The FBI is examining a lucrative contract for the collection of parking tickets for Los Angeles, city officials confirmed Monday.
The contract, held by Lockheed Information Management Services, expired last October and is being extended on a month-to-month basis because a City Council committee has failed to renew it or award it to a competing bidder.
Last summer, the city's Department of Transportation recommended award of a five-year contract to LIMS, a subsidiary of the giant defense contractor Lockheed Corp., despite lower bids from two competitors.
Two LIMS employees were questioned by FBI agents last week, according to Ed Rowe, general manager of the transportation department. Rowe said agents have not questioned any Department of Transportation employees or subpoenaed any records. He said he was informed of the inquiry by Lockheed officials.
Julie A. Scarzi, senior vice president of LIMS, said two "mid-level" employees were interviewed by the FBI last week, but declined to name them. Attorneys for the company were assured by the FBI and U.S. attorney's office that "Lockheed is not the target of any investigation," she said. Company officials have not questioned the employees about the subject of the FBI interviews, she said.
FBI spokesman Fred Reagan refused to comment on the matter.
Sources familiar with the inquiry said Monday that the agents questioned the Lockheed workers about dealings with city officials, and asked whether the officials had requested or been given money.
LIMS, based in Teaneck, N.J., has held the city's parking contract since September, 1985. Last year, the firm made a proposal for a new five-year contract at a cost of $49 million.
The Detroit-based Tixon Corp. made a bid of $42 million and Andersen Consulting, a joint-venture partnership based in Torrance, bid $43 million.
Parking officials with the city's Department of Transportation in August selected Lockheed as "clearly superior" to its two competitors, despite the higher cost, because of "the firm's proven experience and expertise." For some contracts, city officials are not required to pick the lowest bidder.
Lockheed was the company performing ticket collection services last year when The Times reported that $226.6 million in parking fines had gone uncollected in Los Angeles. Mayor Tom Bradley said the uncollected tickets, accumulated over a five-year period, could be a "jackpot" for the financially troubled city.
Competitors have waged a vigorous battle against award of a new contract to Lockheed and raised enough concerns that the city administrative office reviewed the proposals and transportation department's choice.
In a report last November, the city office found "no major problems" with the selection of Lockheed, but noted that the transportation department had "failed to explain in sufficient detail the reasons" for its conclusions and termed the department "overly critical" of the other bidders.
Al Izzi, president of Computil, a New Jersey-based company that would supply the ticket processing work for the Andersen Consulting group, said Monday, "I definitely felt there was bias in the way the proposals were evaluated."
The city's selection report said that Computil's team, which involved seven companies, could lapse into "a management-by-committee situation."
LIMS, previously known as Datacom Systems Corp., has been a leader in the parking collections field for a decade, though not without controversy.
In 1986, while known as Datacom, the company was implicated in a political corruption scandal involving New York City's parking violations bureau. Stanley M. Friedman, former Bronx Democratic chairman, was convicted of making cash payments to city officials to help Datacom win a contract for data processing of parking tickets.
The bribes were allegedly paid to Queens Borough President Donald Manes and Geoffrey G. Lindenauer, former deputy director of the parking violations bureau. Manes committed suicide three days after Lindenauer pleaded guilty to racketeering and other federal charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Former Datacom President Joseph Delario testified in court that he authorized bribes, but the company was not charged with any crime.