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Trade Center Overcharge Found Again

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Kristin Moore
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« on: April 10, 2011, 01:56:01 am »

Trade Center Overcharge Found Again
Published: July 24, 1992

A second cleaning company has overcharged the Port Authority thousands of dollars for work at the World Trade Center, a spokesman for the agency said yesterday. The overcharges, which have not been fully calculated, represent the third instance of overbilling on Port Authority contracts disclosed by the agency this week.

The firm, Prompt Maintenance Services, holds a $3.5 million contract to clean Buildings 4 and 5, two nine-story structures adjoining the twin towers of the World Trade Center, which is owned and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Agency officials disclosed earlier this week that another cleaning service, the Ogden Allied Services Corporation, overcharged tenants at the World Trade Center by almost $1 million over the last year, and that the Port Authority may also have overpaid as much as $500,000 over the last two years to a company that provides security at the center.

Allen Morrison, a spokesman for the Port Authority, described the overpayments to Prompt Maintenance Services as a "relatively minor matter" that is being resolved between the agency and the contractor. 'Inadequate Supervision'

But Mr. Morrison said that taken together, the three incidents reflect a pattern of "inadequate supervision of contracts" that has emerged recently in a series of audits. As a result of the findings, two top agency officials were reassigned this week. They are Frank Garcia, who oversaw World Trade Center business operations from May 1990 until January, when he was named director of economic development, and August K. Preschle, who oversaw the Trade Center's maintenance and daily operations. Both were reassigned after the first cleaning overcharges were disclosed.

The center's construction manager was demoted in January after an internal audit turned up inadequacies in contract oversight, officials said. But they have refused to release that audit or discuss its specific findings.

Prompt Maintenance Services, which has its headquarters in Rockland County, is cooperating with agency auditors and has agreed to "do everything possible to make restitution," Mr. Morrison said.

A telephone message left at the company's office in Rockland County was not returned yesterday. Noel Roman, the company's maintenance supervisor at the World Trade Center, said he knew nothing about the overbilling. Withholding Part of Payments

Under the terms of its two-year contract, granted in January 1991, Prompt Maintenance was supposed to bill the Port Authority each month for the amount of square footage its workers cleaned, Mr. Morrison said. Instead, the company submitted bills each month for one twenty-fourth of the contract limit of $3.5 million, regardless of the actual work done, he said.

Auditors are now reviewing the records of the last 18 months to determine the amounts that should have been paid, Mr. Morrison said. Until the matter is resolved, the Port Authority will withhold 15 percent of the company's future monthly payments, he said.

Prompt Maintenance is one of two smaller companies granted cleaning contracts by the World Trade Center in 1990 as part of an effort to open contracts to smaller businesses. An audit of a $4.3 million two-year contract awarded to the other small company, Maintenance Services Inc. of Yonkers, showed no irregularities, Mr. Morrison said. The cleaning contract held by Ogden Allied is worth $24 million a year.

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