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Fenty seeks to modernize D.C. purchasing rules

It's certainly not as sexy as subpoenas, but how the District spends its money on goods and services is something all taxpayers should care about.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) held court this morning in the lobby of the hulking One Judiciary Square building to announce a complete rewrite of the city's rules for determining what the government buys, from whom and at what price.

David Gragan, the city's procurement chief, has spent more than a year trying to modernize and streamline the 35-year-old law to make it more transparent and flexible. The legislation, which will be submitted to the D.C. Council, generally tries to speed up the process and includes the promotion of environmentally friendly goods and more training for city workers.

"It's my job to demand that we move as fast as humanly possible and that we do it in an open and transparent process," said Fenty, who was surrounded by a crowd of procurement staff.

A reporter asked Fenty whether the proposed overhaul was in response to the Council's probe into contracts for recreation construction projects that were awarded to people with close ties to him. The mayor said the new rules had been in the works for the past year-and-a-half, and that the contracts in question were handled by the independent D.C. Housing Authority, not the executive branch.

By Ann Marimow  |  February 4, 2010; 12:47 PM ET
Categories:  Ann E. Marimow , D.C. Council , Mayor Fenty  
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Comments

The DC Housing Authority is independent of whom? The mayor, the city council? How does the authority get to write checks over the wishes of the city council for projects that are not under its perveiw?
Who elects the head of this authority? Is he a city employee, can he be fired?
This whole city government should be investigated by the feds under the RICO statue as an ongoing criminal enterprise.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | February 4, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Under any other circumstances, this would be an unimpeachable move forward, and worthy of unbridled applause. And I want to believe Gragan - really, I do. But one can't help but wonder, with Fenty in charge, whether "modernize and streamline" really means "make it easier for me to steer the goodies to my buddies". I hope the Council invests the time and effort to make sure this proposal is indeed what it is being touted as.

Posted by: nan_lynn | February 4, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

nan_lynn: Your comment is on the money. ?I agree with you 100%.

Posted by: candycane1 | February 5, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

@Jimof1913

"The DC Housing Authority is independent of whom?"

Everyone. The authority was set up to construct and maintain the city's public housing and manage the Section 8 voucher system as required by Federal law.

"How does the authority get to write checks over the wishes of the city council for projects that are not under its purview?"

The Authority is a non-profit organization; it writes checks out of its own bank account. The organization receives the vast majority of its funding from rent paid by tenants and the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development. Therefore the city does not have direct operational control over the Authority's finances.

"Who elects the head of this authority? Is he a city employee, can he be fired?"

The Executive Director is hired by a 9-member board of commissioners: 1 is always the Deputy Mayor of Economic Development; 4 other members are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council; 3 commissioners are elected by residents of the public housing units; and the Metropolitan Central Labor Council appoints the final member. So to answer your question: no, the head of the authority is not a city employee and can only be fired by the board.

Posted by: alewis4 | February 5, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

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