Pittsburgh City Council making changes after Channel 11 investigation into no-bid contract

PITTSBURGH — Channel 11 Chief Investigator Rick Earle has learned that Pittsburgh City Council is making major changes after a Channel 11 investigation into a “no bid” police staffing study.

That contract and other no-bid city contracts are now under scrutiny by the district attorney.

Monday, city council approved changes to the process.

“In no way do we believe the administration intentionally did any wrongdoing with procurement or no-bid contracts,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Anthony Coghill, who introduced the legislation along with Councilman Ricky Burgess.

Councilman Coghill said he introduced the changes, including requiring the city solicitor to review and sign off on all no-bid contracts as an extra layer of protection.

“This was simply to put safeguards in place for this council and councils in the future and administrations in the future,” said Coghill, during council’s meeting last week.

This comes after concerns about that $180,000 no-bid police staffing study contract paid for with tax dollars.

The city administration said Matrix Consulting was the only company that could do the study, despite a similar study done by the International Police Chiefs’ Association a decade ago.

Allegheny County District Attorney Steve Zappala is now looking into that staffing study, and he’s also requested all no-bid contracts issued by the city for the past three years.

“We take very seriously our obligation to competitively bid, all contracts where that’s feasible,” said Deputy Mayor Jake Pawlak.

Pawlak has said everything was done by the book with the police staffing study and that the administration doesn’t have a problem with the changes proposed by council.  The changes also include a monetary cap on open-ended contracts in an effort to spread the work to more companies and require the administration to provide quarterly reports to council.

“All of the changes as it relates to the process are supported by the administration,” said Pawlak.

But the bottom line, said the council president, is making sure it’s all done legally.

“What  I’m concerned about is I don’t want anyone getting in trouble, not your side of the hall (referring to the Mayor’s offices), not our side of the hall (referring to City Council),” said Theresa Kail-Smith, Pittsburgh City Council President.

Council unanimously approved the changes.

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