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Queens Chronicle

Liu: sewage work leaves DEP in fix

Comptroller finds $6.6 million left in vendor pockets despite errors

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Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 10:30 am

An audit by City Comptroller John Liu found design errors and omissions in the Department of Environmental Protection’s Bowery Bay Water Pollution Control project, an upgrade to a sewage treatment plant in Queens.

The snafus cost the city nearly $6.6 million, but the agency made a minimal effort to recoup the money.

“A great deal of taxpayer money was wasted on this waste-treatment project, money that the city can and should recoup,” Liu said.

“Consultants may sometimes make mistakes but the city must not pay for those mistakes. We must recoup the money for taxpayers — now more than ever, in order to help rebuild and restore New Yorkers’ livelihoods, businesses, and neighborhoods in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.”

The audit found the DEP did not judiciously exercise its ability to recoup costs incurred as a result of revisions as a result of an error or omission.

Typically, additions to a public project’s bill, called “change-order costs,” should be paid for by the party that commits the error, according to Liu.

The upgrade of the Astoria treatment plant carried a $213 million price tag, which included the money not recouped.

Liu recommended the agency enforce an existing system for monitoring and reviewing change orders, as well as avoid confusing change-order classifications.

In response, the DEP created a review panel to oversee the collection of change-order costs.

“In general, the department does not dispute the findings or the recommendations of the Draft Report,” the agency said in a statement.

Liu has made the tracking down and recouping of money owed by vendors a central part of his tenure in office, recovering $3 million from similar errors last year.

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