Friday, July 19, 2024

The Cambridge Housing Authority has put its top purchasing official on paid leave after questions were raised about the bidding for a contract to manage the coin-operated washers and dryers at the authority’s public housing developments.

CHA staff members are examining records of previous bids prepared by Chief Procurement Officer David P. Desrosiers, Executive Director Gregory Russ said. That review will probably be completed by the end of the month.

Desrosiers could not be reached. Public records show he owns a two-family house on Foch Street in Cambridge,and lives there. But there is no telephone listing for him. As an authority employee, Desrosiers is represented by Teamsters Local 122 in Boston. A message left for the head of the local was not returned.

Desrosiers earns $66,766 a year, Russ said. Desrosiers’ profile on the Internet site LinkedIn says he has worked for CHA since 1994 and got a bachelor’s degree in 1980 from American International College, which is in Springfield. Russ said he couldn’t provide information about Desrosiers’ work history or background because that information is “personnel related.”

“Documents were missing”

Desrosiers’ situation came to light when authority commissioners were asked to appoint an interim chief procurement officer at their Aug. 15 meeting. A memo given to the board — not discussed at the public meeting — revealed Desrosiers had been put on paid “administrative leave” during the first week of August. Russ provided the memo in response to a request from Cambridge Day.

“The decision to place the current [chief procurement officer] on administrative leave is based on an internal review of a procurement file that had been submitted for board approval but had not yet been presented to the board,” the memo from authority Deputy Executive Director Michael Johnston said.

In an interview, Russ said questions about bidding for the laundry contract arose when “we received a board memo” asking for approval of a contract and “we were unhappy with the way the memo was written.” Staff members checked Desrosiers’ file on the contract and found “it did not comport with what is required. Documents were missing or did not agree,”  Russ said.

Desrosiers was placed on leave while staff examines files for other contracts he oversaw. The authority will probably have to rebid the laundry contract, Russ said.

Under the contract, an outside company maintains and manages laundry rooms at CHA developments in return for a share of the revenue collected in the machines. The authority has been getting about $50,000 to $51,000 a year from the contract, Russ said.

The vendors

Only one company, Automatic Coin Laundry Systems in Waltham, bid on the contract, although two others picked up paperwork, Russ said. The companies that did not bid were Mac-Gray Corp., a national laundry management company based in Waltham, and Commonwealth Appliance Inc., in Norwood. None of the three companies returned calls seeking comment on the bid. CHA officials contacted Mac-Gray and Commonwealth Appliance as part of their review of Desrosiers, Russ said.

Mac-Gray holds the CHA contract. The publicly owned company reported that it collected almost $155 million in management revenue in the first six months of this year and paid about 49 percent of the collections to property owners. The company manages coin-operated laundries in 43 states and says it is the second-largest “laundry facilities business” in the country.

Commonwealth Appliance says on its website that it pays property owners 50 percent to 80 percent of revenues depending on the type of contract signed. There were no specifics online.

This story was expanded Aug. 26, 2012, from the original.