend all work on the projects. On November 20, 2009,
Dwyer transmitted a letter to Banneker indicating that all work must stop as of November 30.791
DCHA Board members agreed with this approach.792
789 Ex. 259, Letter from Hans Froelicher to Peter J. Nickles (Nov. 16, 2009).
790 Todman Dep. 32:21-33:5.
791 Ex. 260, Letter from Larry Dwyer to Omar Karim (Nov. 20, 2009) with delivery receipt
792 May Dep. 41:10-21 (“[W]e had an obligation to make sure that we didn’t have vendors or
contractors working beyond a point that we could pay them…. I think we issued a stop work
notice, I don’t know, effective in November or at some point. So I know that that was something
I was definitely in support of, to make sure that we didn’t allow people to work beyond what we
could pay them.”).
B. The December 2009 Change Order and MOU
After the work stopped, DMPED took steps to resolve the conflict with the Council in the
hope of getting the projects moving again. David Jannarone took charge of the effort,793 and he
circulated a checklist of tasks to be completed by DMPED, Banneker, and DCHA.794 Jannarone
testified that “when the Attorney General issued an opinion that the contracts should go to
Council, we started this process to send them to Council.”795 He stated that the City
Administrator directed him to make sure it happened.796
Neil Albert confirmed that as City Administrator, he supported the effort to revise the
contracts and obtain Council approval. He testified that at the time, the executive branch was
engaged in informal conversations with some members of the Council and that they were
optimistic that the effort to package the contracts to be submitted to the Council after the fact
would solve the problem.
… I had a voice in that and my voice was to make sure that the contracts went to
the Council. I had conversations with Council members about it, particularly
Council member Harry Thomas about sort of what is the best way to move the
projects forward, getting City Council approval. I think we both, Harry and I both
were of the opinion that we shouldn’t penalize the residents of the District of
Columbia for some, my words, “mistakes” on behalf of the municipal
793 Glover Dep. 209:8-11.
794 Ex. 261, E-mail from David Jannarone (EOM) to Omar Karim (Dec. 4, 2009 7:41 PM)
with DPR Capital Projects checklist.
795 Jannarone Dep. 131:6-9.
796 Id. at 131:12-15.
797 Albert Dep. 161:5-14.
Jannarone also testified that he had reason to believe that the Council would be receptive
to the effort.
I was involved in conversations about, “What do we do now to get these projects
done?” And I was involved in conversation with every single person including
every single Councilmember about that issue.
* * *
[I] spoke with many, many Councilmembers about this. Worked with many
Councilmembers to figure out how to resolve this issue and move the projects
Jannarone identified Councilmembers Harry Thomas, Marion Barry, Kwame Brown, Tommy
Wells, and possibly Yvette Alexander as those with whom he spoke.799 Glover also believed that
the Council was aware of what Jannarone was attempting to accomplish. “I don’t really know the
specifics, at least I can’t remember, but per some conversation that Mr. Jannarone had with some
of the Council members, I guess, they came to some type of understanding that if Banneker were
to change their contract around then it could be presented to Council for approval and it might be
The change order submitted to DCHA for execution reflected the expanded scope of
work, and it also reduced the fees that had been the subject of criticism at the earlier hearings.
It was actually Kwame Brown who was working with all the Councilmembers
again individually to try and come up with a package that they felt comfortable
with and approve. As part of that, we went back and beat them down on the
markup per my conversation with Kwame Brown.801
798 Jannerone Dep. 128:2-6, 132:7-10.
799 Id. at 132:13-14.
800 Glover Dep. 214:10-16.
801 Jannarone Dep. 138:17-22.
While the original contract provided for a fixed fee of $4.2 million and a 9% mark-up on
payments to consultants,802 the change order increased the fixed fee commensurate with the
expanded scope of work but reduced the percentage of the mark-up on consultants to 5% and
capped the amount that could be paid under that provision at $350,000.803 As was the case with
the original contract, it was DMPED and not DCHA that negotiated the terms of the
While DCHA resisted taking the lead, it worked with DMPED to revise the MOU and the
contract so that the work could resume. According to LaRuby May, “I do recall there trying to be
something, you know, an amicable like something that we can work this out in order to move
forward or between DCHA and DMPED and the Council and all of the parties involved…”805
She testified that once it was determined that the contract needed to be submitted to the Council,
the object of the exercise was to make sure that the Council had a complete package that fully
reflected the scope of the work.806 Todman, the DCHA Executive Director, handled the issue on
the DCHA side.807
802 Ex. 80, Contract for Services between DCHE and Banneker Ventures, Contract No.
2009-05 (Jul. 14, 2009), § 9.A. I and II.
803 Ex. 263, DC Housing Enterprises Resolution 09-15, Change Order to Contract for Project
Management Services regarding DMPED/DPR Capital Construction Projects (Dec. 9, 2009).
804 See Todman Dep. 20:1-7, 44:12-21; Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 29:2-32:8.
805 May Dep. 44:19-45:1.
806 Id. at 42:18-43:9.
807 Id. at 45:15-21.
On December 9, the DCHA Board was asked to vote on a resolution to amend and
increase the MOU,808 and the DCHE Board (consisting of 3 DCHA Board members and
Todman) was presented with a resolution to execute the change order to its contract with
Banneker.809 Todman explained that there had been discussions between DCHA and DMPED,
“its client,” about taking the DPR contract to the Council, and that DMPED decided it wanted
the contract to reflect the full scope of the work to be performed.810 When she was asked why it
was being done in December, after the Council had cut off the money, Todman’s response was:
DMPED wanted to take the contracts to the Council. We had done the stop work
order and no work was happening. DMPED decided it wanted the parks built, so
it wanted to get past the issue of Council approval by getting Council approval,
hoping the work would be approved and continued.811
While city officials may have believed that the effort to have the Council ratify the
contract retroactively would succeed, the DCHA Board was placed on notice that at least some
members of the Council would take a dim view of any effort to expand the MOU or the
Banneker contract at that point in time. Councilmember Barry personally attended the DCHA
Board meeting on December 9, 2009 at which the resolution to increase the MOU to $99 million
and to execute the change order with Banneker was discussed. Barry informed the Board that he
was “shocked” and “outraged” that DMPED and DCHE were even considering taking such
action in the middle of a controversy that had tarnished both the city and the Housing Authority,
particularly when the Council was poised to take action and the projects were likely to be sent to
808 Ex. 264, DCHA Resolution 09-49 (Dec. 9, 2009) (approving amendment to MOU with
DMPED regarding Capital Construction Projects).
809 Ex. 265, DC Housing Enterprises Resolution 09-15 (Dec. 9, 2009) (change order).
810 Todman Dep. Notes.
811 Todman Dep. Notes.
OPEFM.812 He warned, “the climate down there on the City Council is very toxic right now.”813
The Board’s reaction to the resolutions was “mixed but ultimately successful.”814 It approved the
resolution by a vote of 5 to 3.815
Thus, although the activity in December was not universally approved, it seems to have
been nothing more than an effort to reconcile the governing documents with the evolution of the
project, and it did not represent the first attempt to get that done. The record reveals that
Banneker prepared change orders along the way when it was asked to manage the renovation of
additional parks, although there is no indication that they were ever signed by DCHE.816 The
documents produced by city agencies also include many emails between DPR and DMPED
exchanging drafts of MOUs that would have transferred additional funds and more accurately
reflected the reality of the work being overseen by DCHA.817
812 Ex. 266, DCHA Board Minutes (Dec. 9, 2009) at 30-56.
813 Id. at 55.
814 Todman Dep. Notes.
815 During his interview, Slover characterized the non-unanimous vote as an extraordinary
event. When Todman was asked whether it was unusual for the Board to pass a resolution
without consensus, she said, “At that point, no, but it was unusual given the history of the
board.” Todman Dep. Notes.
816 See Ex. 267, “Change Order No. 1 to Contract for Services,” signed by Karim on Aug. 1,
2009; Ex. 268, “Change Order No. 2 to Contract for Services,” signed by Karim on Sep. 1, 2009;
and, Ex. 269, E-mail from Carol Rajaram, Banneker Ventures to Asmara Habte, DCHA (Oct. 28,
2009), transmitting change orders 1-3.
817 See e.g., Ex. 270, E-mail from Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) to Bianca Fagin (DPR) and
David Janifer (DPR) (Mar. 16, 2009), transmitting MOU for Raymond Recreation Center (“We
are adding this project to our list.”); Ex. 271, E-mail from Bianca Fagin (DPR) to Bridget
Stesney (DPR) (Jun. 15, 2009) attaching draft MOU for Bald Eagle; and Ex. 272, E-mail from
Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) to Bianca Fagin (DPR) (Jul. 17, 2009) regarding amending the MOU.
