DuPage Co. (ECWd) -
One of many early tips we received from whistle blowers at the College of DuPage was in regards to Herricane Graphics, which included this statement:
“we must use Carla for relationship purposes even though her quotes had come in significantly higher.” (Carla, being Carla Burkhart, owner of Herricane Graphics and COD Foundation Board member) (As reported in March of 2015)
In a long series of articles we took you through step by step, document by document, building the case that Herricane Graphics was receiving preferential treatment as it related to her contracts and obligations outlined in those contracts, commonly refereed to as pay to play. (Click here to select from the long list of articles published on this matter)
The recent report from the Higher Learning Commission reported: "the team was advised that a contract with Herricane Graphics was entered into after the contract deadline. According to the internal auditor, this contract was therefore invalid." (HCL report page with the referenced info)
Looking at the Internal Audit report we now see just how accurate we have been in our reporting.
- "RESULTS: There is an issue with the RFP process but it is not clear if the outcome would be affected so I would recommend a further legal review."
I covered this RFP issue in my January 3rd article and the fact is, a 2014 contract to Herricane Graphics was entered into without ANY RFP and the Board approval document claimed it was for professional services! (Board approval document – No RFP or Bid)
The Internal Audit confirms: "In the case of the RFP for signage services, there was no legal advertisement, the proposal was sent only to Herricane Graphics"
Of interest in the above linked Board Approval Document is the fact Breuder's signature is no where to be found, which we have only seen this happen twice so far, both on Herricane Graphics approval documents. This document was signed by Joe Collins, current Interim President.
Was Breuder avoiding this matter because he knew it was wrong?
The auditor reports "I believe it is clear that the Illinois statutes allow the College to issue a contract for professional services without using a formal bid process when the contract is for the services of an individual possessing a high degree of professional skill and where the ability or fitness of the individual plays an important part."
"ability or fitness of the individual plays an important part."
To date, we have found no evidence in the records that Herricane Graphics has demonstrated ability or fitness which includes competence and qualifications as outlined in the Local Government Professional Services Selection Act, which is what they cited in the Board Approval Documents. (As covered in this article)
(50 ILCS 510/1) Sec. 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the political subdivisions of the State of Illinois to negotiate and enter into contracts for architectural, engineering and land surveying services on the basis of demonstrated competence and qualifications for the type of services required and at fair and reasonable compensation.
The record pertaining to Herricane Graphics is very clear. They received multiple no bid contracts that had requirements contained in them that were never met, yet they continued to get COD Business.
How is a vendor deemed fit for a contract when the following violations of contracts have been proven as well as misleading the press?
- Failed to comply with insurance requirement mandate. (Article here) and (here)
- Failed to comply with Prevailing Wage mandates (Article here)
- Signing contracts as the Architect when in fact she was not an architect (Article here)
- Provided misinformation to the press on our exposure of the pay to play operation (Article here)
In spite of the facts, Breuder's team put a Board Approval Document on the consent agenda with the following verbiage:
Herricane Graphics has developed a successful relationship with the College during the development and construction of over 16 signage / wayfinding related projects. As a result of these successful projects, we are recommending award of this contract to Herricane Graphics. This purchase complies with State Statute, Board Policy and Administrative Procedures. The purchase of professional services are exempt from bidding under Illinois Public Community College Act, 11 O ILCS 805/3-27.1. (As presented to the Board)
The statement, "This purchase complies with State Statute, Board Policy and Administrative Procedures", is simply false and you only need to read the key points of the Internal audit to see that.
From the Internal Audit
- "The Project Manager indicated she would issue an RFP for the construction manager services and send it to three firms: Herricane Graphics, Pepper construction and Mortenson Construction." (NEVER HAPPENED)
- "When the best candidate was identified, the Project Manager would issue a task order contract. The Purchasing Manager agreed this was the correct process." (agreed this was correct process but DID NOT follow what they agreed was correct!)
- The Purchasing Manager advised that if one or two of the three pre-qualified suppliers did not respond and there was only one choice available, it was strongly recommended to complete a competitive process with formal advertisements." (Only one choice because that was all they notified!)
- "The Project Manager offered two options to the Senior Vice President for Administration (Tom Glaser). In option one, the Project Manager stated that the Purchasing manager advised the College could seek a proposal only from Herricane Graphics and assuming the proposal was received from them within a reasonable time period, the contract could be awarded at the June 24 Board meeting. However,I could find no statement from the Purchasing Manager giving such advice to the Project Manager." (Someone lied! )
- "Option two was to use a competitive process by issuing an RFP to the three firms mentioned earlier but this process would take longer and the contract would not be presented to the Board until July 2014. The Project Manager recommended and the Senior Vice President concurred to use option one and seek only a proposal from Herricane Graphics." (Yet first bullet point the same person claimed they would issue an RFP to three firms? What changed and Why?)
- "For the signage project, the Project Manager used the RFP process which typically involves a legal advertisement and a deadline for proposal submission." ("Typically" involves a legal advertisement - yet the auditors own words - "In the case of the RFP for signage services, there was no legal advertisement, the proposal was sent only to Herricane Graphics")
- "The College's Purchasing Department has had a long standing policy of not accepting any proposals that are submitted past the deadline." (Yet they accepted Herricane Graphics - WHY? )
- "In the case of the RFP for signage services, there was no legal advertisement, the proposal was sent only to Herricane Graphics and the response to the proposal was dated and submitted on June 2, 2014 which was after the stated deadline of May 28, 2014 at 2:00 pm." (Multiple red flags yet the contract was awarded anyway? Why? )
- I could not locate any request from Herricane Graphics for an RFP deadline extension nor could I locate any documentation indicating an extension had been offered by the College. (Thus the comments by the HLC hold true! -"According to the internal auditor, this contract was therefore invalid".)
- Because of these issues, it is not clear to me whether the College is legally able to accept the proposal that was submitted after the deadline. (Not clear? Is it time for a new independent auditor? )
And now, the clear pass the buck comment that takes the auditor off the hook and no one gets held accountable for this scam on the tax payers:
- "Therefore, I recommend you request an opinion from the College's attorneys."
I challenge the current Board of Trustees to waive privilege on this matter and tell the public what attorneys Florey and/or Vasquez told the Administration after the Auditors recommendation. Was their input EVER requested?
It is evident from reading the Internal Audit and reviewing the history of our reporting on this matter we hit every nail on the head, and to date no one has been held accountable.
At what point will the FBI or the State's Attorney send a message that this kind of stuff can not go on in our public institutions?
This is an exact replica of the Internal Audit. It was reproduced in its entirety in order to ensure the metadata does not point to our whistleblower.