• Report: #936737

Complaint Review: HNTB Corporation

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  • Submitted: Tue, September 04, 2012
  • Updated: Sat, January 04, 2014

  • Reported By: George — Plano Texas United States of America
HNTB Corporation
715 Kirk Dr. Kansas City, Missouri United States of America

HNTB Corporation - Not giving taxpayers their money's worth! Kansas City, Missouri

*Consumer Comment: HNTB revenues decline by more than $56 million

*Consumer Comment: Actions of HNTB, FDOT Toward Disabled Veteran Disgraceful

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: FDOT, Traffic Monitoring Inc., HNTB, and the Orlando RTMC: The Story of Two Men and a Contract

*Consumer Comment: FDOT Traffic Camera Video On YouTube

*Consumer Comment: FDOT Traffic Camera Spying Video

*Consumer Comment: DISTURBING VIDEO OF ORLANDO RTMC

*Consumer Comment: A good resource to stop financial fraud

*Consumer Comment: FDOT, HNTB, and Orlando RTMC still dropping the ball

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Florida OIG continues to accept excuses and cover for FDOT, HNTB, Orlando RTMC

*Consumer Comment: Another skewed report from HNTB

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Details of the FDOT/HNTB investigation

*Consumer Comment: Contact Governor Rick Scott on FDOT/HNTB Scandal

*Consumer Comment: Make your voices heard to HNTB, FDOT, Orlando RTMC

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: HNTB, FDOT, Orlando RTMC, problems are widespread and serious.

*Consumer Comment: HNTB Gave Maine False and Misleading Advice on All-Electronic Tolling

*Consumer Comment: Silence, denial are golden to HNTB when it comes to ripoffs

*Consumer Comment: HNTB, Ripoff, Unacceptable

*Consumer Comment: HNTB, Ripoff, Unacceptable

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: HNTB, FDOT, Orlando RTMC,: A small fortune in taxpayer dollars wasted for years.

*Consumer Comment: Melton: HNTB ripoff in New York's future?

*Consumer Comment: A word of advice to contactors

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: HNTB, Orlando RTMC, have serious problems

*UPDATE Employee: HNTB, FDOT, Orlando RTMC, Corrupt

*Consumer Comment: HNTB, State and Federal Contracts, Abuse of Public Funds, Oversight Needed

*UPDATE Employee: Orlando Regional Traffic Management Center, Florida Department of Transportation, HNTB, problems

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Worth 1000 words

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Minorities Beware

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: HNTB : How Not To Be

*Consumer Comment: HNTB and Corruption

*Consumer Comment: HNTB Corporation is no friend to Texans

*Consumer Comment: A Brief History of HNTB Problems

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I recently was on vacation in Orlando, Florida. While there, a report was shown on a local news station that made my blood boil. The story concerned two employees of a contractor for the Florida Department of Transportation that were caught sleeping on camera. The contractor was HNTB Corporation. In on-camera interviews, HNTB office leader George Gilhooley said the problem had been taken care of by "disciplining" the employees and FDOT spokesman Steve Olson stated that FDOT was satisfied with the action taken by HNTB. The employees were not fired.

Did anyone bother asking the taxpayers of Florida if THEY were satisfied? After all, they were the ones paying for service which was not provided by the sleeping employees. The report went on to say that these employees are tasked with monitoring the highways, updating traffic signs to reflect current conditions and updating the Florida 511 system. That's important work which is pretty hard to do when you're asleep. When you pay for a service and don't get what you paid for, that's a ripoff. Hardly the first in this company's history though.

In 2008, my home state of Texas was devastated by hurricanes. In 2009, HNTB was awarded a contract by HUD to manage $1.4 billion in federal disaster recovery funds. There was no bidding; the contract was simply awarded to HNTB even though they lacked experience in community development block grants. Ray Sullivan who was Rick  Perry's presidential campaign manager, was also coincidentally a former lobbiest for HNTB.