Experienced construction managers who were interviewed, such as Larry Dwyer from
DCHE and Will Mangrum of Brailsford and Dunlavey, indicated that it is not unusual for the
scope of ongoing projects to expand before the paperwork catches up. While the most prudent
practice would involve executing a change order before new work begins, they were not
particularly troubled by the fact that Banneker began work on additional parks based upon
DMPED’s oral directions. They noted that in the absence of a revised contract, the contractor
was proceeding at its own risk.818
The driving consideration in this effort was speed, and it was symptomatic of that
approach that DMPED expanded the contractor’s scope of work without negotiating appropriate
change orders, and that DCHA approved invoices for work on parks not included in the MOU. In
this push to complete things quickly, what suffered was the quality of DMPED’s project
management and the administrative services performed by DCHA. But the evidence did not
reveal anything underhanded. As Larry Dwyer pointed out, it was never anticipated that the work
would stop abruptly in November, and it is likely that the paperwork would have caught up if the
projects had run their course.819
The expansion of the MOU and the Banneker contract in December were intended to
align the contract and the funding documents with the actual scope of the project, so that the
contract being presented for approval – which had also been revised to be more palatable to the
Council – would be complete. While we conclude that William Slover’s proposed resolution to
818 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 6, 2010) 77:8-15, 82:7-22, 133:19-134:11; Interview with Mangrum
819 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 10, 2010) 24:17-25:2.
terminate the MOU was an equally acceptable approach,820 the fact that DCHA and DMPED
revised both the contract and the MOU on the eve of the December Council hearings is not itself
something that gives rise to concerns about wrongdoing.
C. Removal of the DCHA Board Chairman
On November 20, the Chairman of the DCHA Board of Commissioners, William Slover,
was removed from his position as Chair. Slover remained on the DCHA Board as a member, but
the loss of his Chair’s position had the effect of removing him from the Board of DCHE as well.
Slover had been vocal in raising concerns about the Banneker contract. And in November, after
the Council cut off further transmittals of funds to DCHA, he advocated terminating DCHA’s
involvement and transferring the DPR projects back to DMPED, rather than increasing the MOU
and modifying the Banneker contract. Slover expressed his opinion to DCHA Board members,
including Deputy Mayor Santos. He spoke directly to City Administrator Neil Albert on the
afternoon of November 20, and that evening, he learned from Tracy Sandler, the Director of the
Office of Boards and Commissions, that he was being removed. Slover’s removal as DCHA
Board Chair appeared to some at the time to have been related to his opposition to the Banneker
contract and the course of action being recommended by the Deputy Mayor. The interview with
Peter Nickles revealed, though, that the change in DCHA leadership was prompted by the
Attorney General’s own dissatisfaction with the DCHA General Counsel’s response to his
advice. In any event, Slover served as Chair at the pleasure of the Mayor, so the Mayor’s action
was not illegal, and it does not raise issues for further investigation.
820 As Neil Albert testified, “he certainly had the – I think he had the authority as the chair of
the Housing Authority Board to make that decision.” Albert Dep. 151:10-12.
As noted above, on November 13, 2009, the Attorney General conveyed his
recommendation to DCHA that it seek retroactive approval of the Banneker contract from the
D.C. Council. And on November 16, the DCHA General Counsel, Hans Froelicher, responded
with his opinion that under the terms of the MOU, it was DMPED’s responsibility, and not
DCHA’s, to obtain any such review. During his interview, Nickles explained that he found
Froelicher’s November 16 letter “very disappointing” and “very frustrating.” He was “offended”
that DCHA would ask for his advice about these contracts and then reject it, particularly since
the OAG had previously taken the position that Council approval for all contracts was necessary.
He made it known within the Executive Office of the Mayor that he believed that a change in
leadership at DCHA was required.821
Slover made it clear during his interview that he had no personal knowledge of why the
action was taken – he was not provided with any reasons at the time. What he did know was that
he had publicly disagreed with Deputy Mayor Santos about the course of action DCHA should
take, and that he had repeated his concerns about the Banneker contract and his recommendation
that the parks projects should be transferred back to DMPED to the City Administrator, Neil
Albert, on the very day that he was removed.822 But it appears that neither Albert nor Santos was
behind his removal.
821 Nickles stated during his interview that he had never had any dealings with Slover
individually nor any with the DCHA Board as a whole. But he felt that the General Counsel was
simply an employee, and that the ultimate responsibility for the agency’s actions lay with the
Board. He also stated during the interview that he sought a change in leadership across the board
and that he did not single Slover out, but the OAG produced a November 20, 2009 memorandum
from Nickles to Tracy Sandler calling for the change which was entitled, “DCHA Board–
Chairmanship.” Ex. 273, Memorandum from Peter Nickles to Tracy Sandler (Nov. 20, 2009).
822 Interview with William Slover.
Albert confirmed Slover’s account that the two of them had spoken at some length earlier
in the day on which Slover was removed.823 He recalled that the two had been trying to schedule
a meeting for some time and they were finally able to get together on that date. Slover expressed
his view that the MOU between DMPED and DCHA should be terminated, and Albert took the
opposing side, pointing out that the projects were moving forward and that the MOU had
received legal approval within DCHA.824 The conversation was cordial; as Albert recalled, “I
remember having a conversation with him … I had lost my dad at that time and he was
particularly sympathetic in that conversation and so the majority of what we talked about was
that along with the DC Housing Authority issues.”825 According to Albert, he was unaware that
Slover was going to be removed at the time of the conversation;826 he did not have personal
knowledge of how Slover came to be removed;827 and he did not recommend that anyone remove
During her testimony, Valerie Santos, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic
Development, who also served on the DCHA Board, was able to detail her clash of perspectives
Well, his view was that he was uncomfortable about the structure. He was
uncomfortable. He was one of the people that thought that – he alleged that the
fees were excessive, and he made several statements that DCHE should just get
823 Albert Dep. 152:14-153:12.
824 Id. at 153:16-154:6.
825 Id. at 157:1-7.
826 Id. at 153:9-12.
827 Id. at 151:19-152:8.
828 Id. at 157:8-12.
out of the business of doing this work. So he raised a number of questions, not all
of which I remember. And he was in favor of basically stopping the work, from
our perspective and putting it back on the City to figure out how else to get the
work done…. I mean, he said all kind of things and this was a long time ago, but I
do remember him saying, these fees are high based on his knowledge.
* * *
And so I said, Bill, we – it’s important to us [that] the projects move. It’s
important not just to us, but we get complaints all the time from community
members and also Council members, why aren’t you guys faster, why isn’t this
done, why isn’t this done. So that’s where I’m coming from. What concerns do
you have? Can we deal with them in a different way as opposed to just stopping
* * *
His response was, these are his concerns, he’s worried about the fees, he wants
reassurances that nothing inappropriate has happened. And I said, as far as I
know, of course nothing inappropriate’s happening. I have no desire to be
involved in anything like that. It doesn’t benefit anybody. I don’t know Omar. I
can give you my personal assurance. Because those are the things he was
And then, I remember he needed to think about it…. He was just very
nervous, is probably the better way of putting it. Nervous as in, he wanted to
really be as conservative as possible.
* * *
…Bill didn’t shift his position, and so he basically wanted to stop all work. I don’t
remember the sequence of who talked to whom and when, but culminating in … I
don’t know which came first, but I do know that the decision was made to replace
him as Chair of the Board. And after that it was just pretty acrimonious.829
But Santos could not remember any specific conversation concerning the actual decision to
remove Slover, and she did not recall being provided with the reasons that he was removed.830
Tracy Sandler, who communicated the decision to Slover on November 20, testified as
well. In November of 2009, Sandler was serving as Director of the Office of Boards and
Commissions. She was a Mayoral appointee with responsibility for the recruitment and
829 Santos Dep. 91:3-19; 95:11-97:8.
830 Id. at 99:14-101:22.
recommendation of the more than 2700 other Mayoral appointees serving on over 180 boards.831
She testified that there was only one occasion during her tenure that she removed an appointee,
and that was in the case of William Slover.832 On November 20, Sandler was called to the
“bullpen,” an open space within the executive office of the Mayor, to meet with the Mayor.
