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«INVESTIGATIVE REPORT MILEAGE CHARGES ASSOCIATED WITH THE HAULING OF SUPERSTORM SANDY DEBRIS A. Matthew Boxer September 10, 2013 COMPTROLLER TABLE OF ...»

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STATE OF NEW JERSEY

OFFICE OF THE STATE COMPTROLLER

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT

MILEAGE CHARGES ASSOCIATED WITH

THE HAULING OF

SUPERSTORM SANDY DEBRIS

A. Matthew Boxer September 10, 2013

COMPTROLLER

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Introduction and Executive Summary

II. Background

III. Methodology

IV. Investigative Findings

A. Is it Reasonable to Include Mileage Traveled Inside the Ocean County Landfill in Debris Transport Mileage Calculations?

B. Is it Reasonable to Round-Up Debris Transport Mileage Calculations?

C. Did the Debris Monitors Utilize Appropriate Haul Transport Mileage Calculation Methods?

1. Louis Berger and Witt O’Brien’s

2. Arcadis

V. Conclusions

VI. Recommendations

i I. Introduction and Executive Summary The Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) initiated this investigation after receiving a referral from the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding (GORR) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The referrals were based on media reports indicating that municipalities in Ocean County, New Jersey were being overcharged for Superstorm Sandy (Sandy) debris removal services. AshBritt, Inc. (AshBritt) was the debris hauler responsible for removing and disposing of that Sandy-related debris, while three debris- removal monitors, Arcadis U.S., Inc., the Louis Berger Group, Inc. and Witt O’Brien’s, LLC, were responsible for monitoring the services provided by AshBritt to these Ocean County municipalities.

As explained in detail in this report, OSC’s investigation found no persuasive evidence of intentional overbilling for the debris removal services, but did reveal a series of miscalculations and other erroneous and questionable debris-removal charges that had been submitted and paid.

In total, the miscalculations and similar overcharges amounted to more than $300,000. OSC’s investigation further revealed that vague language in the debris-removal contract, the lack of specific standards setting forth a payment calculation methodology and logistical factors unique to Ocean County all contributed to initial indications of intentional overbilling as well as to some of the questionable charges. At the conclusion of this report, OSC makes recommendations to address the deficiencies we identified.

II. Background Beginning on October 28, 2012 and continuing through October 30, 2012, Sandy struck New Jersey, causing severe damage and destroying entire communities. Shortly thereafter, the

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other property. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defines debris as “[i]tems and materials broken, destroyed, or displaced by a natural or man-made Federally declared disaster,” including items such as “trees, construction and demolition material, and personal property.” On October 31, 2012, the State entered into an emergency contract with AshBritt for the removal and disposal of such debris (AshBritt contract). The AshBritt contract incorporated the terms of a 2008 contract between AshBritt and the State of Connecticut (Connecticut contract), including its pricing schedule and scope of work. That pricing schedule had been developed by Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in consultation with FEMA.

Prices were based on the type and quantity of debris to be removed, as well as on the mileage the debris was to be hauled for disposal.

Pursuant to the scope of work provision in the AshBritt contract, AshBritt was to collect debris from public roads and public property and haul it either to temporary debris sites or to final disposal facilities. Debris that could not immediately be segregated and sorted for final disposal purposes was hauled to the temporary debris sites for storage and sorting. Such temporary debris sites frequently are established during a state-of-emergency after it is determined that events have overwhelmed a community’s ability to absorb the amount of debris resulting from a disaster. AshBritt was responsible for sorting the debris and transporting it from the temporary debris site to the appropriate final recycling or disposal facility. Initial reports of overbilling by AshBritt involved the hauling of construction and demolition (C&D) debris from various temporary debris sites to the final disposal facility, and this report focuses specifically on those charges.

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governments access to AshBritt’s debris hauling services. On November 15, 2012, Ocean County utilized the cooperative contract and entered into an agreement with AshBritt. The county also entered into shared services agreements that permitted a series of Ocean County municipalities to utilize the services of AshBritt and that designated Ocean County as the contract administrator for those municipalities.

Pursuant to the terms of the Connecticut contract that were incorporated, payment for the debris-hauling services was determined by the distance that debris was transported from temporary debris sites to the final disposal facility. Each of the temporary debris sites reviewed by OSC as part of this investigation was selected as a temporary site by local government officials and was approved by the DEP. AshBritt and the debris monitors were not involved with those selections.





Pursuant to a designation made by Ocean County, the final disposal facility in the county was the Ocean County Landfill (OCL), which is located in Manchester, New Jersey. Thus, unless the debris was to be transported out-of-state, AshBritt was required by Ocean County’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Plan, which was reviewed and approved by DEP, to use the OCL. Ocean County officials told OSC that to transport such debris out-of-state would have been cost-prohibitive and thus was not a viable alternative to the OCL.

The specific price for the hauling services varied based on the actual distance that debris was transported from the various municipalities’ temporary debris sites to the OCL. For example, the price for C&D debris transported between 0 and 15 miles from a temporary debris site to the OCL is set by the AshBritt contract at $31.25 per ton (referred to in this report as the “Tier 1 rate”). The price increased to $40.63 per ton for debris transported between 16 and 30

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AshBritt contract for non-asbestos-containing C&D, the most common form of Sandy debris transported to the OCL, is set forth below (temporary debris sites are also known as Temporary Debris Storage and Reduction Sites, which is abbreviated below as TDSRS and highlighted

accordingly):

This pricing schedule was in effect for all of the billings that are the subject of this investigation.

