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Mass. AG settles with Salem Public Schools

By Bryan Cohen | Aug 8, 2012


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a settlement on Wednesday with Salem Public Schools to resolve allegations of violations related to public construction bidding.

The lawsuit and consent judgment were filed in Suffolk Superior Court after the Bid Unit of Coakley's Fair Labor Division looked into the procurement practices and alleged public construction bid violations of SPS's Building Services Department. The settlement is meant to correct and improve the procurement practices of SPS and put safeguards into place to ensure compliance in the future.

Coakley's office began looking into the matter after receiving information from a former SPS employee in the spring of 2011.

Starting no later than October 2006 and going through December 2010, SPS's BSD allegedly violated the public construction bidding laws for multiple maintenance and construction services. SPS allegedly failed to require the payment of prevailing wages for work on public buildings, failed to properly advertise contracting opportunities, divided procurements into multiple smaller parts to avoid the formal bidding process, failed to put contracts out to a formal bid, and failed to properly estimate the cost of routine and emergency services and repairs for elevators, ventilation and air conditioning units, heating and plumbing.

Upon a request from Coakley's office, the city of Salem initiated an extensive internal review of the BSD's procurement processes and implemented multiple actions to fix the alleged deficiencies.

The consent judgment resolves all claims in the lawsuit and includes a plan for future BSD monitoring by Coakley's office through March.

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