During a brief conversation, he asked if they were able to remove Slover as Chairperson, and she
informed him that they were. He then directed her to do so.833 Sandler returned to her office to
handle other matters and telephoned Slover that evening.834 The Mayor did not provide Sandler
with any reasons for his request nor did Sandler request any.835 She was told to elevate LaRuby
May to the position of Board Chair during the same conversation,836 and she informed May of
the decision that evening as well. May was not told why she was replacing Slover.837 Other than
speaking with a staff assistant, Sandler testified that she did not believe that she discussed the
matter with anyone else in city government that day.838
831 Sandler Dep. 13:14–18:20.
832 Id. at 17:2-7.
833 Id. at 46:1-12, 50:17-51:9.
834 Id. at 25:2-15, 48:3-6.
835 Id. at 26:2-6, 46:13-18, 53:17-21.
836 Id. at 47:3-9.
837 May Dep. 12:8-12.
838 Sandler Dep. 27:10-22, 29:11-30:13, 54:19-21. Sandler testified on July 20, 2010 that she
did not memorialize her conversation with the Mayor in writing, she did not create any
paperwork regarding his removal, and there was no other record or document from the Mayor
regarding Slover or his removal. Id. at 27:2-9. She had a clear recollection that it was the Mayor
who directed her to take the personnel action in a face to face conversation, and she did not recall
discussing the matter with any other city official. She also stated multiple times that she was
never provided with any reasons for Slover’s removal. See, e.g. id. at 26:2-6, 46:13-18, 53:17-21.
(footnote continued on next page)
In the written questions submitted to the Mayor, Mayor Fenty was asked why he directed
Tracy Sandler to remove Slover as Chair of the DCHA Board. He responded:
There were a number of reasons why I directed Tracy Sandler to remove William
Slover as Chair of the DCHA Board. As I recall, a primary concern that I had was
his unwillingness and the unwillingness of the leadership at DCHA to follow the
opinion of my Attorney General that these DCHA contracts had to be submitted
to the Council for approval.839
Given the Executive’s prerogative in this area, there is nothing in the events surrounding
Slover’s November 20, 2009 removal as DCHA Board Chair that warrants further investigation.
After the deposition had been completed, we became aware of a memo dated November
20, 2009 from Peter Nickles to Tracy Sandler with the subject line: “DCHA Board –
Chairmanship,” which had not previously been produced to us, and was not mentioned by
Sandler during her testimony. The memo states, “I have become increasingly concerned about
the leadership of DCHA, particularly its failure to abide by the request I made recently that
DCHA submit certain contracts to the Council for its retroactive approval. … Please inform me
as to whether the requested change in leadership of the DCHA Board can be effected promptly.”
Ex. 273. OAG provided the memo to the Special Counsel on September 13, 2010. Given the
timing of the memo’s production, we had no opportunity to question Sandler about it.
839 Ex. 24. On September 3, 2010, during a campaign debate, Fenty was asked about Slover,
He responded: “the answer is that the person who you named would not, even though the
Attorney General asked him, agree to send contracts to the Council. Because he did not, that was
one of the reasons the Attorney General made the recommendation to the Director of Boards and
Commissions that he step down and someone else would be put in there.”
http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/politics/dc-mayoral-debate-adrian-fenty-vincentgray-candidate-questions-090310. While it is true that Slover did not think that DCHA should
pursue the course being proposed by the Deputy Mayor and the Attorney General, the written
answer and this statement could be read to imply that what he objected to was the idea of
submitting the Banneker contract, or DCHA contracts in general, to the Council for approval at
all, and that would be inaccurate. According to Slover, he was unaware of the Council approval
issue until the investigation began. Once he learned about it in October, he did not object to
seeking Council review, but thought from his review of the documents that it was DMPED’s
responsibility to do so. But from the start, Slover raised numerous questions about DCHE’s
participation in the projects and the award of the project management contract, and in November,
after funding was cut off by the Council, his objective was extricating DCHA from the projects
D. The December 24 Payment
On December 15, 2009, the Council formally disapproved Banneker’s project
management contract in a unanimous vote.840 At that time, Banneker invoices 1 – 4 had already
been paid in full, and invoices 5 through 7, for work performed in September, October, and
November, were still outstanding. On December 21, Banneker representatives and their counsel
met to discuss payment with Adrianne Todman – the Interim Executive Director of DCHA, who
also served as a Board member of DCHE; LaRuby May – the DCHA Board Chair and a DCHE
Board member; and, Hans Froelicher – the DCHA General Counsel. DMPED’s David Jannarone
participated in the meeting by phone as well.841 Those present agreed that DCHE would work to
review and pay the invoices promptly if Banneker provided all of the necessary documentation.
On December 22, Banneker submitted a supplemental invoice #8, transmitting additional
subcontractor bills for work performed before November 30.842 Three days after the meeting, on
Thursday, December 24, Banneker and DCHE executed a settlement agreement,843 and DCHA
issued checks to Banneker totaling $2,554,071.844 On that day, DCHA’s Chief Financial Officer,
Debra Toothman, raised concerns, but Todman directed that the payment be made.
840 D.C. Act 18-258. The Council passed the resolution on December 15, 2009, and it was
signed by the Mayor on January 4, 2010.
841 Ex. 274, Letter from A. Scott Bolden to Peter J. Nickles (Jan. 5, 2010); Todman Dep.
Notes; May Dep. 59:18-62:19; Interview with Hans Froelicher.
842 Ex. 275, Letter from Omar A. Karim to Asmara Habte (Dec. 22, 2009) with invoices
843 Ex. 276, Settlement Agreement and Release (Dec. 24, 2009).
844 Ex. 277, Memo from Asmara Habte to Quincy Randolph (Dec. 24, 2009) (requesting
payment of Invoice #’s 5, 6, 7, 8 in the amount of $2,554,071 to Banneker Ventures); Ex. 278, Email from Debra Kay Toothman to Adrianne Todman (Dec. 24, 2009) (indicating that payment
had been made).
The decision to pay the outstanding invoices was made primarily by Todman, under
prodding by Jannarone and with May’s concurrence, and without the participation or knowledge
of the Council,845 the DCHA Board, or Deputy Mayor Santos.846 The DCHE Board resolution
approving the Settlement Agreement was signed by Board members Todman and May and just
one other director, William Knox.847 (The fourth DCHE director, Fernando Lemos, was out of
the country, was not spoken to, and did not vote.) Larry Dwyer, the President of DCHE, was
generally aware of the desire to wrap up the contract and terminate DCHE’s involvement, but
since he was out of the office for most of December tending to a relative who was ill, he was not
actively involved in the discussions. He testified that DCHE’s Chief Operating Officer, Hugh
Triggs, was authorized to sign an agreement in his absence if the Board approved one. The
agreement was signed by Triggs and the DCHA Deputy General Counsel.848 There is no
evidence that the Mayor or the Office of the Attorney General played any role in the settlement
with Banneker at this juncture.
845 We were not provided with any documentary evidence or testimony indicating that the
Council had been notified.
846 Santos testified that she first learned of the payment when Councilmember Thomas asked
her about it at a meeting in January 2010, and that she was caught “like a deer in the headlights.”
Santos Dep. 134:17-18. As of January 7, 2010, her executive assistant, Liza Collado, was
summoning Glover, Jannarone, and others to a morning meeting to discuss how to clear up the
Councilmember’s “misimpression” that a settlement had been approved in late December. Ex.
279, E-mail from Liza Collado (EOM) to Chip Richardson (EOM), David Jannarone (EOM), Sri
Sekar (EOM), Lindsey Parker (EOM), Jacquelyn Glover (EOM) (Jan. 7, 2010 9:28:45 EST).
Todman’s email to Santos confirming the settlement and outlining the amounts involved was not
sent until later that day. Ex. 280, E-mail from Adrianne Todman to Valerie Santos (EOM) (Jan.
7, 2010 12:24 PM EST).
847 Ex. 281, DC Housing Enterprises Resolution “09-” To Authorize Payment of
Subcontractor Invoices Pursuant to DCHE Contract with Banneker (Dec. 24, 2009).
848 See Ex. 276.
The DCHA witnesses who were deposed explained that they had been receiving repeated
inquiries from contractors who had not been paid, as well as from David Jannarone, and that it
was their desire at that point to make the contractors whole and bring DCHA’s participation in
the DPR projects to a conclusion. According to Larry Dwyer, “there was a desire to sort of clean
it up on … Housing Authority’s part and at this point clearly the majority of it, if not all of both
the DCHE board members, the commissioners and staff all wanted to just simply put a tourniquet
on the Housing Authority’s damage on this thing and part of that was pay off, get out of
obligations, get this thing done.”849 Todman, who had just been appointed in October 2009 to
serve as DCHA’s Interim Executive Director, testified that she had been receiving calls from
vendors directly and from the DMPED representatives, who reported on the vendor calls being
made to them. She stated:
There had been a number of concerns raised about vendors not getting paid and
the subs who had done work and not paid for months. There were two outstanding
invoices received in August or September, and there had been work done up until
the stop work order. The vendors were calling me, among others, and I was
getting calls from DMPED about vendors calling them. At the point the Council
terminated the contract, it was clear the projects were not going to move forward
but work had been done. There was a general interest in trying to make the
vendors whole who had done that work. So the DCHE board decided to move
forward and authorize the payments.
