Sen. Somers on CT Port Authority: “…like ‘Groundhog Day’”

August 4, 2023

State audit critiques and credits port authority

The Day of New London

state audit of the Connecticut Port Authority has concluded that the quasi-public agency might have avoided an appearance of a conflict of interest if it had not allowed its construction manager to recommend itself for multi-million-dollar subcontracts during the development of the $300 million State Pier project.

The audit released on Thursday, which mostly covers June 30, 2020, to June 03, 2022, concluded that while allowing construction manager Kiewit Corp. to bid on its own contracts was not prohibited by law for quasi-public agencies, the practice could allow Kiewit to gain “an unfair competitive advantage over other firms, when it bids for sub projects for which it developed bid requirements, invitations of bids, or requests for proposals.”

Auditors looked at two specific bids at the State Pier project, one for $36.38 million and another for $28 million, that were awarded to Kiewit.

Kiewit, overseen by construction administrator AECOM, was awarded six of the 30 bid packages related to infrastructure improvements at State Pier, the audit found.
The port authority, in response to state auditors, noted that the constriction manager contract was developed and entered into with assistance from the state Office of Policy and Management and Department of Administrative Services.

A state law passed during the most recent legislative session now bars a construction manager hired by the port authority from bidding on elements of a project its oversees.

The state’s Auditors of Public Accounts, which performed the audit, also found the port authority failed to comply with its operating policies when it did not seek competitive bids for a $794,790 environmental study in 2019 and did not submit quarterly reports to the Office of Fiscal Analysis as requested in fiscal years 2021 and 2022.
The audit also found that the port authority had implemented a series of policies and fiscal controls to comply with 10 out of 11 recommendations made in the last audit. These recommendations included items from an improved record-keeping system to adoption of an ethics policy.

David Kooris, the chairman of the port authority’s board of directors, said the report is a “clear testament to the hard work we put in in 2020 to update our policies and procedures and put controls into place.“

“On the whole to me, this is a very good report that shows we have addressed things previously brought to our attention. There’s nothing here that calls into question anything we’ve done since we’ve been involved,” Kooris said.

Kooris was elected chairman of the port authority in 2020. Ulysses B. Hammond was named the port authority’s interim executive director in April 2022.

One remaining recommendation from auditors is to “ensure the procurement of services is performed in the most cost-effective manner.” The port authority continues to face public criticism over the rise of the cost to redevelop State Pier from $93 million to more than $300 million.

State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, issued a statement on Thursday critical of the port authority and of the explosion in the cost of the State Pier project.

“This is like Groundhog Day. From an unfair contracting process to red flags regarding the selection of paid consultants, one thing is for certain: the lack of transparency at the Connecticut Port Authority endures,” Somers said.

“Year after 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 said.

“The taxpayers deserve answers – and an apology,” she said.

The full audit is available at