Sen. Somers: CT taxpayers “keep getting footed with the mounting bills.”

August 4, 2023

A contractor for the Connecticut Port Authority had an unfair advantage in bidding for work on the redevelopment of State Pier in New London, according to an audit released Thursday.

The State Auditors of Public Accounts found Kiewit, the State Pier construction manager, awarded itself favorable contracts worth millions of dollars.

The audit also found the Port Authority failed to seek competitive bids for a consultant for an $800,000 environmental permitting services contract and failed to get board approval for the consultant that was eventually hired.

In response, the Port Authority said they will re-evaluate future construction manager contracts to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest and have also amended their procurement procedures for consultants and resources after seeking assistance from the state Contracting Standards Board and Office of Policy and Management.

Still, the report drew criticism from lawmakers, including State Senator Heather Somers, R-Groton, who said the lack of transparency at the Port Authority endures year-after-year, saying it was like “Groundhog Day.”
“The authority is entrusted with millions of taxpayers’ money,” Somers said. “It is making crucial decisions which have long-term impact on our region and entire state. And the taxpayers keep getting footed with the mounting bills.”

The original price tag to redevelop State Pier to be a hub for the offshore wind industry grew from $93 million in 2019 to $300 million this year.

“We as lawmakers work in a bipartisan fashion to craft and pass legislation to reform the authority, yet it seems we will always have more reforms to make,” she added.

In July, a law went into effect to prohibit the Port Authority from hiring a company to serve as a project supervisor and subcontractor at the same time.