Q: When [did the Board authorize the payment]?
A: The Board authorized the payment on the same day the payment was made.850
Todman agreed, though, that the process was well underway before it was presented to
the other members of the DCHE Board for approval. She explained that she received a call from
849 Dwyer Dep. (Aug. 10, 2010) 34:22-35:6.
850 Todman Dep. Notes (from Special Counsel’s notes from the unrecorded portion of the
May advising her that Banneker and its attorney wanted to meet. Todman attended the meeting
along with May and Froelicher, and David Jannarone participated by phone.851 She confirmed
that counsel for Banneker accurately described what took place when he stated in a January 5,
During the discussion, the parties agreed to bifurcate and separately resolve issues
related to payment of the outstanding Banneker invoices for work performed
through November 30, 2009 (the effective date of the Suspension of Work Order)
and the negotiation of a final settlement to address contract close-out.852
She stated that she committed to cut the check within 48 hours if everything was in order, and
testified that such speed was consistent with the practice of her agency. When asked whether she
considered consulting the Council, or whether notifying the Council was discussed within
DCHA, Todman indicated that it was not part of DCHA standard operating procedure or practice
to inform the Council when making payments.853 While Todman could not identify any other
instance in which a check of this magnitude was processed in three days, she testified that she
was not troubled by the timeline:
It’s not impossible to suggest it occurred in other settlement or emergency
* * *
[C]utting a check is cutting a check. And I think that the fact that it was around
Christmas is irrelevant for me because it was a work day, on the 24th. As it relates
to the frequency or the casual observer how it usually is, settlement negotiations
are never usual, it always presumes that something has occurred that’s out of the
ordinary. So I think that in situations like this it is not unusual that a large
organization would take aggressive action to have closure and that’s what we
851 Jannarone recalled discussing the settlement with May and Todman but did not recall
being part of the meeting with Banneker and its counsel. Jannarone Dep. 149:13-19.
852 See Ex. 274.
853 Todman Dep. Notes.
854 Todman Dep. 38:9-18.
Todman stressed this concept of “closure” as her principal motivating factor:
The closure for me … was we, at HE/HA were the holders of the contract and we
were the contract administrator, as evidenced by what we were doing, and we
ultimately were going to be the ones responsible for getting the vendors paid. And
the closure, for me and for all those who took this action is we wanted the vendors
to be paid so that we at HA/HE were not dealing with legal matters and time staff
matters and programmatic matters dealing with 15 or 16 or 17 vendors who were
asking us on a daily basis to pay them. … I am not funded by my primary funder
to do this work. And so every time spent engaging in this is time spent away from
our core mission. … And for me closure meant taking something off the table so
we could focus on the matters that matter.855
LaRuby May also played a key role in approving the Christmas Eve payment. While her
recollection was somewhat limited, she testified that she had been receiving calls and emails
from both Jannarone and Karim concerning the outstanding invoices and that she also heard from
a Ms. Webster, the director of constituent services for Councilmember Thomas, who was
advocating on behalf of Ward 5 contractors who had not been paid.856 May said that it was
important to her to make sure that the small contractors got paid. According to May, the decision
was DCHE’s to make, and she testified that since she and Todman sat on the DCHE Board, they
were representing DCHE at the meeting. May recalled that at the meeting, they made a
855 Todman Dep. at 39:8-40:5. Todman’s complaint that handling vendor invoices diverted
attention from DCHA’s “core mission” raises the question of why DCHA would agree to an
MOU in which its role was to act not as the construction manager, but as the “pay agent” for
another agency’s project.
856 Todman and May both specifically brought up advocacy on behalf of contractors by
Councilmember Thomas’s staff as part of the motivation for their decision to pay the Banneker
invoices. While there may have been telephone contacts, the only documents that have been
produced that reflect communications from Thomas’s office to DCHA are emails from January
of 2010, after the Christmas eve payment, and they relate to work performed on DPR and DCHA
projects that were not among the set of DPR projects managed by Banneker – the 14th and Girard
Street Park, and the 10th and French Street Park. Indeed, Todman pointed that out herself in her
January 15, 2010 response to Thomas’s staff member. Ex. 282, E-mail from Adrianne Todman to
James Pittman (Council) (Jan. 15, 2010 5:37 PM EST).
commitment to make the payment once all of the documentation issues were resolved, but she
did not believe that they promised to pay by any particular date. She stated that she was out of
town when Banneker was actually paid, but she also testified that she personally signed the
DCHE Board resolution authorizing the payment, which is dated December 24.857
Hans Froelicher, the DCHA General Counsel, also recalled that they reached an oral
agreement on December 21 to pay the invoices if Banneker submitted all of the necessary backup documentation. He recalls that the goal was to get it done as soon as possible so that the
contractors who had done the work could get paid. Todman and May indicated that they played
no role in the negotiation of the settlement and that they left the terms of the agreement up to
Froelicher. He was on leave on December 24, and he testified that he gave his Deputy General
Counsel, Lori Parris, authority to consummate the settlement. She contacted Froelicher that day
to confirm that it would be acceptable to carve portions of invoice # 7 out of the agreement, and
he approved that arrangement.
Asmara Habte, the DCHE contractor whose job it was to review the Banneker invoices,
recalled being asked by Todman to review the outstanding bills at some point in December, but
she was not told that the work had to be completed by any particular date. She did not feel under
pressure to finish by December 24 but indicated that for her own personal reasons, she tried to
complete the review that day so that she would not have to think about it over the holiday. While
she had never personally been involved in a situation in which a claim was resolved at this speed,
she did not have an opinion as to whether the turnaround time in this instance was out of the
ordinary. Habte explained that in those instances where she found the back-up for a claimed
857 The Board meeting was a telephone meeting and Todman, May and Knox were present
on the call. Todman Dep. 51:20-52:2.
expense or subcontractor charge to be inadequate, she backed that expense out of the invoice and
left it to be resolved in January.858
Habte explained that DCHE served as the “administrator” on the projects, managing the
finance and budget aspects, but not the construction. DCHE had no responsibility for tracking the
expenditures against amounts budgeted or appropriated in any particular fiscal year for the
individual parks; it was monitoring the construction budget that had been provided by DMPED
and Banneker for each park. Habte’s role consisted of reviewing the invoices to ensure the
sufficiency of the documentation and comparing the amounts charged for each project against its
individual budget. Banneker was supposed to review its subcontractors’ invoices in the first
instance, and Habte made it clear that it was DMPED that had the responsibility for approving
858 The documents provided by DCHA include lengthy emails from Habte to Banneker in
which she asked detailed questions about the invoices and requested additional documentation
and verification. See e.g, Ex. 283, E-mail from Asmara Habte to Carol Rajaram and Duane
Oates, Banneker Ventures (Dec. 23, 2009 3:00 PM EST), in which for each park, she asked,
“please provide supporting documents for Liberty’s reimbursement request.” While some of the
support was provided, see Ex. 284, e-mail exchanges between Asmara Habte and Antwoine
McCoy regarding “DPR…Questions” (Jul. 20, Jul. 21, Sep. 1, 2009), the documents also include
e-mails from Karim pressing for payment and claiming that he had been “promised” a check on
December 24, as well as an e-mail refusing to provide Habte with anything more. See, e.g. Ex.
285, e-mail exchanges between Banneker and Asmara Habte (Dec. 23, 2009); Ex. 286, e-mail
exchanges between Banneker and Adrianne Todman (Dec. 23, 2009). (Karim stated, with respect
to reimbursables: “we will not be sending you additional information. Since the work has ended
we consider all past invoices old and expect no further delays;” with respect to subcontractor
invoices: “By our submission of the sub-invoices to DCHE, we have signed off and approved all
of them … we are not going to go thru all of the invoices and physically sign them;” with respect
to LEAD’s invoices: “We would not have invoiced you if we didn’t have LEAD’s deliverables.
We will not provide you any additional information ….” See Ex. 285.) When Banneker grew
frustrated with Habte, it went over her head and emailed Todman and May directly. “Ms.