After the contract was awarded, Perry did away with the agency that would have overseen HNTB's management of funds in his effort to streamline state government. As a result, the original $69 million dollar contract ballooned to $144 million for administrative costs. $45 million was eventually paid to HNTB before their contract was canceled on August 31, 2011 - four years before it was set to expire. The reason for the cancelation of their contract was that HNTB had only released about 20% of the money for infrastructure projects at a time when at least 50% of the projects had been slated for completion.

Some of you are angry because you got ripped off on a new television or maybe a car. While these are valid concerns, they pale in comparison to the problems of contractors like HNTB who take millions of hard earned taxpayer dollars and leave you with little to show for it as illustrated in the two cases above. Maybe you can't do anything about the government taking money from your paycheck but you can demand accountability for the way it's spent.

Do you hear that laughter? It's the sound of employees who are receiving your tax dollars as they sleep at work. They're laughing because they have an employer who lets them get away with it. It's the sound of corporations sharing a joke with political allies as money - YOUR money - changes hands. Not so funny, is it?

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/04/2012 01:36 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/HNTB-Corporation/Kansas-City-Missouri-64105/HNTB-Corporation-Not-giving-taxpayers-their-moneys-worth-Kansas-City-Missouri-936737. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

HNTB revenues decline by more than $56 million

AUTHOR: Mike - ()

According to the Engineering News-Record's  list of Top 500 Design Firms, HNTB's revenues dropped from $912 million in 2012 to $855.9 million in 2013, a decline of $56.1 million. That's more than a 6 percent drop in one year. Maybe it's because of the same economic woes that plagued other design firms as well or maybe it's karma at work but one thing is for certain: the decline in revenue is HNTB's largest in years.

Considering that 93 percent of HNTB's business is in the transportation sector, when potential clients learn of stress cracks in new bridge supports, sleeping workers who are supposed to be monitoring highways, and their controversial role in rebuilding infrastructure in Texas after they experienced disastrous hurricanes, it is not surprising that their revenues have declined as much as they have. Reputation is everything in engineering and once it has been tarished, putting a shine back on it is exremely difficult. Maybe HNTB is learning that now.

 

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#2 Consumer Comment

Actions of HNTB, FDOT Toward Disabled Veteran Disgraceful

AUTHOR: Joe - ()

I read a posting about a disabled veteran online today that linked to a YouTube video about this subject. The video had a link to this page. After reading it, I found that nowhere was there a mention that the whistleblower, who was fired from the Orlando RTMC and tried to protect the taxpayers, was also a disabled veteran. That makes the actions of HNTB and the Florida Department of Transportation even more reprehensible. It's not news that corrupt corporations and state officials collude to rip off the taxpayers. It happens all the time. But if the collateral damage is a disabled veteran who served his country with honor, it is nothing short of a disgrace. May the next governor tear the FDOT apart from the inside out, fire the corrupt contractors and state officials, and restore at least a shred of integrity to Florida government. That is my wish for 2014, along with best wishes for the veteran who was fired for trying to do the right thing. Even if companies like HNTB and the state of Florida have no respect for our vets, I do and they deserve better than what this man received. If you are a veteran, especially in the construction or transportation sectors, show some solidarity by supporting a boycott of HNTB and demanding an investigation into FDOT. It's time to stand up for the people who stood up for you.

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#3 UPDATE EX-employee responds

FDOT, Traffic Monitoring Inc., HNTB, and the Orlando RTMC: The Story of Two Men and a Contract

AUTHOR: Activist - ()

Knowing something about the circumstances of the contract for staffing at the Orlando RTMC, perhaps I can shed some light on why such egregious misconduct wwas not treated with greater severity by FDOT District Five once they learned of it. 

