Wednesday, February 06, 2008

More on Colicelli's Contract

Yesterday, Trenton City Councilman Jim Coston let it be known that the contract for Barry Colicelli and his On Target Law Enforcement and Security Consulting Company was up for renewal. If the new contract is approved at Thursday's Council meeting, not only will it be for a discounted rate (about 32% less) than the previous contract, but the term will be for two years instead of one.

Sounds like a deal except for one thing, what do we get for our money?

Looking at a copy of the previous contract which actually expired back in December of 2007, we find the following items:

The contract is between the City of Trenton (Client) and On Target Law Enforcement and Security Consulting (contractor).

The services are to be provided by Barry Colicelli personally who will charge a rate of $75 per hour.

The total amount of the contract shall not exceed $91,000 (That is the equivalent of 1213.33333 billed hours)

The client (City of Trenton) will provide the following: an office, computer, mobile phone and loaned vehicle (car). (We're assuming the City owned car--a crown victoria--is fueled with city gas, but it isn't spelled out in the contract. We did see a copy of an expense report where Mr. Colicelli was being reimbursed for gas for a trip to Washington D.C.)

The Client will reimburse the Contractor for travel expenses.

The contract spells out the scope of work for the contractor as "providing direct assistance to the City of Trenton and its departments in the formulation of a comprehensive collaboration of City services to address the at-risk youth and adult gang-involved populations within the City."

Ok. So we hired somebody to help us shape a process to address a problem. We gave him a car to commute 50 miles each way, a cell phone, computers and an office in City Hall. And he attends meetings.

Now, we'll be positive here and state that sometimes you need an outside voice to identify and coordinate new ways of doing things. And along the way, there should be training and preparation of existing personnel to carry those initiatives forward.
The contractor should not be a perpetual rehire for the same scope of work with no measurable progress shown.

We've also had the opportunit to review some of Mr. Colicelli's invoices to the City from 2006 and 2007. Interestingly, the 14 monthly invoices we reviewed were strikingly similar in that they followed a template so closely as to be nearly perfect copies of one another. Some dates were changed, one initiative or task force meeting might be substitued for another from month to month, but they were each one for the same exact amount: $7,583.

Now that's an interesting number: $7,583 each month. No break down of how many hours (at $75 per) spent on each item on the invoice, just a total amount of $7,583.

If you divide that by the hourly rate, you get 101.106667 hours a month. Each and every month. Most professionals I know of that bill by the hour will calculate to the nearest quarter hour. But not Mr. Colicelli. He bills to the exact amount, and it totals precisely 101.106667 hours per month.

And if that isn't odd enough, try this little math exercise. Multiply the $7,583 per month by the 12 months in a calendar year and you get $90,996. That is just four dollars short of the maximum $91,000 allowed under the contract.

Coincidence?

And then there are the travel reimbusements. Mr. Colicelli went to conferences in New Orleans and Washington D.C. last year on the City of Trenton's tab. This cost us another $1,300 plus.

And again the question has to be asked, what benefit has the City received from Mr. Colicelli's services? What benefit that we couldn't have just as easily obtained from a bona fide employee of the City of Trenton without the extra cost?

In a City struggling to make ends meet; where people will often say they are not getting their money's worth from City employees; how can we justify the continued expense of this "consultant?"

And if his work is so good and he has been so effective, why are we looking to grant him a fourth contract?

If we have benefited so much from hiring this consultant, why are we suddenly able to get him for two years and two thirds the cost?

Oh, and does it mean anything that Mr. Colicelli donated at least $1,300.00 to Mayor Palmer's re-election campaign in 2006?

It adds up to one thing and one thing only, patronage of the worst kind.

3 comments:

Chrissy said...

I serve as an independent consultant for one of my clients, and I must -- as in I will not get paid if I don't -- break down my invoices with the minutest of details: what projects I worked on, the dates I worked on those projects, the number of hours spent on each project, the number of revisions on each project, the amount of communication (email, phone calls, overnight couriers, etc) needed to complete each project. I do not get a car, or gas, or even reimbursed for every little thing -- that's the stuff for my taxes, and I factored in how much extra stuff (driving, phone calls) I need to do for this client and factored it into my hourly rate.

Yes, that's Corporate America, and not government work, but there is no good reason our financially struggling city should be the friggin' bottomless feedbag strapped to mouth of a totally extraneous consultant. Sheesh.

Old Mill Hill said...

You're absolutely correct, Chrissy.

And if you want more "proof" of how sloppily the Colecilli contract is handled, check this out: http://www.trentonfacts.com/colicelli.htm

Irving Bertrand Clean said...

Not to pile on or anything, but any of my clients would laugh at me for submitting such a string of dubious invoices. Then they'd probably fire me.

It's pretty funny how I loathe justifying my time down to the quarter hour, but Colicelli has sufficient time on his hands to break it down to the ".107th" of an hour (that 6:25.2, for those of you keeping score at phone).