Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Los Angeles County sheriff's officials overpaid a private Carlsbad-based contractor nearly $11 million for work that wasn't needed and aircraft equipment they already had, it was reported today.
An internal report obtained by the Los Angeles Times recommended that supervisors within the emergency air support division be investigated for potential conflicts of interest and violations of county purchasing rules. Aero Bureau supervisors, the report states, allowed the Carlsbad avionics firm, Hangar One, to bill for unjustified expenses while outfitting a fleet of helicopters.
Sheriff's officials paid the firm for 3,888 hours of installation work for each aircraft. Compared with the industry standard, that's eight times more man-hours than needed, according to the memo cited by The Times.
"This per aircraft amount cannot be justified," sheriff's Sgt. Richard Gurr wrote in the report, calling the charges "extremely excessive," The Times reported.
In other instances, Aero Bureau officials allegedly purchased unneeded special equipment from the firm. The department spent almost $500,000, for example, on 42 night-vision goggles when the dozen they already had were "sufficient to support any LASD mission," according to the memo.
Division officials made six-figure purchases without the required approval of the Board of Supervisors, the memo charges.
"They have purposely bypassed the established purchasing code protocols," it states, according to The Times. "LASD Aero Bureau managers have potentially violated numerous L.A. County Codes and Guidelines."
The memo echoes allegations made by a former lieutenant within the air division, reported earlier this month by The Times. Retired Lt. Edison Cook sued the department, alleging bid rigging and intentional delays to calls for emergency air support to justify more overtime pay.