In 2001, FDOT decided to outsource staffing for the RTMC and awarded the contract to a company called Traffic Monitoriing Inc. (TMI) which was owned by Alan Edwards. Prior to forming TMI, Mr. Edwards' main experience with traffic was as a regional manager for Clear Chanel which disseminates traffic information for the use of motorists. There is nothing in his work experience which can be found online to suggest he had the extensive experience with intelligent transportation systems (ITS) which you would resonably expect the recipient of a multi-million dollar ITS contract to have. At the time the contract was awarded, George Gilhooley was in a position with FDOT where one would expect his influence to be a factor in helping to determine who might be awarded the contract. From George Gilhooley's online resume: "Florida Department of Transportation, District 5, FL – Director of Transportation Operations responsible for all construction, maintenance, materials and testing, traffic engineering, intelligent transportation system and safety activities for the State Highway System in the nine-county Central Florida area. Led a workforce of 589 in-house employees supplemented by a $48 million per year external workforce. Start/End Date: January 2000-February 2004"

Fast forward to 2008: TMI is again awarded the contract. The terms of the new contract included increased rates of pay for personnel as well as fines for contract violations. The story given to employees at the RTMC was that Mr. Edwards did not want the contract under those terms as he felt the fines would prove detrimental to his business. Instead, they were told, he decided to let George Gilhooley and HNTB have the contract. This is not routine procedure in contract procurement and to anyone who deals with such issues on a regular basis, it is the type of action that would raise a few eyebrows, to put it mildly. Just months earlier, in September of 2007, George Gilhooley left FDOT after 30 years to join HNTB where he is now an associate vice president and office leader of the Lake Mary, Florida office. He is in charge of intelligent transportation systems among his duties. Coincidence? Some may say not. 

Further complicating the issue is the history of HNTB with regard to allegations of improper contract procurement. One such allegation concerned HNTB's contract for the Marquwtte Interchange in Milwaukee. Critics pointed to the company PAC's donation to Governor Doyle. Another, much more discussed issue, was in regard to the contract to  administer federal funding to repair infrastructure in Texas following the 2008 hurricanes Ike and Dolly. An excerpt from the Austin-American Statesman in January of 2012 stated "On Thursday, (Gary) Hagood told the Texas Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs that HUD auditors have identified several potentially serious issues with the canceled contract with HNTB, which the Department of Rural Affairs signed in August 2009. The issues, Hagood said, include the possibility that the contract was improperly procured; that a 2011 amendment doubling the size of the contract from $69 million to $144 million was also improper; that HNTB was allowed to bill for ineligible and inflated costs; and that the state imposed no specific performance measures and did not adequately monitor the contractor's work."

Put it all together and it is not unreasonable to harbor suspicions that there may have been improprieties in the case in the Orlando RTMC contract.  It would certainly make sense as to why FDOT District Five would not take stronger action in the face of serious contract violations being brought to their attention. First, they are dealing with their old boss. Second, no one would want to open a can of worms and have widespread attention brought to the attention of other state officials if there were improprities involved. One would think quite the opposite would be the case if something needed to be covered up to prevent detection of wrongdoing if there had been anything improper in the procurement of the contract.

These are often the issues raised whenever there is privatization of a state service. Critics often claim it opens the door for corruption which in turn results in increased costs and poor service contrary to the goals of outsourcing. It seems that their arguments could well be valid and we would do well to listen to them in the future and take greater action in holding our state officials and elected representatives accountable for the responsible expenditure of public funds.

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#4 Consumer Comment

FDOT Traffic Camera Video On YouTube

AUTHOR: Tyler - ()

I linked to the video but it didn't post on here. Just go to YouTube and search for This is where the money goes in Florida! It's just over 3 minutes long and is on the channel by TaxpayerWatchdog1.

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#5 Consumer Comment

FDOT Traffic Camera Spying Video

AUTHOR: Tyler - ()

Pat, I saw the same posting. Absolutely disgusting that the state allows this and there is no punishment to the company or employees involved. You didn't put a link to the video and this is something people need to see so I am putting a link here so people can check it out.

