Report 97106 Summary - July 1997

California Department of Transportation: Some Internal Audit Recommendations Have Been Implemented, but Inconsistencies Exist in Its Contracting for Expert Witness Services (Letter Report)


Our audit reviewed whether or not the California State Department of Transportation (Caltrans) adopted the three recommendations its Audits and Investigations Division made in a March 10, 1995, interim audit report that studied Caltrans' contracts with Boster, Kobayashi & Associates (Boster), a company that provides expert witness services for accident reconstruction in court cases. We found that for two contracts with Boster written since the report, two of the three recommendations had been adopted, specifically that:

· Boster modified its rate structure to reflect the level of expertise and its underlying costs for individual employees; and

· Caltrans implemented requirements for equipment purchases that were more comprehensive as to dollar amount but less so as to equipment life.

Caltrans did not implement the report's third recommendation, however, which denied compensation for travel time.

In studying 26 out of 514 contracts, Caltrans' Legal Division (legal division) entered into between July 1, 1995, and May 8, 1997, to determine if these recommendations for Boster had been implemented department-wide for expert witness services, we found that:

· The contractor's rate structures were reasonably tied to the level of expertise, the services to be provided, and the underlying costs of their employees;

· All of the contracts entered into after September 1995, contained the clause regarding equipment purchased by contractors, as required by the Service Contracts Manual; and

· Caltrans did not consistently incorporate a clause to address compensation of travel time for its expert witnesses.

We were unable to assess Caltrans' selection process for its expert witness consultants because it has not formally adopted written policies. In addition, for those contracts entered into after the interim audit, Caltrans was unable to provide documentation to support its selection process for determining the best contractor.

The results of our review indicate that although Caltrans has implemented two of the three recommendations for Boster and its other expert witness consultants, it has not incorporated a clause to address compensation of travel time for all its contractors, nor has it formally adopted procedures to assist its staff in selecting these contractors or in negotiating the rates and terms of the contracts.