The toilet at Huntington Metro Station in Fairfax County, Virginia, has been out of service since 2017 © Ben Schumin
The toilet at Huntington Metro Station in Fairfax County, Virginia, has been out of service since 2017 © Ben Schumin

$500,000 spent maintaining self-cleaning toilet

2 August 2019

While procurement problems with prestige projects like the F35 fighter jet have made big political waves in Washington DC of late, the city’s Metro auditor took aim at a smaller target in his latest semi-annual report – a Metro toilet.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) system, known locally as the Metro, rapped the authority for contract mismanagement.

This came after it was estimated to have spent $500,000 maintaining a single self-cleaning toilet located at the Huntington Metro Station.

OIG was able to prove that WMATA had spent $416,789.32 between 2003-17 maintaining the toilet, but because invoices for several years could not be provided it said the real total was probably higher than $500,000.

The toilet, incidentally, has been out of service since the autumn of 2017.

“It is probable that WMATA spent over $500,000 on the self-cleaning toilet that has been out-ofservice since the fall of 2017,” said the report.

More seriously, the OIG also received a complaint that alleged the Office of Quality Assurance, Internal Compliance & Oversight (QICO) had improperly awarded a $44m staff augmentation contract to a specific supplier.

It was alleged the contract had been awarded because of a close relationship between a WMATA employee and a high-level official with the vendor.

The investigation found that during the solicitation process and evaluation of the bidders, a QICO staff member emailed several WMATA employees sensitive documents from his personal email account.

The employee provided confidential information to this vendor, including pricing details on another tender.

The same employee also used this personal email account to communicate with the vendor during the solicitation process.

“OIG also uncovered evidence that during the solicitation development and award for the contract, the QICO staff member was communicating with an official from a subcontractor of the vendor,” said its report.

The subjects being discussed included possible job offers. The investigation continues.

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