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#6 Consumer Comment

DISTURBING VIDEO OF ORLANDO RTMC

AUTHOR: Pat - ()

I live in Daytona Beach and recently saw an online posting with links to this page and to a video on You Tube. I clicked on both links and after seeing and reading about all of this I am very angry to see that my tax dollars are being used so irresponsibly. I am sick of this kind of corruption in Florida and I think that companies like HNTB should not be allowed to do business in our state. I also think it is time to get tough on state officials who are involved in corruption.

As disturbing as the pictures on here are I found the video to be even worse. You can see the traffic camera zooming in and out and following people. Those cameras should have always been pointed at the highways as that is what they are for and not to spy on people. Those guys shown sleeping in several pictures should have been fired. You can see that this was not something that only happened once or twice and I don't doubt that they did or still do this every day they work. There is no room in our state's budget for those who want to slack and sponge off of the taxpayers. To hear what we paid so that they could sleep is something that makes me extremely mad.

I read on here that Governor Scott's office was notified of this and did nothing. I will not be voting for him next year. It seems he is a little too friendly with corporations and it is costing us all money while they profit from unacceptable performance. Also the people that were supposed to investigate this did nothing according to the letters and e-mails I read on here. It's time to clean house in this state. People who need help can't get it but these crooks are given a free pass to rob us blind and it has to stop. Remember that next November. I know I will.

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#7 Consumer Comment

A good resource to stop financial fraud

AUTHOR: Derek - ()

When a company such as HNTB is alleged to be involved in procurement fraud in multiple states, it can be daunting to try to weave your way through the maze of state regulatory agencies in order to effect a resolution. In 2009, President Obama created the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force in the wake of the economic crisis caused by, among other factors, mortgage fraud in multiple states.

The FFETF is a coalition of dozens of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies comprised of senior-level officials who have been assembled to combat fraud. The FFETF is a valuable resource in the investigation and resolution of a wide range of financial fraud to include procurement fraud, mail fraud, tax fraud, investment fraud, cyber crime, and mortgage fraud. Unfortunately, it is not as well known as it should be which is why I have taken the time to bring its existence to the attention of those who need it.

No one should accept the fact that their tax dollars are being wasted as "business as usual" and think there is nothing that can be done to stop it. If you see fraud, report it and help to put an end to the waste and abuse of public funds.

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#8 Consumer Comment

FDOT, HNTB, and Orlando RTMC still dropping the ball

AUTHOR: Mike - ()

I was watching the news when a traffic report about a crash on State Road 417 came on. The camera shot from the RTMC showed all lanes blocked and prominently displayed in the foreground was a sign showing an impossible travel time of 4 to 6 minutes to State Road 408. Considering the camera appeared to be zoomed in to this spot, didn't someone at the RTMC have a clue that the signs they are in charge of were displaying totally inaccurate travel times and how ridiculous that looked on the news? You can see from the picture that the time was 8:02 AM. At 8:33, the only thing different about the sign is a minute has been added to the travel times. It is embarrasing to know we are paying so much for such poor service.

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#9 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Florida OIG continues to accept excuses and cover for FDOT, HNTB, Orlando RTMC

AUTHOR: Steve - ()

I contacted the Florida Office of the Inspector General again last month in an attempt to get them to understand the foolishness of blindly accepting FDOT District Five's conclusions instead of doing some investigating themselves. I explained to them that since George Gilhooley served as the District Five secretary before joining HNTB, it was a conflict of interest to have District Five investigate this matter. Today I received an email from the OIG stating that District Five saw no need for further action or for restitution to be paid by HNTB to FDOT for the hours wasted sleeping on duty. Once again, in spite of the warning of conflict of interest, the OIG just blindly accepted whatever District Five told them. This begs the question: Is even more taxpayer money being wasted on investigators who don't even investigate claims of fraud, waste, and abuse brought to them? It would seem so. In spite of the evidence showing traffic camera abuse and violations of FDOT policy concerning computer usage, the only matter addressed in the email I received today was sleeping on duty.

I guess the moral of this story is that if you have enough money and the right connections, you can break the rules, not be held accountable, and the taxpayer is left holding the bag. Meanwhile, programs that help citizens of this state are being cut and schools are closing because they don't have enough money in their budgets. Florida is truly in a sad state when a blind eye is turned toward employee misconduct and abuse of public funds but, apparently, this is what our state has become.

 

 

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#10 Consumer Comment

Another skewed report from HNTB

AUTHOR: Ken - ()

The report that mentioned HNTB gave Maine false and misleading advice on all electronic tolling is not particularly surprising. HNTB did the same thing two years earlier in 2007 right in their hometown of Kansas City, Missouri when they released their light rail study which was riddled with inaccuracies. One has to ask whether these inaccuracies are the result of producing whatever conclusions they were being paid to produce or if they are incompetent in their chosen field. Considering the city was not in favor of light rail even though voters had approved it, I suspect mostly the former with maybe a bit of the latter thrown in. Here are a few of the "mistakes" in HNTB's study:

1. HNTB estimated the cost of the light rail system at $53 million to $60 million per mile when North Carolina's 11 mile light rail system that was scheduled to go online the same year cost only $44 million per mile. HNTB also included a $350 million "contingency". Maybe they were using the same math they used in Texas during the hurricane recovery when they were caught overcharging by millions of dollars. By making the rail project seem more costly than it was, they reinforced the city's position. After all, it was the city paying them and not the voters.

2. HNTB consultants estimated the funds available from the 3/8 cent sales tax to fund the project was $337 million. The city's finance department said a conservative estimate was closer to $450 million. (So now we have HNTB giving an overpriced estimate with an underestimated fund to pay for it. I have to wonder what their findings would have been if proponents of the light rail had gotten to them first and paid them more money.)

3. HNTB said the Heart of America bridge did not have the capacity to carry a 100,000 pound light rail yet the bridge is rated for semi trucks that weigh nearly that much and I have never seen them going over the bridge one at a time. You would think a company that bills themselves as skilled engineers could see how ridiculous this conclusion looks.

You can read the op-ed piece in its entirety at this link - (((link redacted)))

I am not suggesting that HNTB is against light rail projects. However, I am very open to the possibility that they are either for or against whatever they are paid to be for or against. I don't think objectivity is a strong suit of HNTB. Case in point, they are now courting City Representative Steve Ortega of El Paso, Texas who is running for mayor and has been a leading advocate for a rail project there that HNTB has been involved in planning. So far, their PAC has donated $2500 to his campaign and is one of his biggest contributors. Sound familiar?

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#11 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Details of the FDOT/HNTB investigation

AUTHOR: Steve - ()

Since others have talked about me in some of the posts, I felt I should post here in order to shed some more light on this subject. My name is Steve Thompson and I am the person who was fired on suspicion of sending an anonymous email to George Gilhooley which reported sleeping employees. To make a correction to previous posts, I was never told specifically the reason I was being terminated. Gilhooley mumbled something vague about an email and couldn't even look me in the eye when he did it. Yes, it is true that the sleeping workers, Evan Welker and Luis Hernandez, kept their jobs with little repercussion for their actions. Yes, it is true that they slept habitually nearly every shift I worked with them for hours at a time. Yes, it is true that employees misused traffic cameras. Yes, it is true that people used FDOT computers for unauthorized purposes. And yes, sadly, it is true that the taxpayers of Florida paid for all of this for years at a great cost.

It is not true that I was ever considered a whistle-blower. I first filed a complaint after I was fired, Curiously enough, the not-so-great state of Florida government decided that the complaint could not be investigated under the Florida Whistle-blower Act (they said no rules had been broken and not enough money wasted, lol), HOWEVER, an investigation of the misconduct was still warranted. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense until you read the line that states "This matter has therefore been referred to District Five Secretary for review and action as deemed appropriate." Now it makes perfect sense because they can put the investigation in the hands of the very same people George Gilhooley worked with and supervised at FDOT for years when he was the District Five Secretary. Someone used the word "cronyism" to describe the relationship between Gilhooley and FDOT. My personal opinion is that is an accurate word, mild even, to describe that relationship. I have attached the correspondence from the state with this report.

