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A Costly Lesson in Arlington County

Arlington County awarded a contract in September 2003 for the construction of the Aurora Hills fire station for almost $4.3 million, but the contractor "was terminated for default" on June 1, 2005. According to the Manager's report to the Arlington County Board, dated June 20 (Adobe required), the contractor had been paid almost $3.1 million, but an additional $3.3 million is needed to complete the fire station. That's a $2.1 million cost overrun, which computes to 49.2%. Was anyone held accountable for this fiscal fiasco? The best the Manager could tell the County Board on July 12, when the Board approved an emergency agreement with another contractor, was "There were lessons learned -- we've got to pay closer attention to the wording of our contracts," according to the July 21, 2005 edition of the Arlington Sun-Gazette. The newspaper reported that fiscal watchdog Bob Atkins asked the Board, "Who was minding the store on this one?" A mighty good question indeed! An even better question might be when will the Arlington County Board wake-up, and realize the taxpayers of Arlington County need an Inspector General?