Illinois Tollway withdraws proposal for $9 million contract after comptroller complaint

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Illinois Tollway withdraws proposal for $9 million contract after comptroller complaint

Chicago Tribune Susana A. Mendoza

Chicago Tribune Newspaper | Wisniewski, M. —

The Illinois Toll Highway Authority on Friday withdrew a proposal to pay almost $9 million to a consulting firm to finish work on a technology upgrade after the plan was questioned by the state comptroller.

But Tollway officials said the decision was not the result of Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s complaint, but rather because of discussions with the state’s independent chief procurement officer on the best way to finish the job.

The Tollway had already agreed to spend $7.9 million for a contract with Deloitte Consulting to implement the State’s Enterprise Resource Program, a technology project to help manage state finances. The Tollway had asked for the additional $9 million to finish the work, and it was on the agenda for an upcoming committee meeting. The agenda item had referred to the amendment as a “tollway emergency.”

Mendoza, who manages the state’s checkbook, on Thursday called for a review of the proposal by independent procurement officials, saying in a news release that “failing to properly estimate cost and overspending is not an emergency — it’s poor project management.”

On Friday afternoon, the Tollway said it had changed its proposal to ask only for enough money to continue paying Deloitte for the next 90 days, which would be less than $9 million, though Tollway spokesman Dan Rozek could not say how much less. He said more information would be available Monday, and that the matter had been “evolving” as Tollway officials worked with the procurement office.

The proposal is expected to go before the Tollway board at its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday.

The Tollway said in a statement that the Chief Procurement Office recommended to the Tollway that its “only viable option” would be to use a 90-day emergency procurement to continue getting services from Deloitte to ensure there would be no interruption in the work.

A spokesman for Mendoza praised the Tollway’s decision.

“We are happy to hear the Tollway is re-thinking the $9 million ‘emergency’ contract — whether or not it is in response to the red flags Comptroller Mendoza raised about the lack of transparency,” spokesman Abdon Pallasch said. “We hope the Tollway will subject future contracts to the scrutiny of the procurement process instead of using the ‘emergency’ loophole.”

Tollway officials said the agency has enough money in its budget to finish the entire upgrade, which is scheduled to be ready by July 1.

Mendoza, a Democrat, has been a frequent critic of Gov. Bruce Rauner and how he handles the state’s finances. This was the first time she targeted a Tollway contract for criticism.

Rauner, a Republican, has countered by calling Mendoza a “puppet” of House Speaker Michael Madigan. Mendoza defeated Rauner’s hand-picked appointee for the comptroller’s office in a special election in 2016. She is seeking a full four-year term next year and is being challenged by Rauner aide Darlene Senger.


View the article: Wisniewski, M. (2018, January 19). Illinois Tollway withdraws proposal for $9 million contract after comptroller complaint. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from www.chicagotribune.com.

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