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Bechtel ordered to submit records

Inspector general eyes $68m in Big Dig charges

By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff, 2/19/2003


Bechtel's mistakes drive up cost overruns, and company profits.

Bechtel's fee overruns
Map of major conflicts
History of the contract
Contract modifications
Cross section of roadway
Construction cost overruns

State officials overlook and excuse Bechtel's mistakes for a decade.

Cost recoveries initiated

Powerfull allies help protect Bechtel and its bottom line.


This series has generated strong response from the state, the public, and Globe columnists.
More Globe coverage


On Feb. 20, 2003, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff issued a document disputing the findings of the "Easy Pass" series. Globe editor Martin Baron responded with a defense of the Globe's reporting.
Read Bechtel's statement
Read the Globe's statement


Building a reputation
Bechtel has never shied away from big construction projects, but worldwide achievements are accompanied by controversy.
See past Bechtel projects


Review cites flaws at Big Dig
Cerasoli charges Big Dig coverup
$1.4b overrun known in '99
Firm rejects call to offset costs
'99 memos warned of tunnel leaks

Officials disclose more defects
Lawsuit raises Big Dig questions
State to reopen deal with Bechtel
Big Dig hires quality manager
US knew of hidden expenses
Big Dig overrun just plain big
SEC probers to target Big Dig
Big Dig review to target overruns
Turnpike, firm set deal on leak cost

Contracts to be reviewed


Central Artery/Tunnel Project


Parsons Brinckerhoff

State Inspector General reports
On the history of the Central Artery/Tunnel project's finances:
On the Central Artery/Tunnel project's attempts to recover money for mistakes:

About "Scheme Z" bridge design

State oversight of the Big Dig

Mass. Turnpike Authority

The Artery Business Committee


On February 11, 2003, Globe reporter Raphael Lewis chatted with Boston.com readers about the Bechtel series.
Transcript of chat


Any tips? Let us know.
Phone: 617-929-3379
E-mail: bigdigtips@globe.com


Beyond the Big Dig   What happens to the ribbon of land being created by the depression of the Central Artery? A joint effort between The Boston Globe, MIT, and WCVB-TV explores.
A special report

Progress updates on the Big Dig. Info

State Inspector General Gregory W. Sullivan yesterday ordered Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the Big Dig's private sector manager, to turn over thousands of pages of documents detailing its role in six specific cost overruns totalling about $68 million.

The subpoena also directs state officials in charge of reviewing Bechtel's performance to provide Sullivan's office with their own documents covering the overruns.

The subpoena also seeks documents from the construction contractors involved in the six cases.

Last week, Sullivan issued a detailed report blaming Bechtel for a separate $65 million error on a single contract, covering the South Station area.

The inspector general described yesterday's subpoena as an escalation of his effort to determine whether Big Dig contractors -- and, in particular, Bechtel -- owe money to the state.

''This is the first time Bechtel will come under scrutiny this intensive,'' said Sullivan. ''Our goal is to recover every dollar rightfully belonging to the state taxpayers and tollpayers.'' A Bechtel spokesman declined to comment on the subpoena.

Sullivan's announcement came amid growing efforts by Governor Mitt Romney and the Legislature to scrutinize Bechtel/Parsons for possible refunds due to design or management mistakes on the $14.6 billion project.

Kurt Dettman, the Big Dig's chief counsel, announced yesterday that he will ask state Attorney General Thomas Reilly to assign lawyers to his office full time to pursue claims against constractors.

''We are now asking for lawyers to help us out on cost recovery,'' Dettman said.

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which oversees the Big Dig, wants to add the prestige and strength of the attorney general's office to gain refunds from Big Dig contractors, Dettman said.

Ann Donlan, Reilly's spokeswoman, could not be reached for comment following Dettman's announcement. Earlier yesterday, she said in an interview about Reilly's role at the Big Dig, ''We are willing to play a role in cost recovery, but we are relying on the Big Dig to point us in the right direction.''

Last week, Reilly lambasted Bechtel, saying the firm has ''outsmarted and outgunned'' the state in avoiding accountability while receiving huge fees. He also faulted the firm for a ''lack of candor,'' and urged a ''good, long look at Bechtel's performance.''

Bechtel's spokesman declined to comment on any aspect of the state's investigation into the overruns. In the past, top Bechtel officials have defended the firm's management of the project, for which it has been paid almost $2 billion, by saying it actually saved taxpayers more than $1 billion by shortening the project's schedule by more than a year.

Bechtel's chief operating officer, Adrian Zaccaria, is expected to arrive in Boston Friday from the firm's San Francisco headquarters to explain the company's management of the Big Dig to Romney, according to an administration official who asked not to be identified.

Sullivan, whose job calls on him to report on government waste and make recommendations to the governor and attorney general, said his subpoena covers six instances of cost overruns cited in a Globe series.

They are: the flooding of the Fort Point Channel during construction, which cost an estimated $41 million; the MBTA Greenline-tunnel ramp design conflict, $250,000; the failure to include the FleetCenter in design drawings, $991,000; design of Ted Williams Tunnel too short to connect, $307,000; faulty design of the underpinning of the existing Artery, $26 million; and design errors related to ventilation, electrical and sewer system work, at least $50,000.

Sean P. Murphy can be reached at smurph@globe.com.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 2/19/2003.
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