The firms in the sample included more than $3.5 million in unallowable executive compensation in their charges. Of that amount, federal high way grants to states paid $2.8 million, and states paid the rest.
At that rate, the Office of the Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Transportation projected, design and engineering firms overcharged state transportation departments $41.2 million for executive compensation. The federal share would be $32.9 million.
Gov. Joe Manchin points to this audit as one of the reasons forÂ HB2977, introduced in the Legislature on Friday at his request.
The bill would change the way state-funded engineering contracts for highways and water projects are granted. The bill would require the state to keep an annual list of firms qualified to do various kinds of design and engineering work. Qualified firms would be able to bid on projects. The lowest bids would win, with a preference given to in-state firms. A similar process is already in place for construction contracts. Lawrence Messina of the Associate Press offers more details.
Architects’ and engineers’ concerns about the governor’s bill are spelled out in my column. There is also more about the current system of picking engineering firms, a federal process called Qualifications Based Selection, at the Web site of the American Council of Engineering Companies of West Virginia.