In June 2013, FEMA announced its intention to reimburse New Jersey governmental entities for up to 90 percent of their debris removal costs attributable to Sandy, provided that certain eligibility requirements are satisfied. To facilitate such reimbursement, FEMA previously has issued guidance documents. For example, FEMA has created a sample bid sheet

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sheet (temporary debris sites are also known as Debris Management Sites, which is abbreviated

below as DMS):

Thus, like the pricing schedule in the AshBritt contract, the FEMA sample bid sheet calls for different pricing components for debris transportation depending on whether the distance is “0 or “16-30” miles. FEMA guidance materials do not set forth specific recommended rates to be charged, but simply require that all charged costs be “reasonable.” FEMA has described a reasonable cost as one that “in its nature and amount does not exceed that which would be incurred by a prudent person under the circumstances prevailing at the time the decision was made to incur the cost.”

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FEMA to monitor debris removal services to ensure that all applicable eligibility requirements are satisfied. This requirement typically is met through the use of debris monitoring companies.

Such companies review the invoices submitted by vendors such as AshBritt. The debris monitors are responsible for calculating, among other things, the transport mileage supporting an invoice and must recommend payment in order for money to be paid to debris-hauling vendors by a local government entity. This process occurs before a reimbursement request is made to FEMA. As of the date of this report, this process is ongoing, with many of AshBritt’s invoices having been recommended for payment by the debris monitors, paid by the local government entity and submitted to FEMA for reimbursement.

Shortly after Sandy struck New Jersey, the State entered into agreements that made these debris monitoring services available to local governments through the cooperative contracting process. Specifically, in November 2012, the State entered into a cooperative debris monitoring contract with Arcadis U.S., Inc. (Arcadis) and expanded existing State contracts with the Louis Berger Group, Inc. (Louis Berger) and Witt O’Brien’s, LLC (Witt O’Brien’s) (formerly known as O’Brien’s, Inc.) to explicitly encompass debris monitoring services. Through Ocean County’s shared services agreements, several Ocean County municipalities utilized the debris monitoring services of Louis Berger, with whom the county itself also entered into an agreement. A smaller number of Ocean County municipalities directly entered into agreements with Arcadis and one municipality entered into a contract with Witt O’Brien’s.

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On May 2, 2013, OSC received a referral from GORR requesting an investigation of AshBritt’s debris hauling practices in Ocean County based on media reports regarding potential overbilling. Specifically, it was requested that OSC review the “hauling and/or billing practices of AshBritt” and determine whether the debris monitors “failed to identify or report these alleged practices.” OSC also subsequently received a similar referral from DEP. In view of these referrals, the impact on taxpayers stemming from these hauling charges and the evident public interest in resolution of these issues, OSC commenced an investigation.

On May 8, 2013, Ocean County’s debris monitoring consultant, Louis Berger, issued a report entitled “Review of Debris Hauling Distances for Ocean County.” The report, which was presented to the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders at a public meeting, generally concluded that the AshBritt invoices for debris transport were accurate and appropriate. The issues addressed in that report were considered by OSC and are discussed herein.

Based upon our preliminary review of available information, we focused our investigation on the following issues to determine whether AshBritt’s billing practices and the

debris monitors’ subsequent review were appropriate:

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County municipalities for a more thorough review, based in part on the proximity of each municipality’s temporary debris site(s) to the OCL. Below is a list of those selected municipalities, each of which utilized the services of AshBritt and a debris monitor as noted

below:

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In completing this investigation, OSC obtained and reviewed voluminous documents, emails and other information from DEP, Ocean County, various municipalities, AshBritt and each of the debris monitors. OSC also interviewed numerous State, county and municipal officials, employees and representatives of AshBritt and the debris monitors, and FEMA officials, among others.

This report does not focus on the State’s procurement of debris hauling and monitoring services, but rather on debris transport mileage calculation issues. Those procurement-related issues are being separately audited by the United States Department of Homeland Security Inspector General. OSC may additionally review issues that are not specifically addressed in this report at a later date as warranted.

A draft of this report was provided to each of the entities mentioned in the report. The debris monitors and AshBritt generally concurred with the findings of the report and provided a series of recommended language revisions. OSC also received comments from a series of

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report. All comments we received were considered in the preparation of this final report and have been incorporated herein where appropriate.

IV. Investigative Findings

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One area of reported concern has been whether Ocean County municipalities were overcharged for debris hauling because mileage traveled inside the OCL had been included for mileage computation purposes. This issue is of particular significance at the OCL because of the substantial distance at that facility from the facility gate to the area within the landfill where debris is actually unloaded, which is referred to as the landfill’s “face.” Of 12 other New Jersey landfills that OSC contacted, 9 reported that the distance between the entrance and the landfill face was 0.75 miles or less, and the 3 other landfills reported the distance to be no more than 1.4 miles. As will be discussed herein, the distance from the OCL gate to the face is significantly further than at these other landfills, and including that distance in mileage computations qualified AshBritt for Tier 2 pricing in multiple instances.

The AshBritt contract itself does not specifically address whether to include mileage driven within a landfill in hauling mileage calculations. The contract simply calls for the debris monitors to calculate the “appropriate haul distance based on transport mileage.” The debris monitors interpreted the contract such that mileage driven inside the OCL itself would be included when calculating final debris transport mileage. For example, Louis

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