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Bechtel / Parsons seeks to block release of audits

Senate panel wants data on overbilling

By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff, 4/4/2003

   
 THE SERIES

PART ONE
Bechtel's mistakes drive up cost overruns, and company profits.

Graphics
Bechtel's fee overruns
Map of major conflicts
History of the contract
Contract modifications
Cross section of roadway
Construction cost overruns


PART TWO
State officials overlook and excuse Bechtel's mistakes for a decade.

Graphic
Cost recoveries initiated


PART THREE
Powerfull allies help protect Bechtel and its bottom line.

 FOLLOW-UPS

This series has generated strong response from the state, the public, and Globe columnists.
More Globe coverage

 GLOBE DEFENSE OF SERIES

On Feb. 20, 2003, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff issued a document disputing the findings of the "Easy Pass" series. Globe editor Martin Baron responded with a defense of the Globe's reporting.
Read Bechtel's statement
Read the Globe's statement

 PHOTO GALLERY

Building a reputation
Bechtel has never shied away from big construction projects, but worldwide achievements are accompanied by controversy.
See past Bechtel projects

 FROM THE ARCHIVES

2001
Review cites flaws at Big Dig
Cerasoli charges Big Dig coverup
$1.4b overrun known in '99
Firm rejects call to offset costs
'99 memos warned of tunnel leaks

2002
Officials disclose more defects
Lawsuit raises Big Dig questions
State to reopen deal with Bechtel
Big Dig hires quality manager
US knew of hidden expenses
Big Dig overrun just plain big
SEC probers to target Big Dig
Big Dig review to target overruns
Turnpike, firm set deal on leak cost

2003
Contracts to be reviewed

 RELATED LINKS

Central Artery/Tunnel Project
www.bigdig.com

Bechtel
www.bechtel.com

Parsons Brinckerhoff
www.pbworld.com

State Inspector General reports
On the history of the Central Artery/Tunnel project's finances:
www.state.ma.us/ig/publ/cat01ex.htm
On the Central Artery/Tunnel project's attempts to recover money for mistakes:
www.state.ma.us/ig/publ/catcrex.htm

About "Scheme Z" bridge design
libraries.mit.edu/rotch/artery/

State oversight of the Big Dig
www.state.ma.us/catocc/

Mass. Turnpike Authority
www.massturnpike.com

The Artery Business Committee
www.arterybusiness.com

 ONLINE CHAT

On February 11, 2003, Globe reporter Raphael Lewis chatted with Boston.com readers about the Bechtel series.
Transcript of chat

 CONTACT THE GLOBE

Any tips? Let us know.
Phone: 617-929-3379
E-mail: bigdigtips@globe.com

 MORE BOSTON.COM COVERAGE


Beyond the Big Dig   What happens to the ribbon of land being created by the depression of the Central Artery? A joint effort between The Boston Globe, MIT, and WCVB-TV explores.
A special report


Progress updates on the Big Dig. Info
 


Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the company managing the Big Dig, yesterday filed for an injunction in Suffolk Superior Court to stave off, at least temporarily, public release of federal audits that say the company overbilled the state by $31 million.

The request for the injunction, which will be heard in court Tuesday, was filed only minutes before a deadline for release of the audits set by Sen. Marc Pacheco, chairman of the Post-Audit Committee.

Pacheco and the chairs of two other Senate committees grilled executives of Bechtel/Parsons at a legislative hearing Wednesday on their management of the project. They assured Pacheco the company would provide a copy of the audits to the committee "by the end of business" yesterday, or else say why they could not do so.

"Our position is that these are public documents and should be released publicly," said Pacheco, who learned in a Globe story this week of Bechtel/Parsons's refusal to release the documents.

The injunction seeks to legally prevent the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which oversees the Central Artery/Ted Williams Tunnel project, from releasing the audits. In recent months the Big Dig's chief counsel, Kurt Dettman, refused the Globe's request for the audits.

Dettman has cited Bechtel/Parsons's threat of suing the Turnpike Authority as a reason for not releasing the audits. But Michael Powers, Turnpike general counsel and Dettman's boss, yesterday told Pacheco he was prepared to release the audits when he learned of Bechtel/Parsons's move to seek an injunction.

"Our position is that the records go to the committee," Powers said. "And we will be in court on Tuesday fighting for their release."

Bechtel/Parsons says the audits contain proprietary and confidential information exempt from the public records law. They were done by a federal government agency responsible for auditing defense contractors such as Bechtel/Parsons and cover only the period through 1997. Other audits, covering 1997 forward, are underway.

"We will provide the Senate committee copies of the audits subject only to redaction of trade secrets, commercial and financial information, which any company or individual would seek to keep private," according to a statement released by the company.

This story ran on page A35 of the Boston Globe on 4/4/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

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