The Atlanta City Council is working to make reforms to increase transparency amid investigations into the procurement process and an “illegal” distribution of bonuses, Council President Felicia Moore said at the April 26 Buckhead Business Association breakfast. The city has lost numerous documents as a result of March’s cyber attack on city systems that, in at least one case, pertain to the bonus investigation, Moore said.
“We did lose a lot of info,” she said. Moore has not yet gotten confirmation from the city on what is exactly was lost in the cyber attack. But one document reported lost is a law department memo regarding the legality of bonuses distributed by former Mayor Kasim Reed.
Reed distributed more than $500,000 in bonuses and other gifts, which Moore said she is sure was illegal because the city council did not approve the spending.
“I’d liken it to the mayor taking a basket of money and standing on top of City Hall and just throwing it over the side and people on the street caught it,” she said.
She asked the law department to advise the city council on any action they can take to provide “remedies” to the situation, Moore said. The law department should be able to provide information on what the lost memo said, she said.
“Someone knows what the memo said. Someone wrote it. I never got an understanding of what it concluded,” she said.
In effort to increase transparency amid the investigations, Moore said, the city council has introduced legislation that would require the council to approve any contracts with outside law firms if it is over $50,000. Another would hire two to three independent procurement officers that would note deficiencies in the city’s procurement documents and contractor recommendations in a report to city council, Moore said.
The procurement department has been the target of a federal investigation that has led to charges against the city’s former chief purchasing officer and two city vendors.
“In this environment, the more independent review we can have, the more trust we can have in the information we receive,” she said.
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