Tuesday, July 08, 2014

More Revolving Door News From State Government

A controversial top official at INDOT accused of using his position to financially benefit family members who sold land to the state for the I-69 project is now seeking permission from the state ethics commission to accept a position with an engineering firm that has won more than $9 million worth of state contracts since 1999. According to an AP report, INDOT Chief of Staff Troy Woodruff, a former Republican state lawmaker from Vincennes, is seeking a formal opinion on whether he can accept employment with an INDOT contractor, RQAW.

As the AP article points out, state law requires a one-year cooling off period for state workers taking a job in the private sector related to the work they performed for the state, but the state ethics commission almost always grants a waiver to state employees seeking advice from it. "At this point in the negotiation process, I am uncertain what all my potential job duties and responsibilities will entail; however, I would generally oversee transportation activities," Woodruff wrote to the panel. Woodruff is not an engineer in case you were wondering. The state's Inspector General David Thomas refused to comment on the status of his investigation of Woodruff that began a year ago.

RQAW's president, Richard O'Connor, has been a large campaign contributor to Democratic candidates in the past. State campaign finance data available online indicates that he has contributed more than $83,000 to various Democratic candidates and committees over the past several years. The company's senior vice president, Joseph Mrak, has contributed over $13,000 to Republican candidates and committees in recent years. Another executive with RQAW, Sanjay Patel, has contributed at least $60,000 to Democratic candidates and committees. Perhaps RQAW is trying to enhance its Republican profile to win more state contracts by hiring Woodruff.

UPDATE: An observant reader points out that RQAW was in hot water with INDOT after a bridge it designed, the Martin Luther King Bridge over the Borman Expressway in Gary, showed structural damage only six years after it was built. INDOT sued the builder, Superior Construction, for the more than $3 million the state had to spend to replace the bridge. Superior blamed RQAW's design and the materials used for the problems with the bridge. INDOT also sought to suspend both Superior and RQAW from all future INDOT projects. INDOT Commissioner Michael Cline later upheld the suspension of both companies. According to minutes of INDOT's Prequalification Committee on December 6, 2010, Woodruff participated as a voting member of the committee in a decision to lift the suspensions of Superior and RQAW once they had satisfied certain conditions imposed by INDOT, a decision that allowed RQAW to qualify for millions of dollars in future projects. In addition, an Indianapolis Star reports that Woodruff personally signed off on several contracts awarded to RQAW valued at $562,000. A separate high-ranking INDOT employee, Sam Sarvis, is also seeking permission to work for another INDOT contractor, CDM Smith, according to the Star.


Pete Boggs said...

Me-tricks of fascism aren't citizen centered.

Anonymous said...

The fact that... "Woodruff is not an engineer in case you were wondering" screamed at me as I read your piece.

Engineering firm RQAW, an INDOT contractor, wants to hire a politically connected non-engineer.

Okey dokey... And the band plays on...

Anonymous said...

Thomas is also leaving state government.

Thomas was grossly overpaid.

A real snorer.

Anonymous said...

Check your data - you show Sanjay as a member of RQAW, he is not, he is the president of another firm.

Gary R. Welsh said...

From RQAW's website today:

Sanjay N. Patel, AAIA, LEED AP, CPTED

In his twenty years of experience at RQAW, Sanjay has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to unify project team members into a cohesive, creative and productive team, meeting strict budgets and schedules, while providing the owner with unique and functional solutions to their various needs. He has extensive, hands-on experience with all project types, from Criminal/Justice to Military and Industrial to Municipal, and all related aspects of planning and quality control of team design efforts from the onset of the project through final construction. His responsibility is to ensure the quality and continuity of design, and effectively translate ideas into a building form that meets the client's expectations. Sanjay’s enthusiasm and leadership elevates the performance and quality of the project. As the IT Manager at RQAW he spear-heads the firm’s BIM implementation plan, the paperless office initiative and all current and future technology goals.

Bachelor of Architecture, MS University