The vendor reportedly overcharged the city by over $129,000 and was non-compliant with the Minority and Women’s Business Opportunity Office (MWBOO). (Stock Photo) - Photo: Robert Couse-Baker

The vendor reportedly overcharged the city by over $129,000 and was non-compliant with the Minority and Women’s Business Opportunity Office (MWBOO). (Stock Photo)

Photo: Robert Couse-Baker

A Baltimore, Maryland, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) analysis of invoices has revealed an unnamed towing vendor overcharged the city for items and services not authorized under its contract or disclosed on its bid price sheet, and was allowed to continue working for the city after the contract had dissolved. In total, the OIG calculated the vendor overbilled the city $129,521.95 over a five-year period, according to an investigative report released on Jan. 12.

On Nov. 30, 2020, the OIG received a complaint alleging a Baltimore City vendor was being used for out-of-contract work, despite the vendor overbilling the city and being found non-compliant by the Minority and Women’s Business Opportunity Office (MWBOO).

On Dec. 2020, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Ramos, writing on behalf of Mayor Brandon Scott, stated he had spoken with the director of the Department of General Services (DGS) and was told they had been working with the Bureau of Procurement (BOP) over the past several months to initiate the solicitation of a new contract. In the meantime, DGS made an operational decision to continue using the services of the current vendor to ensure the continuity of operations on behalf of city agencies.

"The city lacks the resources (equipment and personnel) to be able to perform all the towing services provided by contracted vendors, and without these services, not only would the operations of agencies such as Fire, Police, DPW, and DOT be significantly hampered, the risk to equipment being damaged due to not being quickly retrieved from break-down locations also had to be weighed," he wrote.

The DGS and BOP have finalized the crafting of a new bid solicitation which will close Jan. 21. This new bid has a broader scope, enabling more vendors, both large and small, a chance to provide service to the city.

"The more vendors who participate in the bidding process, the more likely we will be to get competitive pricing, which ultimately means better contracts and taxpayer dollars being spent more effectively," Chichi Nyagah-Nash, director for the City of Baltimore’s Department of General Services, told Government Fleet. She stated the department expects the bid to be awarded by the end of February.

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