The City of Philadelphia continues its crackdown on abuses in its minority subcontracting program.
On May 6, the Philadelphia Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced that a former certified, minority-owned business, JHS & Sons Supply Co., was improperly used by ten other prime contractors on City contracts. The OIG previously exposed the improper arrangement between prime contractor William Betz Jr. Inc., and JHS, which resulted in a two-year debarment of the Betz firm. My earlier post on the OIG enforcement action against Betz can be found here.
The ten other contractors identified by the OIG are: Burke Plumbing & Heating, Inc.; Clements Brothers and Sister, Inc.; DMC Environmental Group, Inc.; Buzz Duzz Plumbing, Heating, & Air Conditioning, Inc.; Edward Hughes and Sons, Inc.; Martin Johnson Plumbing and Heating, Inc.; Paragon Contracting; J.J. Magnatta, Inc.; John Stevenson, Inc.; and S. Murawski & Sons. The contracts ranged in value from $100k to $350k. The OIG has reached agreements with eight of these ten prime contractors. JHS has also been removed from the City’s registry of certified, minority-owned contractors.
Inspector General Amy L. Kurland said of her office’s recent action:
It was clear from the beginning that this problem was widespread. These settlements meet our goal of ensuring that companies comply with our antidiscrimination requirements. Our mission is to bring companies into compliance, not to put them out of business.
This latest OIG enforcement action again illustrates the extreme peril that prime contractors face in using “pass-through” entities to satisfy the City’s minority subcontracting requirements. If you think you can get away with it, think again. The City will eventually catch up with you, and by then it will be too late to protect yourself.