Corbett orders staff to review 'integrity' of firms with turnpike contracts
The state will scrutinize the business ethics of 16 companies named in a scathing grand jury report alleging corruption at the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Gov. Tom Corbett said on Thursday.
Corbett took immediate action against one, ordering PennDOT to pull the plug on an $8.6 million deal with Denver-based Ciber Inc., the only firm the governor mentioned by name. The work will be rebid.
“Given the disturbing allegations raised by the turnpike investigation, we will carefully review these vendors to be certain that they meet the highest standards for ethical business operations,” Corbett said in a statement.
“It is imperative that vendors who perform services for the commonwealth clearly establish the integrity of their personnel and their procedures in order to demonstrate that any business relationships are in the best interest of the taxpayers of Pennsylvania,” Corbett said.
“We share the governor's focus on ethical business operations and we intend to cooperate fully with the integrity review,” Ciber spokeswoman Robin Caputo said in an email.
The other firms either could not be reached or did not return calls.
Corbett directed his office's lawyers to conduct an “integrity review” of the firms, focusing on their business and marketing practices. The turnpike said last month that it was reviewing the contracts.
Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, spokesman for Corbett's Office of General Counsel, called the review “a unique response to an unusual situation.”
Hagen-Frederiksen did not say if the review could result in companies being barred from working with state agencies. All can continue working for and seeking work with the state. It is unclear how a company's problems outside the state could affect the review.
In 2005, New Orleans awarded Ciber a consulting contract worth up to $5.5 million that later ballooned to up to $46.2 million, according to the Times-Picayune newspaper. A city official was fired and later convicted for taking kickbacks from a Ciber subcontractor, who was convicted of corruption.
Ciber secured $82 million in contracts with the Pennsylvania Turnpike from 2004 to 2008. The grand jury said former Ciber Vice President Dennis Miller, 51, of Harrisburg solicited campaign contributions from the company's subcontractors and gave gifts to turnpike executives.
Miller is one of eight former turnpike officials and vendors charged in the scandal.
In 2005, Ciber won a state job even though its $3.2 million bid was almost seven times that of the lowest bidder, the grand jury said. Within a year, turnpike officials increased that contract by $58.3 million, which the grand jury called “dramatic and unprecedented.”
The grand jury said Miller gave his daughter turnpike-related work that earned her more than $100 an hour. A witness testified she had “no experience whatsoever.”
A PennDOT office that oversees the issuing of contracts recommended in January hiring Ciber to provide project management office support. Corbett's office said PennDOT will not finalize that $8.6 million contract with Ciber.
Two weeks ago, PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar said of the Ciber deal: “This contract was competitively bid and followed all the formal standards of the competitive bidding process. ... Influence didn't factor into the decision.”
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh rallies for second year of Pirates magic
- Steelers film session: Harrison on the field often
- Tomlin: Penalties only one factor in Steelers’ loss
- Penn State notebook: Players get light workload during bye week
- Pitt joins national team looking to unravel traumatic brain injuries
- Police: Charges unwarranted for Yough shop class project
- Corbett to sign bill to help lower fatal overdoses
- Steelers are vowing to fix the costly penalties, lack of self-discipline
- Mental health facility won’t take Franklin Regional stabbing suspect as patient
- Prosecutors float possibility of jail time for former Justice Melvin
- Women sues over injuries she blames on Pittsburgh EMS