Todman, Asmara has everything she needs…” See Ex. 286. Habte explained that, ultimately,
Banneker provided some of the missing supporting documentation in invoice #9. She also
indicated that the unused portions of any amounts that had been advanced in the early invoices
for permits were deducted from the payment Banneker received in December.
the invoices and confirming that the work billed for was satisfactorily performed.859 Dwyer
confirmed this: “Generally, our review is administrative in nature. In terms of certification of
acceptance of the work product … Jacqui [Glover] is the project manager for this project.”860
DCHE did not make any sort of independent analysis of the reasonableness of fees being charged
by Banneker’s subcontractors, nor did it ascertain whether services or work product referenced in
the invoices had actually been provided.861
Habte was aware that by invoice #4, when Banneker began breaking its invoices out by
park, the total project management fees claimed in the invoices exceeded the $168,000 monthly
amount specified in the contract. She questioned Karim about this, and he attributed the higher
859 Interview with Asmara Habte.
860 Joint Roundtable (Jan. 8, 2010) 38:6-9.
861 Interview with Asmara Habte. The timeline surrounding the December payment raises
questions about how thoroughly Glover considered the November invoice. DCHE could not
process invoices #5 – #8 in December without DMPED’s express approval, and the e-mail traffic
indicates that the 278-page invoice #7 for November was transmitted to Jacqueline Glover at
5:48 p.m. on December 22. See Ex. 287, E-mail from Asmara Habte to Jacquelyn Glover (EOM)
(Dec. 22, 2009 5:48 PM EST) When Glover hadn’t responded by midday on the 24th, Habte
emailed her and indicated that DCHE was prepared to pay $932,181. Glover was traveling, and
she emailed back her approval from her car ten minutes later. Ex. 288, E-mail from Jacquelyn
Glover to Asmara Habte (Dec. 24, 2009 12:38 PM EST). She testified that she was sure that she
reviewed the material “at some point” in her office previously, but she could not recall when she
did so or how long it took. Glover Dep. 239:10-13. Even when Glover was reviewing the earlier
invoices on a more leisurely schedule, she relied heavily upon Banneker when looking at charges
from the sub-contractors. “I’d look at the invoice, see what they were billing for and confirm
with the project manager that this work was in place.” Glover Dep. 158:12-14.) When she
noticed that LEAD’s invoices for the surveying were high, “I talked with Banneker about the
price and what it was for. I can’t recall exactly what was discussed, but they obviously produced
enough justification for me to approve of the invoice.” Id. at 161:11-162:3. In other words, the
investigation revealed that DCHE deferred to DMPED to approve the expenditure of funds, and
DMPED deferred to Banneker, so despite the multiple layers of review, in the end, there was
little oversight of the project manager.
fees to the fact that the scope of the work had increased.862 Even though no change orders had
been executed, because DMPED approved the invoices, DCHA paid them. The December 24
settlement thus included project management fees of $242,212 for September (invoice #5),
$242,712 for October (invoice #6), and $242,212 for November (invoice #7).863
Debra Toothman had been recruited by former DCHA Executive Director Michael Kelly
to serve as the agency’s Chief Financial Officer. After the invoices were reviewed and approved
by DCHE, they ultimately landed in her office for payment. She was out of the office on
December 24, and was not involved in the efforts being made to process the invoices until she
received a telephone call from Quincy Randolph, her payroll manager, who informed her that he
was being asked to cut a check for a settlement agreement but that he had not even seen the
862 As early as July, Banneker was billing for work performed on parks that were not part of
the DMPED/DCHA MOU or the Banneker contract, and it was submitting those invoices to
DCHE. Karim explained to Habte that change orders would be forthcoming, DMPED approved
the invoices, and the invoices were paid. Ex. 289 E-mail from Omar A. Karim to Aaron
Buchman (Sep. 1, 2009 11:03 AM EST).
863 See Ex. 2, DCHE charts showing a breakdown of Banneker paid invoices.
invoices yet.864 Toothman told him not to do anything until he heard from her further, and she
telephoned Todman. Toothman informed Todman that she was out of the office and that there
was no one present with the clearance to approve the check. She asked Todman whether anyone
on the DCHA Board had been made aware of the payment, and she believes that Todman
indicated that the Chairman (May) was informed. When she was asked who had authorized the
payment, Todman informed Toothman that the DCHE Board would be meeting later that
morning to approve the settlement.865 Toothman asked Todman if anyone had notified the
Council, and according to Toothman, Todman told her that it was not necessary to do so.866
864 Todman stated that she stepped out of the meeting on December 21 to call Toothman
when she was asked how quickly DCHA could pay. According to Todman, she said, “We’re
talking about settlement,” and Toothman agreed that she would just need a call from Todman
when it was time to pay. Todman Dep. Notes. Todman also testified that she specifically notified
Toothman about the upcoming payment prior to December 24, but the email she sent to
Toothman on December 23 was transmitted at 10:52 p.m. Ex. 290, E-mail from Adrianne
Todman to Debra Kay Toothman (Dec. 23, 2009 10:52:35 PM EST) (“Tomorrow we will need
to process the first of two settlement checks to Banneker…. Hans has drafted a work in place
settlement document. Once I approve it in the am, I need the check to be cut by COB… I need to
know who to work with in your shop once you have given them direction so this person(s) sticks
around until this is done.” At 10:15 a.m. on the 24th, Toothman asked via email: “Adrianne on
who’s authority [sic] are you paying these invoices did the board authorize a settlement
payment?” Ex. 291, E-mail from Debra Kay Toothman to Adrianne Todman (Dec. 24, 2009
10:15 AM EST). Todman replied: “DCHE Board is meeting later this am to approve this portion
of the settlement.” Id. Thus Todman’s instruction to Toothman that an employee needed to be
available to process the check preceded any meeting of the DCHE Board.
865 Interview with Debra Kay Toothman, former Chief Financial Officer, DCHA (July 22,
866 Todman acknowledged that Toothman did ask her if they were planning to advise the
Council, and that she responded that advising the Council was not part of what they usually did
at DCHA. She did not recall whether she specifically stated that it was “not necessary.” She also
said that when Councilmember Thomas asked her about the payment in January, she “apologized
to him that he felt slighted,” but it was not done “given our normal course of duty.” Todman
Toothman informed Todman that it had been her plan to release her employees at noon
for the holiday. She also pointed out that the banks were going to close early on Thursday for
Christmas Eve and remain closed on Christmas Day, so there was no need to cut the check
before Monday.867 In her interview, Toothman said that she asked Todman to wait and Todman
refused. Todman did not offer any reasons why the settlement needed to be completed that day,
but she stated that the check had to be issued, and that Toothman’s staff could not leave the
building until it was done.868 Since Todman was her immediate supervisor, Toothman
867 Ex. 292, E-mail from Debra Kay Toothman to Adrianne Todman (Dec. 24, 2009 12:23
868 Todman did not recall that Toothman asked her to wait. She disagreed with any
suggestion that she directed Toothman to cut the check over her objection, saying [in the
unrecorded portion of the interview],”there was no time that Toothman said ‘I’m not going to cut
the check,’ and I said, ‘yes, you are going to cut the check.’ That dialogue did not occur.” While
Toothman did not recount an express refusal on her part either, she stated in her interview that
she asked Todman to wait, and reported in her testimony to the Council that Todman rejected her
suggestion that they notify the Council.
Q: [C]ould you have said no, you wanted to wait and look at them further?
A: (Toothman): I express[ed] my concern about the invoices … to Miss Todman.
And I ask[ed] if she thought that we should bring – that we should at least
notify the Council that we were about to make this payment. [S]he told me we
did not need to notify the Council because of the previous Council action, we
were going to have to settle the payments so we could return the money.
Joint Roundtable (Jan. 8, 2010) 333:16-334:8.
Toothman testified before the Council that Todman ordered that her employees remain in the
building, and that she did not have authority to disobey the Executive Director’s instruction.
Todman agreed that she was the one who gave the order that the employees could not leave the
building until the matter was concluded.
Q: Why did you cut the payment? …Why did you agree to give the sign off?
(footnote continued on next page)
authorized her employee to sign the checks at around 3:00 that afternoon with the understanding
that a complete package of supporting information and a Board resolution would be on her desk
on Monday morning, December 28.869 Toothman was sufficiently concerned by these events that
she made an unsuccessful attempt to reach Councilmember Michael Brown’s staff that
afternoon.870 She described the speed of the settlement in this case to be “unusual” and the order
she received to be “unique” in her entire professional career.
