D.C. fires official over botched smart meter deal

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray says the city contracting official who handled the now-voided agreement to install smart meters in the District's taxicabs has been fired.

"I am hugely disappointed... in the performance of those who were involved in the contracting process," Gray said at a news conference. "A contracting officer was dismissed as a result of this effort."

Gray's comments came less than one week after the city's Contract Appeals Board canceled the District's $35 million deal with VeriFone after a pair of losing bidders protested the agreement.

In its ruling, first reported by The Washington Post, the appeals board faulted the contracting official who handled the lucrative deal, which it identified as John R. Dean.

The panel said that Dean, who could not be reached for comment, "appears to have completely abdicated his responsibility to conduct an independent analysis of proposals." It also ruled there were "numerous unexplained and glaring errors, inconsistencies and oversights" during Dean's review.

Dean's actions, the board wrote, meant "the District conducted an improper and insufficiently documented technical evaluation" of the bids.

A senior city official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the District did not believe that Dean acted with any criminal intent.

"If he was a criminal, he wasn't very good," said the official, who attributed the termination to what they described as Dean's "incompetence."

Although city officials had hoped to install the meters, which include GPS technology and credit card readers, in the District's 6,500 taxicabs by the end of the year, Gray acknowledged the timetable would be delayed.

"This has set us back in terms of time," said Gray, who added that city leaders are exploring their options for the future of the smart meter program. "I want to move forward as quickly as we possibly can."

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner