Investigation prompts Dept. of Procurement policy change - CBS46 News

Atlanta's Department of Procurement will change policy after CBS Atlanta News Investigation

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CBS Atlanta's Jennifer Mayerle uncovered a five minute search on the Internet could have saved the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department from buying more than 18,000 counterfeit smoke detectors. The exclusive investigation led to the recall. And it prompted an internal investigation in the Department of Procurement.

"I think we've got to do a better due diligence," said Adam Smith, Chief Procurement Officer for the city of Atlanta.

Smith readily admitted his department needs to do better.

"We purchase all of the goods and services for the city of Atlanta," said Smith.

When the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department needed smoke detectors, they went through Smith's office.

A CBS Atlanta exclusive investigation led by reporter Jennifer Mayerle uncovered the smoke detectors the fire rescue department bought and handed out were counterfeit. More than 18,000 of them went to high-risk, low-income areas. It happened on smiths watch.

"In the procurement world, we generally rely on the reputations of the company. We pretty much know if the company has a bad reputation," said Smith.

Then how did Silvers Sails slip by? The California company who won the bid already had a bad reputation. It's run by Bob and Judie Silver.  Bob has a lengthy criminal history.

CBS Atlanta uncovered years before doing business with Atlanta, the Silvers and Silver Sails were put on the federal Excluded Parties Systems List. It banned them from doing business with the federal government.

General Services Administration manages the list. GSA Inspector General Brian Miller said it's vital all agencies check it.

"It can be very fast and very simple. You don't want to do business with an irresponsible company or individual. You don't want to put the public in danger," said Miller.

It took less than five minutes for Mayerle to find Silver Sails on the list. She typed in the company name and a list of people associated with it came up, including Robert and Judie Silver.

"Based on seeing this information, do you think the department should have done things differently?" Mayerle asked Smith.

"I think what we have to do going forward is we have to establish a more aggressive reference check," said Smith.

Smith said he plans to change his department's policy to include checking the list, among other changes.

"There are going to be issues that come up and when those issues come up, you take drastic measures to correct them. In a situation like this, we have no choice but to take every effort to move forward to make sure this never, ever happens again," said Smith.

Smith said he thinks other agencies can learn from this as well. Smith said he'll give us the new policy once it's drafted.

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