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Feds probe Metro over stimulus-funded contract

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Photo - A Metro information-technology contract funded with $5 million in federal stimulus money is being investigated. (Examiner file photo)
A Metro information-technology contract funded with $5 million in federal stimulus money is being investigated. (Examiner file photo)
Local,Transportation,Kytja Weir

Federal officials are investigating Metro for problems with a contract partially funded with $5 million in federal stimulus funding, The Washington Examiner has learned.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general recently subpoenaed documents related to an information technology contract the transit agency has with Metaformers, a McLean company, according to a Metro employee with direct knowledge of the investigation.

"We're actually putting together the documentation for it now," the employee said.

The DOT' Inspector General's Office investigates fraud, waste, abuse and violations of transportation law, with purview over any project receiving federal money, including the stimulus funds. It also can take criminal action if needed. The inspector general's spokesman, David Wonnenberg, declined to confirm or deny an investigation into Metro or the contract.

"We are cooperating fully with the DOT IG, but beyond that we do not comment on ongoing investigations," Metro spokeswoman Caroline Lukas said.

Metaformers officials did not return calls for comment.

The transit agency received nearly $202 million in federal stimulus funds for various projects, including $9.3 million for IT projects.

The Metaformers contract, which cost at least $12.4 million, was intended to help integrate two systems that Metro uses to track its financial systems and its business processes. Federal stimulus funds paid for $5 million of it.

The contract was awarded in June 2010 for a two-year period for $9.15 million, according to contract documents obtained by The Examiner in a public-records request. In April 2011, the contract amount was increased to $9.79 million. And in July 2011, Metro exercised another option, bringing the total to $12.4 million.

Metro had spent all but $15 of the $5 million in stimulus money for the project as of the end of February, according to Metro's stimulus tracking website.

In general, Metro spends tens of millions of dollars on outside contracts each year. Its information technology contracts, though, have been targeted for myriad problems by the transit agency's own inspector general. Seven out of 12 of Metro's inspector general audits since 2010 have been on IT projects, including one each on the Maximo and PeopleSoft projects that the Metaformers contract was intended to unite. Both internal audits found Metro lacked sufficient oversight over the systems.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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