After I was terminated, I shared everything I had collected over the previous year (yes these pictures are only from 2012, this is not ancient history) with friends, family, neighbors, casual acquaintances, and complete strangers - all of whom were outraged to see their tax dollars used so irresponsibly. I had these pictures in the first place because I didn't trust either Welker or Hernandez as far as I could throw them. I worked in an atmosphere of backstabbing and hypocrisy and I wanted some insurance. I am glad to see they were put to good use even though I asked no one to do so. Some people provided pictures of their own. Thanks to everyone who spoke up whether it was on my behalf or just out of disgust with the things that occurred at the Orlando RTMC.

Rick Scott will not do anything about this. These were his top people who killed a legitimate investigation by sending it to the District Five Secretary. There were not just allegations; there were pictures to back them up. If you are as outraged as everyone who knows this story, forget about wasting your time contacting people who will do nothing. These people started the whole problem by contracting this work out.  HNTB had just been awarded the contract for another five years when this "investigation" came about. They could have easily rescinded the contract. They could have hired the good employees, and there are several, in order to save the state and taxpayers a lot of money while allowing the decent people there to keep their jobs. Someone asked a good question: why do we pay several times the cost of FDOT staffing the RTMC themselves? The first answer that will probably come to the mind of many is that there are payoffs involved. If you believe this, then take your convictions to the voting booth in November 2014 and begin the process of cleaning up this state. We don't have to live with this nonsense.
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#12 Consumer Comment

Contact Governor Rick Scott on FDOT/HNTB Scandal

AUTHOR: Steven - ()

While I agree with Sue that people should publicly protest this abuse of public funds, I disagree with some of her suggestions. I do not see the point in contacting anyone at FDOT, HNTB, or the Orlando RTMC about this matter. They have had plenty of time to make things right if they wanted to, but it seems that they have other priorities. As others have pointed out, there is no sensible reason for this work to be contracted out at many times the cost of FDOT doing it themselves - unless there is money changing hands. If that is the case, do not expect a satisfactory reply, if any.

If you want action, I suggest writing to Governor Rick Scott. Not that he actually cares, it's just that he has an election next year and he really doesn't need any more embarrassing scandals to derail his campaign. Just ask the former lieutenant governor if you have any doubts. I also suggest that rather than filling out the email contact form on his website, that you just email him directly. You won't find his email address on his site, but according to the Miami Herald, it is: rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com
That way you don't have to jump through the hoops on his website and fill out mandatory information such as your county, etc. However you do it, just get it done and put an end to this waste of money.
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#13 Consumer Comment

Make your voices heard to HNTB, FDOT, Orlando RTMC

AUTHOR: Sue - ()

After reading these reports, I am angry at what is being done in Florida by HNTB and FDOT at the Orlando RTMC. The fact that traffic cameras were used to look up women's skirts is absolutely disgusting. FDOT not holding HNTB accountable for the sleeping, traffic camera abuse and other infractions is completely unacceptable.

I do not understand why the state is spending all this money on a contractor when they could save millions of dollars by having FDOT staff the Orlando RTMC. Our school district has recently had to close schools because there wasn't enough money in the budget to keep them open. Yet, the state apparently has enough money to pay HNTB for this nonsense of sleeping and playing instead of working. Enough is enough and it is time we taxpayers take the governor to task for this waste of our money.

I urge Florida residents who read this to contact Governor Scott and demand a full investigation as well as recommend that HNTB's contract be terminated in the interest of saving the state money. I see no reason for FDOT to pay a contractor several times the cost of doing the job themselves. Governor Scott can be contacted here by email: http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/. Just fill out the contact form and send your message.

