In response to a complaint about the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority’s legal expenses and contracting processes, the New York Inspector General’s Office has issued an audit report that slam’s the agency’s management and Board.
The BMHA has spent millions on legal fees in recent years. The report just issued looked only at about $300,000 in contracts for legal work, but found egregious shortcomings in the agency’s management practices.
Dawn Sanders-Garrett, the agency’s executive director, is coming under intense scrutiny. She has long been called “incompetent” by residents of the authority’s housing projects, which have long been a symbol of dysfunction. Residents are demanding that she resign and that the Board appoints a competent property manager with relevant experience.
Authority officials made payments for outside legal services without documenting that these services could not be performed by the Authority’s internal general counsel and without ensuring full and open competition.
The report recommends that the Director of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Buffalo Office of Public Housing “instruct Authority officials” to “strengthen procedures to ensure that legal services provided by outside firms are obtained in accordance with Federal procurement requirements.”
BHMA has been unable to “provide documentation to support the need for… assistance from outside legal counsel and that the services were obtained through full and open competition in accordance with Federal procurement regulations.”
The New York Inspector General’s Report: 2015-NY-1003-2.