State Audit Says Railroad Contracts at Vermont Agency of Transportation Could Be Managed BetterAgency did not competitively bid $7.2 million in construction work; did not charge interest on late lease payments; and did not collect salvage proceeds properly, among audit findingsMONTPELIER (December 5, 2008) – The Office of Vermont State Auditor Tom Salmon, CPA, reported today that oversight of railroad construction contracts in the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is inadequate and is costing the State money.”One conclusion of the audit is that the Rail Division is not ensuring that the required competitive bidding in these contracts is taking place,” said Deputy State Auditor George Thabault. “Contracts are being ‘sole-sourced’ and this denies other companies the opportunity to compete for State contracts, and may be keeping the State from getting the best price for goods and services.”The rail audit was conducted following a request made by VTrans that the State Auditor investigate the deficiencies of its rail section and suggest improvements.”We recognized that we had some issues within our Rail Division that needed correcting, and requested the Auditor’s assistance,” said VTrans Secretary David Dill. “On our own, we were unable to clearly identify our weaknesses in a way that both we and the railroads could understand. Our goal is to use the findings of this report as a catalyst to forge a new and better relationship with the companies that run our rail systems.”The audit report noted four key findings:1. VTrans and its railroad subcontractors did not follow procurement regulations designed to foster open, competitive bidding, resulting in $7.2 million of recent contracts with Vermont Railway and one of its affiliates not being competitively bid. The largest no-bid contract – for $4,677,727 – was also issued without the required approval of the Secretary of the Agency of Administration.2. Oversight and administration of rail contracts need improvement. For example, auditors found that $82,401 from rail project salvage proceeds was being held by Vermont Railway to offset against future invoices rather than being returned to the State as required by contract. (The Agency has since discontinued the practice of allowing the netting of salvage credits and has adopted new procedures to promptly receive and account for salvage payments.)3. Lease revenues and agreed-to performance requirements of leaseholders are not being verified, and VTrans has forgone $37,000 in interest stemming from late payments of monthly leases for State-owned track.4. The Agency did not adequately follow up on past audits which reported $436,000 of questioned costs related to contracts with Vermont Railway.For the project, auditors selected four contracts totaling $7.2 million dollars, approximately 44 percent of the total active rail construction and railway upgrade contracts during fiscal years 2007 and 2008. All contracts were between VTrans and Vermont Railway and Green Mountain Railroad, two companies of the Vermont Rail System (VRS), a privately held, affiliated group of short-line rail transportation companies that operates in Vermont.Auditors recommended that AOT strengthen and clarify the language within its rail agreements, improve the oversight of contracts, enforce penalties for violations of the terms and conditions of its contracts and lease agreements, and provide for better fiscal management of its contractors and service providers.In its response to the report, the Agency of Transportation generally agreed with the report’s recommendations and pledged to provide the State Auditor with quarterly status reports on corrective actions.”VTrans already has put in place new business practices that correct some of the Auditor’s concerns, and we certainly will make additional changes to rectify the remaining deficiencies,” Dill said. “VTrans recently hired a new Rail Program Manager, and one of his top priorities is to improve our rail business operations.”Background:The oversight of the railway network in Vermont is the responsibility of the Vermont Agency of Transportation Rail Program. Vermont’s rail system consists of approximately 748 miles of track or rail right-of-way. The State owns approximately 427 miles, of which 305 miles are currently active. Ten railroad companies operate or have the rights to operate on the rail lines in Vermont.For Fiscal Year 2009, the AOT total budget is $412.2 million. The Rail Section is allocated $16.8 million of this budget. The Rail Section currently has eight staff positions of a total of approximately 1,050 positions in the Agency. The complete audit report is available at www.auditor.vermont.gov(link is external). Click on “Audits & Reports” and then “Special Audits” to access the new audit report.
By Dru BrownBILLINGS, Mont. (June 4) – A strong run from start to finish put Travis Davis in Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified victory lane Saturday at Billings Motorsports Park.Davis rocketed to the top spot at the drop of the green while Beau Nave was quickly in second with Jeremy Meirhofer in third, moving to the bottom line to try to make things happen.Hank Berry started all the way back in the 10th position but that hardly slowed him down. Berry challenging Nave for second and eventually wrestled it away. Another yellow flag halted the action, and on this restart Meirhofer again stuck his car to the bottom lane but to no avail.Berry was sizing up Travis Davis in every corner, but the laps were quickly ticking away. He finally got a run on Davis but lapped traffic caused Berry to slam on the brakes and Davis flew by again.A quick yellow waved and on the restart Davis and Berry again separated from the field. Berry gave it everything he had in the final set of turns but Davis was too strong and took the win.Berry was a very close second and Dale Neitzel climbed all the way to third after a thrilling first lap. Finishing fourth was Meirhofer and fifth was Kenny Baumann.
THE upcoming Inter-Guiana ‘Goodwill’ Games will get started with the basketball competition at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH), while volleyball will be held simultaneously at the National Gymnasium, when that event begins here in Guyana on October 21 and runs until October 23. Both competitions start off at 13:00hrs, at their respective venues, while activities continue later the same day with the opening ceremony at the National Track and Field Centre in Leonora, starting at 18:00hrs.The athletics component will begin immediately after at 19:00hrs, according to the schedule that was announced by Director of Sport, Christopher Jones, at a press briefing held yesterday at the National Sports Commission (NSC) headquarters.The press conference also had in attendance representatives from each of the seven sporting disciplines that will be participating at this year’s Games, as well as representatives from the various sponsors on board for the event.As the schedule of the events continues badminton, which will also be at the National Gymnasium, gets underway, on Saturday, October 22 at 09:00hrs. This will be followed by the continuation of the male and female volleyball matches.Back at the CASH the futsal football begins at 13:00hrs, and will be followed by the continuation of the basketball competition. Swimming will commence and conclude on Sunday, October 23, at the National Aquatic Centre. Also set for Sunday is volleyball at the Gymnasium and futsal, table tennis, and basketball at CASH.The closing ceremony is set for 20:00hrs.Jones noted that all the disciplines have been busy putting together, and preparing, their teams for the Games, where they will compete against their counterparts from Suriname.Representatives from the different teams were also on hand to speak of how the preparations have been coming along.Speaking on behalf of the table tennis was national coach Linden Johnson, who declared that his team will not be taking the abilities of the Suriname team for granted, and will be working assiduously to groom the Guyana team.Johnson noted that the team is one that has shown much promise and several of the players recently performed at the regional level.Swimming team manager Leon Seaton described the team as a “vibrant” one, though the team suffered a blow as three of the selected swimmers had to be replaced. Swimmers Amy Grant, Philip DeNobrega and Nathan Hackett will no longer be on the team They are being replaced by Nikita Fiedtkou, Daniel Scott and Jamal Skeete.Athletics has already named a 28-member team, while Guyana Badminton Association (GBA) president Gokarn Ramdhani said training for the eight-member badminton team has been going excellently.Jones also took the opportunity at yesterday’s briefing to thank the corporate sponsors who have come on board to throw their support behind the event. Sponsors include Digicel, Banks DIH, Impressions, and E-Networks
The idea of Julian Draxler coming to Arsenal is thrilling some Gooners 1 The idea of Julian Draxler playing for Arsenal has filled some Gooners with delight.Wolfsburg and Germany’s midfielder has been linked with a £43m transfer to north London and fans are already thinking about how the attack might look.Draxler, who has only been at Wolfsburg since 2015, has been linked with the Gunners before, and manager Arsene Wenger may finally get his man if his bosses find the cash to tempt the Germans to sell.Take a look at some of the comments Gooners have been making about the prospect of Draxler signing…