While we're at it, I suggest that we let HNTB, FDOT, and the Orlando RTMC know of our dissatisfaction with the job, or lack of it, they have been doing. You can contact the FDOT secretary, Ananth Prasad, at (850) 414-4100. George Gilhooley can be contacted at ggilhooley@hntb.com. The RTMC manager can be contacted at swatterson@hntb.com. The general email for the Orlando RTMC is florida511@gmail.com. The telephone number for the RTMC is (407) 736-1900.

All the information is here and all it takes to make your voice heard is taking time to make a phone call or send an email. This is a lot of our money being wasted. If you think it doesn't affect you much, you will think differently when budget cuts affect your child's school or the services you receive from your county. Waste is waste and it needs to be wiped out. This is an opportunity to save millions. Governor Scott will be running for reelection next year. Get angry and tell him if he wants your vote, he needs to take care of waste like this before the election, not after.
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#14 UPDATE EX-employee responds

HNTB, FDOT, Orlando RTMC, problems are widespread and serious.

AUTHOR: Thomas - ()

As a former employee of the Orlando RTMC and HNTB, I can confirm the waste of public money and abuse that took place there. For those who read these posts and think that the improper behavior was limited to a couple of individuals, that is not the case. Attached to this report is yet another picture of a lead operator sleeping at the expense of taxpayers.

During my time there, I worked on all of the shifts at one time or another and observed at least half of the employees sleeping, surfing unauthorized web sites, leaving the room for extended periods of time far beyond the allotted 30 minute break, using cell phones in the center, and bringing in unauthorized items such as laptops and even a portable hard drive containing video games and movies which was plugged into FDOT computers in violation of their policy. As for the traffic camera abuse, that was also a problem that was widespread. Employees who do not take part in these activities are afraid to say anything to management because someone tried to do exactly that last year and was fired. The employees who were reported, shown on the news sleeping at work, and got to keep their jobs, laughed about the fact that he got fired and they did not. That is hardly an atmosphere conducive to motivating others to report violations by their coworkers. On another note, maybe Evan Welker and Luis Hernandez will not be laughing so much when they look for their next job. Many employers use the internet to conduct research on prospective employees these days and their pictures on this site are quite easy to find when searching their names.

I am glad I do not work for HNTB. After reading the other reports, I would be ashamed to still work for a company that has repeatedly been accused of buying contracts and doing shoddy work in the media. After seeing them fire a whistleblower who was trying to stop the sleeping and then keeping two people who cost the state a lot of money with their laziness, I feel this company is extremely dishonest as well as reckless with our tax money. All they seemed to care about was covering things up instead of fixing problems that were the result of bad management so they could keep their contract. That's not the way to do business and it is not something we should accept.

As for FDOT, they participated in the cover up by letting HNTB take care of the problem themselves which meant they did nothing but give Welker and Hernandez a write up when stronger action should have been taken. Maybe that is because George Gilhooley, the office leader at HNTB, used to be the FDOT District 5 secretary and the person who was handed the investigation was the current District 5 secretary. The failure of FDOT to take the matter into their own hands and to let HNTB off so easily suggests an improper relationship between them that should not be allowed to exist. If Governor Rick Scott does not reform FDOT to make sure this does not happen again, maybe our next one will after Gov. Scott gets voted out by taxpayers sick of their money being wasted by people sleeping and otherwise misbehaving at work.
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#15 Consumer Comment

HNTB Gave Maine False and Misleading Advice on All-Electronic Tolling

AUTHOR: Ernie - (United States of America)

Hello from the state of Maine. We are all too familiar with HNTB. Besides the asbestos problem at the toll plaza, there is a more recent incident that bears repeating. The following was taken from this link and was published online 11/10/2009:  http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/4441

Here is an excerpt from that editorial which was titled "HNTB provides Maine false and misleading advice on all-electronic tolling": "Maine Turnpike should ask HNTB for their money back on consulting fees on the York Toll Plaza replacement. HNTB as general engineering consultants have been providing false and misleading advice to Maine on the state of  all-electronic tolling (AET). HNTB's misinformation has embroiled the Maine Turnpike in an unnecessary conflict with communities in south Maine over how to replace the York Toll Plaza, and set the Turnpike on a path of wasting some tens of millions of dollars on building a contentious white elephant."

