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Aug. 10, 2020

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State auditor: County violated law on Camp Bonneville contract

Federal procedures not followed in hire of monitoring firm

By , Columbian political reporter
Published:

Clark County violated federal procurement requirements when it awarded a contract to a company involved in the ongoing cleanup of Camp Bonneville, the Washington state Auditor’s Office had found.

The U.S. Army transferred Camp Bonneville, a 3,840-acre former military training site, to Clark County in 2006. Since then, the county has received grant funding from the Army for environmental remediation of the site to remove lead, unexploded munitions and other hazardous waste from the area. During that time, the cleanup work has seen cost overruns and delays.

According to a state auditor’s office report released last week, the county has spent $7.87 million in federal grant funding for the cleanup of Camp Bonneville. The county used part of that money to award “a two-year contract not to exceed $505,595 to an engineering firm,” according to the report.

The report doesn’t mention the firm by name, but the auditor’s office later clarified that PBS Engineering is the company that was awarded the contract.

According to the report, the county was required to meet federal procurement requirements for contracts such as this one, which meant Clark County should have advertised for competitive proposals.

“The county had written procedures that conform to the federal procurement requirements, but its internal controls were not effective in ensuring it complied,” reads the report. “The county did not advertise the request for proposals and could not provide evidence of how the most qualified firm was selected for the project. We consider these deficiencies in internal controls to be a significant deficiency.”

The report recommended that the county strengthen its internal controls to ensure that contracts paid with federal funds comply with federal procurement requirements.

Weston Solutions Inc. has contracted with the county since 2012 for the cleanup work. The county has also contracted with PBS Engineering for over 10 years to monitor groundwater at Camp Bonneville, according to a county staff report.

Clark County Manager Shawn Henessee said that county staff didn’t put out a notice when PBS Engineering’s contract was up and just continued it. He said that county staff now better understand and will follow federal requirements.

“So it’s unfortunate, but it’s, I think, been addressed,” he said.

Magan Reed, spokeswoman for Clark County Public Works, said in an email that the county followed state law in awarding the contract rather than federal law, which she said has more stringent requirements.

“Staff is scheduling training sessions to ensure full compliance with federal, state or other laws as applicable moving forward,” she said.

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