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Dracut Selectman Airs Concerns About Possible Violations In Procurement Procedures

Aug 14, 2019 05:13PM ● By Lisa Redmond

Dracut Selectman Joseph DiRocco

DRACUT – Selectman Joseph DiRocco raised red flags that the town may be violating the state procurement procedures which requires projects of more than $50,000 to be awarded based on quotes and not being posted for public bids.

“The law says projects over $50,000 have to go out to bid, but they didn’t, they got three quotes,’’ DiRocco told his fellow board members on Tuesday.

According to the state website, under Mass. General Laws Chapter 30B, officials need to seek at least three written quotes for services between $10,000 and $50,000, but a sealed bid process is required for any services of more than $50,000.

DiRocco has a list of town projects he believes should have come under the public bid process, including: Beaver Brook Trail, the fire station, the old police station, Nashua Road and the demolition of the old Milk Barn, which cost more than $70,000. One company, RSG Contracting Corp. in Lowell, appears to have been awarded the bulk of the contracts a total of about $151,000, DiRocco said.

DiRocco suggested it looks like “favoritism.’’

According to the Mass. Secretary of State’s Office, RSG Contracting Corp. is listed as being owned and operated by Stephen A. Guerrette. No one from RSG Contracting could not be reached for comment.

Chairman Jesse Forcier said the “most alarming’’ thing to him is that there are contracts going to “someone who has a connection to the DPW.’’ He added its “playing with fire.’’

DiRocco said he raised the issue because he was “disappointed’’ with Town Manager James Duggan’s handling of the matter considering DiRocco spoke to Duggan about his concerns a year ago after several contractors approached him to complain that projects weren’t being publicly advertised for bid. More recently, the same complaints were raised again by contractors.

Duggan said he takes full responsibility. “The buck stops with me,’’ he said.

Duggan explained that he has taken corrective action by appointing a procurement compliance officer who is the first person to review what goods and services need quotes or bids to ensure adherence to the public procurement law. In addition, some staff members will go through the training for a procurement certification, he said.

While the issue will continue to be investigated as to possible violations, Selectman Tony Archinski vented his anger at being blindsided by the issue.

“I have no idea what he (DiRocco) is talking about,’’ Archinski said. Accusing DiRocco of pointing the finger in the direction of the DPW, Archinski asked DiRocco, “Are you alleging wrongdoing or just the procedure wasn’t followed?’’

DiRocco responded, “It appears to be some favoritism.’’

Archinski noted that DiRocco could have included some information in the selectmen’s packet so it could be reviewed beforehand. DiRocco agreed to provide each selectman with a copy of his paperwork so the issue can be discussed at the next meeting.

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