MDHA letter touts agency's 'high standards'

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 2:23am
Staff reports

The Metro Development and Housing Agency continues to defend itself nearly two weeks after a report blasted the contracting practices employed by the agency during predevelopment work related to the proposed $585 million convention center.

“We strive for perfection and hold ourselves to high standards,” MDHA Executive Director Phil Ryan wrote in a response letter sent out Monday. “We are proud of our performance and stand by our results.”

Successful predevelopment work by MDHA, as cited by the letter, includes:

- A unique and sustainable design of a 1.2 million square foot state-of-the-art convention center for Nashville created in collaboration with a world-class development team

- A plan that assures significant participation by small, minority and women owned businesses throughout the construction of this facility that will create more than 1,500 construction jobs beginning in 2010.

A report released the day before Thanksgiving by Kraft CPAs had revealed “serious flaws” in contracting practices by MDHA,” Metro Director of Law Sue Cain and Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling wrote in a letter addressed to Ryan.

The report concluded the following episodes to run contrary to MDHA’s procurement policy:

- A financial commitment of $104,720 was not presented to MDHA’s board for approval

- Four instances in which time and materials contracts were executed without expenditure ceilings

- Four cases in which cumulative change order or changes in the amount of a letter contract in excess of $50,000 were not approved by the board

- Two instances in which letter contracts were used for a year or more with repeated modification

- One case in which a vendor repeatedly invoiced and was paid on compensation terms different than the terms in the contact then in effect

The KRAFT CPAs report also found no contract was executed for $350,000 spent by the Nashville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau during the “Blitz Campaign” for the Music City Center.