Perelló knew of 3Comm contract’s audit results since May
SAN JUAN – Former House Speaker Jaime Perelló knew since last May that the draft report of an external audit that detailed irregularities in the contract with 3Comm Global, which belonged to convicted Popular Democratic Party (PDP) fundraiser Anaudi Hernández.
However, Perelló didn’t share the information with the rest of the PDP delegation, nor did he add comments to the draft presented by Benchmark Technologies despite multiple requests by journalists, and majority and minority legislators.
Upon interim House Speaker Roberto Rivera Ruiz de Porras’s request Tuesday afternoon, the company, which specializes in telecommunication services, presented the final report without changing the draft’s content.
Details, including the name of the auditing firm, were not publicly revealed until Wednesday in a press conference by Rivera Ruiz de Porras, who was accompanied by the House’s internal auditor, Néstor Feliciano; House Administrator William Díaz; and two executives from Benchmark Technologies.
The first audit reuqsted by Perelló, in December 2015, after federal accusations against House officials and Hernández emerged, was performed by the lower chamber’s internal auditor, who presented a draft of the findings on Jan. 29.
Among the findings, Feliciano highlighted the lack of a needs assessment before the proposal’s evaluation process, irregularities in the request for proposals, a lack of documentation justifying the selection of 3Comm Global, and no payment plan. Only documents were evaluated and no interviews were conducted of the people involved because of a criminal investigation underway.
There were no corrections, but there will be now
Despite the findings, Perelló didn’t comment on the draft nor did he implement any corrective actions. However, he did decide to contract in March an independent company to audit the contract process so it would be “more objective” and specific technology-wise.
On March 18, Benchmark Technologies was contracted by the House to perform the audit. According to the Comptroller’s Office the contract (2016-000435) for “management consulting” was in effect until June 30, for $37,500. The company has received $12,000 to $15,000 to date, said Suikam Kwok, one of the company’s executives who evaluated the technical aspects of the 3Comm contract.
In this second audit’s draft, presented in May, two findings stood out. The House didn’t have an adequate process for purchasing technology, which opens the door for companies such as 3Comm to obtain contracts without having the qualifications. Secondly, the body didn’t have adequate personnel to develop technology projects and serve as process advisers, Benchmark’s senior consultant, Luis Adames, pointed out.
Perelló didn’t comment on that second draft either, didn’t inform the rest of the PDP delegation that he had received it, nor did he carry out corrective actions. Despite this, the House speaker, who has since resigned amid the scandal over the granting of the contract, wrote a request to Rivera Ruiz de Porras to send the results to the Comptroller’s Office.
Although the final audit report was presented Tuesday at 2:04 p.m., an one hour and a half before a special session for the selection of a House president, Rivera Ruiz de Porras said he didn’t inform the legislators about it because he didn’t know it had arrived. He also didn’t want to distribute the draft because it wasn’t the final report.
The interim speaker pledged to implement the necessary corrective actions after the release of these audits, but refused to consider layoffs, since “the people implicated here are not in the House.”
Benchmark also has a $21,250 contract with the House (2017-000032) for “information systems related services” to evaluate the House’s six to eight contracts related to information systems.