To the Council, which was then engaged in its own investigation of how the DPR
projects had been handled, and which had just voted to disapprove the Banneker contract, the
Christmas eve checks to Banneker were extremely troubling. The effect was to exacerbate the
Council’s suspicions that the process was being manipulated to benefit Banneker. From our
review of the all of the facts and circumstances, the settlement appears to have been a good faith
A (Toothman): Because it was Christmas Eve and my staff couldn’t leave the
building until [it was done]. [W]e needed to make sure that this was rectified
and this check was cut before my staff left the building.
Q: Who said people can’t leave until that’s done?
A (Todman): I did. …
Joint Roundtable (Jan. 8, 2010) 362:17-363:14.
869 Interview with Toothman; Ex. 278. Toothman was still waiting for the information
Monday afternoon. “These invoices were processed in good faith that I would have the
documentation on my desk first thing this morning. I have not yet received them. If they were
not yet complete, how were you able to establish the proper payment amount?” Ex. 293, E-mail
from Debra Kay Toothman to Asmara Habte (Dec. 28, 2009 3:52 PM EST). The e-mail traffic
reveals that much was still unsettled when people returned to work after the New Year. Ex. 294,
E-mail exchange between Asmara Habte and Duane W. Oates (Jan. 5, 2010). Vendors were still
asking DCHE why they had not been paid, see Ex. 295, E-mail exchange between Asmara Habte
and Lawrence Dwyer (Jan. 4, 2010); Habte was still seeking documentation from Karim, see Ex.
296, E-mail from Asmara Habte to Omar Karim (Jan. 6, 2010 4:28 PM EST); and Karim was
still seeking clarification about how the payments had been calculated, see Ex. 297, e-mail from
Omar A. Karim to Asmara Habte (Jan. 7, 2010 11:33 AM EST).
870 Interview with Amy Bellanca, staff member for Councilmember Michael Brown (Sep.
effort on the part of DCHA to pay for work that had been performed and to bring the agency’s
participation in the matter to a conclusion. However ill-advised it may have been from a political
perspective to expedite payment without broader consultation, we did not find any wrongdoing
that warrants further investigation.
But that conclusion does not express unqualified approval of the way the December
settlement was handled. In the absence of any exigent circumstances compelling the three-day
turnaround, DCHA should have taken the time to think through the implications of the payment
and the settlement agreement, and it should have solicited input from – or at the very least,
notified – the many interested parties. Taking more time could have improved both the quality of
the process and the result.
The Settlement Agreement between Banneker, Regan, and DCHE provides that Banneker
and DCHE are parties to the July 14, 2009 contract and to the change order dated December 9,
2009, 871 and that DCHE entered into the contract “as the agent” for DMPED. It describes the
Council’s emergency legislation cutting off the flow of funds to DCHA and the stop work order,
but it fails to mention the Council’s December 15, 2009 action invalidating the contract. The
Agreement states that Banneker entered into contracts with vendors and consultants “in
performance of the Contract,” and it expresses a desire to resolve disputes concerning payment
of the invoices without resort to litigation. It specifies that invoices #1 – #4 have been paid in
full, and that DCHE will pay $2.5 million for invoices #5 – #8 on December 24, 2009. The
agreement contains language in which the parties release each other from all claims arising out
871 The Agreement states that it is entered into by and between Banneker Ventures, LLC, and
Regan Associates, LLC, “a joint venture,” which is referred to thereafter in the document as
“Banneker” or “Contractor.” It then asserts that “Banneker” entered into the contract with
DCHE, but neither Regan nor a joint venture including Regan is a signatory to the contract.
of invoices #1 – #8, but it also specifies that invoice #7 has only been paid in part, and that
further negotiations over the balance owed under invoice #7 are not precluded.872 Thus, the rush
to complete the deal before the questions concerning invoice #7 had been conclusively resolved
resulted in a one-sided contract that purports to be a settlement agreement and complete mutual
release, but has a significant gap in it favoring Banneker. If the justification for the settlement
was to bring the matter to a conclusion, executing an agreement and issuing a payment before all
of the issues were resolved did not accomplish that goal.873
The settlement raises other concerns, including the fact that the reasons that were publicly
advanced for the settlement payment do not fully square with what took place. The witnesses
cited the need to pay the subcontractors who had performed in good faith as their primary
motivation: “I was only interested in funding for payment for work that had been done. I was
focused on the vendors who hadn’t been paid.”874 Similarly, Jannarone asserted:
… my position, the way I felt about it is if the work was completed and we had
the work and they performed, then they should be paid. … And … when I mean
“they” I mean all of the consultants. … I understand the position that they wanted
to stop Banneker. I understand that. I understand what all this is about. I do, and
that’s fine. But for a consultant who is a subcontract to Banneker who did their
work not to get paid, that’s not fine.875
But the settlement went well beyond paying the subcontractors. The project management fees
billed by Banneker in invoices #5, #6, and #7 – which far exceeded the monthly fee set out in the
872 Ex. 276.
873 Indeed, by January of 2010, DCHA attorneys were already referring to the December 24
agreement as a “partial” settlement and release. Ex. 298, E-mail from Andrea Powell to Ben
Miller, Sharon W. Geno (Jan. 14, 2010 12:57 PM).
874 Todman Dep. Notes.
875 Jannarone Dep. 149:21-150:10.
contract – were paid in full, and DCHE also paid the mark-up on the consultants’ invoices,
including invoices that themselves had been tabled to await further documentation.876
Moreover, no one seems to have seriously thought through whether a settlement was
appropriate at all at that juncture and under what terms. Todman justified the payment to the
Council by explaining that the payments were made pursuant to the terms of the Banneker
contract: “Under the contract between DCHE and Banneker, DCHE was responsible to pay for
the costs incurred by Banneker … and the fee for acting as program manager.”877 But by the time
the invoices were being processed, the contract had already been rendered void by the Council.
At that point, under the analysis applied by the Attorney General, any fee for Banneker should
have been calculated on quantum meruit principles only.878 DCHE made no effort to determine
the reasonable value of the services actually rendered by Banneker from September through
November, and instead, it paid the management fees claimed in the invoices in full, including the
mark-up on consultants that was the subject of much consternation at the Council hearings.
While the DCHA Interim Executive Director cannot be faulted personally for failing to
anticipate this legal analysis, a more broad-based, thorough, unhurried consideration of the
unique legal circumstances surrounding the contract was warranted.
The Settlement Agreement recites that Banneker and DCHE were parties not only to the
original contract, but also the December 9, 2009 change order. Yet, the payment that went out
the door under the auspices of the Settlement Agreement did not incorporate the modifications
876 Ex. 299, E-mail from Asmara Habte to Omar Karim, Carol Rajaram and Duane Oates
(Dec. 24, 2009 10:04 PM EST).
877 Ex. 300, Letter from Adrianne Todman to Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. (Jan. 7,
878 Ex. 120, Letter from Peter J. Nickles (Oct. 28, 2010) at 2, n.5 and 8.
contained in the change order. DCHE accepted Banneker’s application of the 9% markup to its
consultants’ invoices even though the mark-up had been reduced to 5% in the change order
executed by both parties.879 And the fixed fee paid on invoices #5 – #7 exceeded not only the
original $168,000 per month, but also the increased amount for the larger scope agreed to in the
change order: $179,000 per month.880 So even if there was an appropriate legal basis to pay
outstanding invoices according to the terms of the contract, or the terms of the contract as
modified by the change order, the amount that was approved on December 24 was neither.
E. The July Settlement
On July 1, 2010, the District entered into a second settlement agreement with Banneker,
providing for additional payments totaling $550,000. Questions have been raised about whether
this settlement was the result of improper favoritism toward Banneker, and whether it
prematurely released potential claims against Banneker while the investigation was still ongoing.
After the Council learned about the July 1 agreement, it took a number of actions intended to
stop or postpone payment of the settlement amount. As a result, the payment has not been made,
and Banneker has filed suit against the District seeking to compel payment.881 This suit is
pending, and we do not express an opinion on the issues before the Superior Court or any other
legal issues, such as the extent of the releases included in the July settlement agreement.
However, to answer the questions posed to us by the Committee, we have reviewed materials
relating to the settlement negotiations, including settlement communications between the parties,
879 Ex. 301, Change Order No. 1 to Contract for Services (Dec. 9, 2009), §9.A.II.
880 See Ex. 2.
881 Banneker Ventures, LLC v. District of Columbia, Case No. 2010 CA 006067 B, filed
Aug. 11, 2010 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
which were provided by Attorney General Peter Nickles with the consent of Banneker, and
interviewed key participants.
