The Illinois Dept. of Transportation is at war with one of Chicago’s most important engineering consulting practices over billings and payments.
A federal judge in late June ordered IDOT to pay Chicago-based designer McDonough Associates almost $2 million that the DOT had withheld from the company for work on three projects. IDOT had stopped paying and suspended the engineering firm for three years because of what IDOT claims were years of overbilling.
IDOT started turning over the money to McDonough July 17, but other than announcing the payments has declined to comment on the matter.
Last month McDonough sued in U.S. district court in Chicago to overturn the suspension and force the payments. “What we have demonstrated is an abuse of power,” claims William Sullivan, an attorney for McDonough.
Others also are wondering about the barring of a longstanding, reputable company by IDOT’s chief procurement officer, Bill Grunloh. In February, he directed IDOT staff to stop paying McDonough.
An op-ed writer in the Chicago Tribune said that although he was wary of McDonough’s longstanding political connections in Chicago, IDOT may have overstepped.
“Grunloh has the department's final say, meaning that an unchecked, bureaucratic decision could put a private company out of business…So, I'm going out on a limb here by suggesting that not every government contractor is corrupt. Taxpayers deserve protection from cheaters and insiders, sure, but they also need to know that their government is fair and just.”
A full-service design consultant with 135 employees, McDonough Associates performs civil, structural and environmental engineering design and construction management. The company also has a support staff of surveyors and construction inspectors.