Audit: Costa Mesa Event Likely Violated City Puchasing Policies

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Costa Mesa officials likely violated purchasing policies for last summer’s 60th anniversary celebration, including failing to receive competitive bids and have adequate contracts in place, the city announced Thursday evening.

Required competitive bids were not received for nine contracts and required purchase orders were not obtained in 30 cases, according to the city’s executive summary of its investigations.

“The multiple investigations have found no evidence to date that public funds were used for personal gain or were unaccounted for. However, purchasing policies and procedures were not adhered to in many cases,” the summary states.

“Time constraints and lack of familiarity with internal City‐purchasing  procedures were the primary reasons  given for the apparent violations,” it continues.

Problems with “controls over cash” are also cited:

City staff and volunteers collected cash for food script, merchandise and other  items, but failed to put appropriate  procedures  in  place  to  ensure  the  accounting of that money. To date, the City’s investigations found no evidence of missing money.

Ultimately, the city was left $84,000 in the hole, which has been paid out of the city’s general fund, according to the summary.

City officials also released a batch of public records about the event, months after Voice of OC, other news agencies and residents first requested them.

(Click here to read the newly-released documents.)

The investigation is now in the hands of local prosecutors.

“The Police Department has forwarded the results of its criminal investigation to the District Attorney’s Office for review because of a variety of possible municipal code violations,” the city’s summary states.

The summary added that the city has implemented a number of reforms to help prevent a similar situation from happening again.

Those reactions include a refresher training course on purchasing policies for employees, more oversight from the city’s Finance Department, a new “buyer” employee who reviews purchasing decisions, and the establishment of a purchasing quality control committee.

Here are the “potential violations” of city policies cited in the summary:

OC Fair and Event Center, aka 32nd District Agricultural Assn. (parking lot rental): Contract more than staff signing authority, no purchase order. 

Ames & Associates (public relations): No competing bids. 

Big Top Rentals (booth, stages, tables, chairs): Contract more than staff signing authority, no purchase order, no competing bids. 

Empire Ice Company (ice): No purchase order, no competing bids.

Exterior Products (banner printing): No competing bids. 

Mouse Graphics (banners): No purchase order. 

Orange Coast College (cake): No purchase order. 

Orange County Register (newspaper insert): No purchase order. 

Pyro Engineering (fireworks): No purchase order, no competing bids. 

Rapid Notify (telephone notification): No purchase order. 

Shorebreak Electric (electrical services): No competing bids. 

TPSS Inc. (security services): No purchase order, no competing bids. 

U.S. Bank (credit card payment for entertainment): No purchase order. 

Sun Group: Significantly exceeded authorized amount in contract, no competing bids, unauthorized use of subcontractors, no purchase orders. 

Panache Booking (Bleached band): No purchase order. 

Bond Music Group (Jacques Renault band): No purchase order. 

Creative Artists Agency (Droog band): No purchase order. 

Ground Control Touring (Adam Green & Binki Shapiro): Contract more than staff signing authority, no purchase order. 

Ground Control Touring (Beach Fossils): Contract more than staff signing authority, no purchase order. 

HMBSMS (Danny Rose band): No purchase order 

Paradigm Talent Agency (Little Hurricane band): No purchase order. 

Eric Burdon Inc. (band): No purchase order. 

The Mob Agency (Berlin band): No purchase order. 

High Road Touring (The Soft Pack band): No purchase order. 

The Windish Agency (Jerome LOL band): No purchase order. 

The Windish Agency (Mr. Little Jeans band): No purchase order. 

Vern Altieri (Catalina Island All Star band): No purchase order.  

Wanda Jackson Entertainment: No purchase order. 

High Road Touring (White Arrows band): No purchase order. 

WME Entertainment (The White Buffalo band): No purchase order. 

WME Entertainment (Anna Lunoe): No purchase order. 

WME Entertainment (Chevy Metal): No purchase order. 

KB Event: Contract more than staff signing authority, no competing bids. 

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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