A copy of Broward Inspector General John Scott's report on the county's Office of Economic and Small Business Development went out today, and it ain't pretty.
The report claims "gross mismanagement" within the office, which Scott says has been going on since 2007, and continues to the present day.
In just one instance, Scott's report states that the county awarded a broker nearly $750,000 in county contracts. By broker, Scott says it's just a guy -- no business space, warehouse, or employees -- just some guy buying things and reselling them to the county at a higher price.
This guy, Jose de la Riva Aguero, had somehow gotten his company -- Everytrade -- certified by the agency, although the report claims it was "improperly certified."
Most of the $750,000 worth of contracts Everytrade received needed the proper "Small Business Enterprise" certification to win those contracts.
Scott goes on to say that the county agency "routinely failed" to certify its vendors, failed to develop suitable guidelines for the certification, ignored any exploitation of its certification process, and probably would never have figured it out because the agency's record-keeping practices were lacking.
"In theory, the [Small Business Enterprise] Program is a salutary scheme intended to create home-grown County economic growth," the report says. "Unfortunately, by allowing brokers to avail themselves of advantages carefully tailored to benefit deserving small businesses, the [Office of Economic and Small Business Development] has undermined the very policies the Broward County Commission sought to effectuate when it created the SBE Program."
Scott claims the agency "has chosen to employ rubber stamp management practices at the expense, and risk, of County funds."
According to interviews Scott did throughout his investigation, he noted that he was "particularly concerned" that employees of the agency were confused about how this whole Small Business Enterprise Program works.
Scott's report recommends that the employees of the agency get it together and draft policies and figure out how the agency is supposed to operate.
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