As noted above, the December 24 settlement agreement addressed Banneker’s invoices
#5 through #8. Based on discussions at a meeting between the parties on December 21, Banneker
understood that claims relating to the close-out of the contract were to be separately
negotiated.882 On December 15, 2009 (the same date as the December settlement agreement), the
Council passed an act expressly disapproving the Banneker project management contract.883 The
act went into effect when it was signed by the Mayor on January 4, 2010. Banneker nevertheless
continued to pursue a further settlement for contract close-out amounts, and on January 5, 2010,
submitted a settlement proposal to Attorney General Nickles.884 Banneker asserted that its
contract, as amended on December 9, 2009, was still in force, and suggested that the correct
course was for the District to terminate the contract for convenience and to pay Banneker an
additional $2,250,000 in fees under the contract, plus unspecified sums for consultant payments,
reimbursable costs, and “Reasonable Fees Related to Shut Down.” Banneker indicated that some
of the “reasonable fees” would be in return for Banneker’s assignment to OPEFM of Banneker’s
rights under the architects’ contracts.
The District, however, took the position that the Council disapproval action rendered the
project management contract void ab initio, which would make contract-based remedies
882 Ex. 302, Letter from A. Scott Bolden to Peter J. Nickles (Jan. 5, 2010).
883 D.C. Act 18-258.
884 Ex. 302, at 2.
885 Accordingly, on January 26, 2010, Banneker submitted a revised settlement
proposal that purported to seek recovery in quantum meruit. Banneker’s request totaled
$2,230,309.00. It included a demand for $975,000 “to facilitate the assignment of the A/E
Contracts,” on the theory that Banneker – and not the District – owned the rights to the
architects’ designs for 9 of the parks, plus all designs created by Liberty Engineering &
Design.886 Banneker demanded $809,247 for shut down costs allegedly incurred by Banneker
and Regan Associates for office costs, staff payroll, staff severance costs, legal fees and other
expenses. And Banneker added a 25% lost profit amount of $446,062. The next day, Banneker
submitted invoice # 9, covering additional costs for services performed before work stopped as
of November 30, 2010.887
The Attorney General responded on February 18, 2010, with a counter-offer of $325,000.
Mr. Nickles noted that the District rejected Banneker’s claims under invoice #9, as well as
Banneker’s claims for lost profits and legal fees.888 While he maintained that the District already
owned the intellectual property rights to the architects and engineers’ designs, he indicated that
“to the extent that your clients may fairly dispute that position, an amount has been factored into
the counteroffer to reflect a value of assigning the contracts.”889 The counteroffer also reflected
885 See Ex. 303, Letter from A. Scott Bolden to Peter Nickles (Jan. 26, 2010), at 1; Ex. 120,
886 Ex. 303, at Attachment A.
887 See Ex. 304, Letter from Peter Nickles to A. Scott Bolden (Feb. 18, 2010).
889 Id. at 2.
reductions to the direct costs claimed by Banneker and Regan “to account for expenses not
reasonably recoverable in quantum meruit.”890
One week later, Banneker, through its counsel, sent cease and desist letters to seven of
the firms that had provided architectural services on the DPR capital projects. Banneker asserted
that under the language of the architects’ contracts, Banneker owned the project drawings and
other “instruments of service” prepared by the architects.891 Banneker stated that if the architects
did not stop providing the District with access to project drawings, Banneker would file suit
against them. In response to Banneker’s action, by letter dated February 26, the Attorney General
demanded that Banneker withdraw the cease and desist letters, stating that failure to do so would
end the settlement discussions.892 The District also sought to address the concerns of the
architects by agreeing to indemnify them against potential claims from Banneker. It entered
indemnification agreements covering the work on 6 of the projects. This required the District to
book the potential indemnification amounts (approximately $4.15 million) against the project
Banneker’s claim to ownership of the drawings was based on the terms of the contracts it
executed with the architects, which provided that the “Owner” of the project would own all of
the drawings and other documents prepared by the architect, but defined the term “Owner” to be
891 See, e.g., Ex. 305, Letter from A. Scott Bolden to Ronnie McGhee, R. McGhee and
Associates (Feb. 25, 2010).
892 Ex. 306, Letter from Peter Nickles to A. Scott Bolden (Feb. 26, 2010).
893 Interview with Peter J. Nickles; Ex. 120.
Banneker Ventures, and not the city.894 While it was in the District’s interest to provide that the
architects did not own the drawings, we do not believe that the District ever intended to make
Banneker the owner of its consultants’ work product.895 Without expressing an opinion as to the
correct interpretation of the architects’ contracts, we believe that if the design procurement
process had been better managed by the District, Banneker would not have been permitted to
include the language it subsequently relied on as establishing ownership.
Rather than responding to the Attorney General’s February 26 letter, Banneker opened
another front in its demand for payment. On March 11, 2010, Banneker submitted a “Request for
Final Payment and Contracting Officer’s Final Decision” to Larry Dwyer of DCHE. Banneker
894 See, e.g., Ex. 307, Banneker Contract with Bowie Gridley Architects, PLLC, § 1.5
(identifying Banneker as the “Owner”) and § 126.96.36.199 (“Drawings, specifications and other
documents, including those in electronic form, prepared by the Architect and the Architect’s
consultants are Instruments of Service for use solely with respect to this Project. The Owner shall
be deemed the owner of the Instruments of Service and shall retain in perpetuity all common
law, statutory and other reserved rights, including the copyright.”). However, the contract also
expressly acknowledged that Banneker was a contractor to DCHE, that Banneker was not the
owner of the property or the project to be constructed, and that “DCHE and the District of
Columbia are intended third party beneficiaries of this Agreement.” § 1.1.4. The contract further
expressly acknowledged that the money to be used to pay the architect would be coming from
the D.C. government, and that Banneker had no obligation to pay the architect unless and until
Banneker received payment from the District. § 188.8.131.52. Banneker’s other contracts with
architects have similar provisions.
895 There appears to be no valid reason for Banneker to have deemed itself to be the owner
of the drawings, and Banneker’s assumption of that role is inconsistent with the terms of its
project management contract with DCHE. Banneker’s contract states, “In the event that this
Contract is terminated for any reason, then within ten (10) days after such termination, the
Contractor shall make available to Enterprises [DCHE] all Work Product, including as-builts,
original tracings, plans, maps, computerized programs, reports data and material which have
been prepared as the result of this Contract directly by the Contractor’s personnel or as to which
the Contractor has the legal right to copy. The Contractor may keep copies for its records.” Ex.
80, ¶ 19, at 12.
sought $2,277,748.12,896 “representing the reasonable costs incurred by Banneker to facilitate
contract close-out following the de facto termination for convenience of the Amended Contract
by DCHE.”897 Banneker noted that the parties had been engaged in discussions seeking to
resolve all issues remaining after the December 24 settlement, but “these discussions did not
result in a resolution of this matter. For this reason, Banneker now files this Claim seeking a
formal Contracting Officer’s Final Decision regarding Banneker’s Claim for compensation in
accordance with applicable procurement rules, regulations and the Amended Contract.”898
Banneker itemized the amounts allegedly due as follows: (1) $112,765.50 for unpaid portions of
its fixed fee; (2) $112,485.62 for additional amounts due for work done before November 30,
2009; (3) $827,497 for reimbursable costs including staff severance, document copying and legal
fees, plus $250,000 for “reimbursable opportunity costs;” and (4) $975,000 to compensate
Banneker for its ownership rights in project drawings.
We are not aware of any action taken on Banneker’s claim by Dwyer or DCHE. Instead,
according to the chronology provided by the Attorney General, a settlement meeting was held on
the day after the claim was submitted (that is, March 12, 2010). After further negotiations,
Banneker accepted the District’s offer of $550,000 on March 31. But Banneker then claimed it
was owed additional amounts over and above the $550,000 sum, and made other demands as
896 The amount of the claim is stated differently on different pages of Banneker’s
submission, but the total of the items included is $2,277,748.12.
897 Ex. 308, Letter from Omar Karim, Banneker Ventures, to Larry Dwyer, DCHE (Mar. 11,
2010) at 1.
898 Id. at 4.
well.899 By letter dated April 26, 2010, the Attorney General rescinded the District’s settlement
offer and advised Banneker to “take whatever steps you deem appropriate to pursue your
claims.”900 Banneker responded by requesting that the parties continue to settle for $550,000.901
After several months of negotiations and exchanges of drafts, the settlement agreement was
executed by Banneker and Regan Associates on June 28, by DCHE on June 30, and by DCHA
and the Attorney General on July 1, 2010.902
The settlement agreement provides for the $550,000 settlement amount to be paid in two
payments: the first check, for $264,863.21, was to be issued within 10 business days of execution
of the agreement, and the second, for $285,136.79, was to be issued after Banneker had paid and
obtained lien releases from certain architects, engineers, consultants and subcontractors
identified in Attachment A to the agreement.903 As part of the agreement, Banneker
acknowledged that the District owned the drawings and other documents prepared by the
architects and engineers for the projects, and covenanted not to sue the architects and engineers
over intellectual property rights.904
The release given to Banneker and Regan provides as follows:
899 Ex. 309, Letter from Peter J. Nickles to Robert P. Trout (Jul. 12, 2010) with a chronology
of the “Banneker Settlement” attached. The chronology shows that Banneker claimed additional
amounts were owed Banneker on April 14 and April 23.
