The public agency that manages Orange County toll roads is launching an outside audit of the consulting bills acquired during the county's multi-million dollar public outreach campaign. During the campaign, consultants charged up to $185 an hour to read news stories.
Agency leaders gathered at a meeting Thursday to announce they would be letting the contract expire in June without renewing it, which one board member said would save $1.5 million.
Christina Shea, an Irvine councilwoman who chairs one of the government agency boards that make up the tollway authority, said a board committee had decided that a recent LA Times article and an internal review had raised enough questions to warrant an outside look by Irvine-based Hall & Co, the Times reports.
“We believe this is the proper thing for this agency to do,” Shea said.
City officials suspected that the consultants handling public outreach for the project were being overpaid with records showing a consultant was paid for 28 hours of work in a single day and others billed approximately 1,300 hours to read news from transportation stories.
Another consultant was paid by the agency at more than $3,000 a month to 'compile new stories at a rate of $90 an hour.'
San Clemente board members at Thursday's meeting sought a forensic audit that would look for criminal activity, demanding that the tollway agency seek reimbursement for any improper bills.
Read more at the LA Times.