Louisiana Inspector General Cancels Contract With School

NEW ORLEANS — A $1.2 million fraud oversight contract between the Inspector General (IG) and the Recovery School District (RSD) was recently canceled. The contract, which was originally expected to last three years, ended earlier in June, two years early. It was put in place to help develop and reshape the structure of New Orleans’ school landscape.

This master plan is the combined effort of the RSD and the Orleans Parish School Board. Baton Rouge-based CSRS and Jacobs Engineering are in charge of construction coordination, which would produce 86 new and renovated school campuses throughout the city. The school district renewed the contract with CSRS and Jacobs for three years and $28 million in early June.

The decision to cut the contract between the IG and the RSD short was reached by both sides, according to Ed Quatrevaux, New Orleans inspector general. He said the RSD restricted access to records and wrongfully placed district attorneys in all meetings between the IG’s and RSD’s staff and contractors. These actions were a breach of the contract and a factor contributing to its termination.

The main issue that caused the contract’s termination, however, was the difficulty encountered in funding it. Although the IG and RSD met several times throughout the year to discuss the funding and scope of the project, nothing was agreed upon. They originally wanted to have a complete fraud oversight contract for construction projects, which would have included screening vendors, developing a code of conduct and addressing complaints.

The school district already has contracts for fraud oversight in place, however, with the Louisiana Legislative Auditor and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. These preexisting contracts made the third contract with the RSD repetitive and costly, according to Patrick Dobard, RSD Superintendent.

High bids for school construction projects have been steadily streaming in, and cutbacks in the master plan might need to be made. Dobard told press that the school district planned to use the money for other parts of the plan, “to serve the children of New Orleans.”