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IDOT suspends clout contractor

Updated: June 15, 2012 8:02AM

State transportation officials have suspended an engineering company that’s gotten millions of dollars in government contracts, though they’ve released few details about the alleged financial improprieties that led to the decision.

The Illinois Department of Transportation issued the “interim suspension” of McDonough Associates Inc. in January. It cited an audit that found the company had “improperly included dividends disguised as bonuses in its overhead compensations,” “improperly included direct costs into its transportation expenses” and “made false or improper charges . . . to its overhead account” between 2000 and 2009.

The agency has refused to release the audit, saying doing that would “interfere with active administrative enforcement proceedings” against the company.

McDonough has fought the allegations, which have been heard by an administrative law judge who’ll recommend to the agency’s chief procurement officer whether to impose additional disciplinary action.

After that process is completed, IDOT will make the audit public, spokesman Guy Tridgell says.

McDonough president Feroz Nathani, a former IDOT engineer, and vice president Brian McPartlin, a former executive director of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The suspension now in place prevents McDonough from getting new state business but allows the firm to keep working under deals that already were in effect.

The company has been paid $61.5 million since 2008 under deals with IDOT and the tollway authority and is in line to get another $8.2 million by the end of June, records show.

McDonough also has been paid millions of dollars by the city of Chicago in recent years. On April 25, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration awarded the firm an $850,310 contract to help design plans for the Weber Spur bike trail, a proposed two-mile path along a no-longer-used North Side rail line.

Chris Fusco

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