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School Board Votes to Probe Joint Venture

June 26, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles school board Tuesday ordered the district's auditor to investigate the selection of a controversial joint venture for three construction management contracts worth $33 million.

The board's 6-0 vote for an audit came a day after a Times report that 3DInternational Inc. and URS Corp. was dismissed from a school modernization job in Baltimore after complaints of lax supervision.

Facilities officials at Los Angeles Unified said they were unaware of the partnership's problems in Maryland because they surfaced last month after the firms became finalists in Los Angeles.

3D/International was one of 21 firms recommended to share $230 million in contracts for management of school construction.

Supt. Roy Romer said the district didn't err in its selection. Despite the problems, he said, officials have identified qualified individuals within the companies.

"If we hear that the team in Maryland screwed up, it doesn't mean we shouldn't deal with them," he said. "That doesn't mean the whole company is corrupted."

In 2000, the district auditor reported that 3D/I and O'Brien Kreitzberg--a predecessor of URS Corp.--had overbilled L.A. Unified.

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