900 Ex. 310, Letter from Peter J. Nickles to Lawrence S. Sher (Apr. 26, 2010).
901 Ex. 309, showing in the chronology that Banneker’s response was on April 28.
902 Ex. 311, Settlement Agreement and Release (Jul. 1, 2010).
903 Id. at ¶ 1. Liberty Engineering & Design is listed on Attachment A as being owed
904 Id. at ¶ 3.
… the District hereby remises, releases and forever discharges Banneker and
Regan, each of their successors and assigns, administrators, executors, and any
other person claiming by, through, or under Banneker or Regan, of and from all
agreements, actions, cases, causes of action, claims, compromises, controversies,
costs, damages, debts, demands, disputes, expenses, judgments, liabilities,
payments, promises, and suits of any nature whatsoever, including attorneys’ fees,
whether or not known, relating to, arising under, or in connection with Banneker’s
or Regan’s provision, under the Contract, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, for project
management services for capital projects to the District or from the District’s
administration of the Contract through the Effective Date; the intention hereof
being to release Banneker and Regan completely, finally and absolutely from all
liabilities, arising wholly or partially from Banneker’s or Regan’s provision,
under the Contract, of project management services for capital projects and other
services to the District or from the District’s administration of the Contract.905
Peter Nickles described this settlement as one that was fair to the District, and that
accomplished his objectives of relieving the city of the amounts it had to accrue for the
indemnifications of the architects, and encouraging the architects to work with OPEFM to
complete the projects.906 Various councilmembers, however, raised questions about the
settlement as soon as it came to their attention, and the Council quickly passed emergency and
temporary legislation intended to prevent payment of the settlement amount.
One of the Council’s key concerns was whether it was appropriate to release claims
against Banneker before this investigation was completed. The Attorney General disagrees that
this is the result of the settlement agreement:
I have emphasized that in the past both in correspondence with the Council and
Mr. Trout that the settlement agreement does not release Banneker or its
individual officers from potential civil or criminal fraud if the appropriate
authorities believe that such action is warranted. Indeed, counsel for Banneker
agrees. See the attached October 21 letter from Lawrence S. Sher, Esq., in which
he states his view “that paragraph 7 of the settlement agreement does not in itself
905 Id. at ¶ 7.
906 Interview with Peter J. Nickles.
preclude the authorities from seeking to prosecute the settling parties in the future
for criminal or civil fraud.”907
As a result of the Council’s actions, however, the District has not yet issued checks for
the settlement amounts. In October of 2010, Banneker filed suit to enforce the settlement
agreement. As of March 1, 2011, the litigation had yet to be resolved. As noted above, we do not
express a view on any of the matters at issue in the litigation or on the scope of the releases in the
agreement. We do conclude, however, that the evidence of the conduct of the settlement
negotiations does not support a claim that the settlement was improperly engineered in order to
benefit Banneker, and that the circumstances surrounding the negotiation of its terms do not
warrant further investigation.
907 Ex. 120, at 5 (footnote omitted).
The resolution appointing the Special Counsel directed him to conduct an investigation in
order to 1) “determine if the circumstances surrounding the transfer of capital funds, the
subsequent awarding of contracts, or the approval and expenditure of funds warrant further
review of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia or any other investigative or
enforcement agency,” and 2) “make any recommendations that he may have for any necessary
changes to District laws.”908 With respect to making those recommendations, the Special
Counsel did not take on the task of drafting specific proposed legislation and regulations, or
recommending particular policy choices, but rather, we reviewed what took place with an eye
towards identifying systemic issues exposed during the investigation that the Council may wish
A. Legislative Recommendations
1. It became clear during our investigation that the transfer of funds from DPR to
other agencies was largely motivated by a broadly shared perception that the District’s
procurement procedures were not well suited for large public construction projects, particularly
when there was a public interest in getting stalled projects moving and completed on an
expedited basis. As the administration cast about for the appropriate procurement agency, it
looked at one point or another to OPEFM, DMPED, and DCHA/DCHE. What resulted was a
multi-agency project involving the successive transfer of funds and the layering of different
entities with management authority, blurring the lines of responsibility. In this instance, the
908 Ex. 5, Special Council Resolution.
dollars moved everywhere but the buck stopped nowhere. The result was substantial waste and
the opportunity for improper practices to go unchecked.
DRES has been tasked since 2008 with handling construction procurement and project
management for the District and for agencies without their own procurement authority or project
management capacity, but DPR and the administration did not choose to use DRES for the DPR
capital projects. We therefore recommend that the Council undertake a thorough analysis of
construction contracting in the District, to examine issues including the following: (1) whether
DRES’s policies, procedures, budgets and staffing are appropriate for its role; (2) whether
additional agencies should be given independent procurement authority; (3) whether agencies
without procurement authority should be permitted to obtain construction services from agencies
other than DRES, including independent agencies such as DCHA; (4) if so, whether the PPA
should apply to procurements conducted by independent agencies on behalf of executive
agencies; and (5) whether there are other changes to the District’s construction procurement and
project management policies that could increase the speed with which major projects are
accomplished while maintaining appropriate budgetary controls and project oversight.
2. The investigation also revealed that while MOUs between agencies were not
unusual or unlawful, and there had been prior MOUs transferring responsibility for construction
projects to DCHA, the Walker-Jones, Deanwood, and DPR projects were of an entirely different
order of magnitude. Much of the consternation that arose in the fall of 2009 was attributable to
Council members’ surprise and frustration that such large amounts of funds had been transferred
from or to agencies under their supervision without their knowledge. To the extent that it is
appropriate for one agency to reach out to another agency to obtain services, we recommend that
the Council should consider whether additional reporting or review should be required for MOUs
involving more than a certain threshold amount, such as $5 million dollars.
3. The revelations about the DPR capital projects prompted the issuance of a formal
Opinion of the Attorney General on October 23, 2009, addressing the question of whether
DCHA, an independent agency, was bound by the provision in the Home Rule Act calling for
Council approval of contracts over $1 million. DCHA has acknowledged that it is bound by that
opinion, which by its terms addresses a situation when the contract involves the use of District
funds. DCHA has not acknowledged that it is obliged to satisfy the Council approval
requirement when non-District funds are being used. In the future DCHA might therefore enter
into a contract involving non-District funds over $1,000,000, yet fail to seek Council approval.
Apart from whatever concern this might cause the Council once it learned of DCHA’s actions,
the contract itself would be at risk of being declared invalid if it were determined that DCHA
was obliged to comply with the Council approval requirement even when non-District funds
were being used. To avoid this possibility, the Council should clarify the obligation of all
independent agencies, including DCHA, to satisfy the Council approval requirement regardless
of whether District funds are being used. If the Council determines that a particular independent
agency, or all of them, should be exempt from the Council approval requirement when the
contract involves expenditure of non-District funds, it should take the necessary steps to establish
the appropriate legislative exemption for such contracts or otherwise clarify the scope of the
4. The investigation also uncovered conduct that frustrated the intent behind the
Small, Local, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Development and Assistance Act. While
the act by its terms governs prime contractors engaged directly by the District, and not
subcontractors retained by project managers or general contractors, the Council should consider
whether to require city contractors to monitor and verify that subcontractors selected on the basis
of their CBE status are in fact directing the appropriate percentage of the work and the dollars to
B. Referral to the United States Attorney
In response to the question posed in the resolution appointing the Special Counsel, it is
our conclusion that certain of the circumstances surrounding the DPR capital projects warrant
referral for further review by the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. In
particular, we believe that LEAD’s response to the engineering RFQ, Banneker’s award of the
engineering contracts to LEAD, Banneker’s selection of general contractors, and the financial
relationships between Omar Karim, Sinclair Skinner, and their various business entities should
be the subject of further inquiry. We also recommend that the Council refer for further inquiry
the question of whether Karim and Skinner provided false testimony in the course of this
investigation. The documents and testimony that we were able to obtain raised questions that
could not be satisfactorily answered with the tools we had available. We express no opinion as
to the likely outcome of any investigation.