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Atlanta vendor jacked up costs after winning unbid contract

A small Atlanta company that got $10 million in city business without bids or City Council oversight charged nearly double what it had proposed for much of the work, documents show.

The city paid TDC Systems Integration Inc. $2.7 million to supply technical staff at Hartsfield International Airport after rejecting proposals from four competing firms.

The work at Hartsfield, like most of TDC's city business, was awarded without a formal contract. Payments to the technology company were made over a seven-month period, from September 1999 to March 2000.

TDC supplied technical staff to the airport at rates that ranged from $105 to $175 an hour. The company had proposed rates ranging from $57 to $95 an hour, according to city documents.

The latest revelation comes as the City Council's Finance/Executive Committee is to begin investigating TDC's relationship with the city. The committee, which meets today, is to issue a report within 30 days.

Council President Robb Pitts ordered the inquiry last week after the Journal-Constitution reported the city sidestepped the normal bidding process in awarding a $10 million contract to TDC by designating much of the work "Y2K emergency."

City purchasing director Felicia Strong-Whitaker defended her handling of the TDC work. "It was done as an emergency and was done as Y2K," she said, even though much of the work was done in the year 2000.

The airport was losing technical staff and facing an emergency as 1999 was ending, she said.

Strong-Whitaker said airport Deputy General Manager Mario Diazr asked that the work be designated as an emergency to speed the hiring of technical help. Emergency work does not require bids, formal contracts or council approval.

Strong-Whitaker said she granted the emergency designation. But neither Diaz's request nor her response to it was in the city's files. Strong-Whitaker promised to find the letters but had not done so by Tuesday.

Representatives for two of the companies that competed with TDC for the airport work said they were never informed the work was an emergency.

In June 1999, Strong-Whitaker said, the city asked several firms for proposals to supply technical support to the airport's computer operations. Five companies, including TDC, responded with offers and prices by July 21, 1999.

A month later, Diaz told Strong-Whitaker that TDC's proposal was "the only responsive proposal and one which meets our requirements."

Based on Diaz's memo, Strong-Whitaker said, TDC was awarded the work without going through a formal contract.

TDC's proposal to the city in July offered technical staff at hourly rates ranging from $95 an hour for a "systems integrator" to $57 an hour for "help desk" and "desktop support."

But TDC charged the city $175 an hour for the systems integrator and $105 an hour for help desk and desktop support, city records show.

TDC President Antonio Dozier could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

-- Rachel Gibson (, February 28, 2001

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