The editorial stated that HNTB made several false claims in a Q&A prepared for the York Board of Selectmen. Among them:

1. HNTB claimed that All-Electronic Tolling (AET) is a very recent approach. In fact, at the time AET had been in use for over a decade at the time.

2. HNTB claimed that only 3 agencies had implemented AET on just 5 toll roads at the time. The truth is that at least 13 agencies had implemented AET on 15 U.S. toll roads.

3. HNTB claimed that only 4 other agencies were considering AET for an additional 4 toll roads. The truth is that 2 agencies were fully implementing, rather than considering, AET and and additional 5 agencies were in the planning stages. The agencies involved had 20 toll roads between them. Several other agencies were considering AET which would have affected even more toll roads.

4. HNTB claimed that the number of toll roads being considered for AET was relatively small considering there were 85 toll highways in the U.S. The truth is that, at the time, at least half the toll facilities in the country were either in course of conversion to AET, doing detailed planning studies, or studying it at the staff level.

5. HNTB claimed no existing cash-based agency had completed a total conversion to AET. In fact, Colorado and Texas had both completed total conversions to AET.

6. HNTB claimed that adoption of AET could result in as much as $17 million in uncollected revenue, which seemed to insinuate that the Open Road Tolling (ORT) that HNTB advocated would result in less risk of uncollected tolls. The same collection procedures from interstate drivers are required as in AET and the risk of non collection is the same.

7. HNTB claimed that there was no reason to expect that reciprocity and enforcement agreements would change to such an extent that AET would become a viable option in the next 20 years. The truth is that Toronto has managed to achieve a decent collection rate from U.S. drivers as well as others in nearby provinves by using debt collection agencies. Germany has done the same through international cooperation and their toll roads have large percentages of foreign trucks.

Between HNTB not telling workers about asbestos in their work environment immediately after they knew about it, and the points mentioned above, I can come to no other conclusion than HNTB shows a lack of integrity and I feel our state would be better off without them being awarded contracts payed for with our hard earned money.
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#16 Consumer Comment

Silence, denial are golden to HNTB when it comes to ripoffs

AUTHOR: Luciano - (United States of America)

This report has been up for over 6 months and I find it strange that HNTB has remained silent and not attempted to defend itself. The fact that they haven't speaks volumes and tells me that they most likely have no defense about the things they have done. The pictures and email are pretty hard to refute. Not only are the reports in another post accurate about the things HNTB has done in various states, but when they were reported in the media HNTB has typically either declined comment or made comments that suggest they are in denial. The incident in Boston where HNTB and 3 other firms had to repay $24 million because of faulty work is a prime example. HNTB issued a statement along with the other companies that they were proud of their "architectural achievement". If they are proud of design errors like faulty air handlers, roof, and roadway drainage systems, I am relieved that they did not get the contract to design the new Vikings stadium. Hopefully, the attention drawn to their shortcomings in this report was a factor in that decision and hopefully it will continue to be a factor that those who award contracts consider as they make future decisions on who to trust with taxpayer money.
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#17 Consumer Comment

HNTB, Ripoff, Unacceptable

AUTHOR: Heather - (United States of America)

I am sickened by what I have read here. This is a perfect example of how privatization of state agencies can end up costing the taxpayers more money instead of saving it. It is also shows the abuses of private industry PAC's when trying to secure a state or federal contract. If left unchecked and without proper oversight, corporations like HNTB will continue to bleed the taxpayers as they enrich themselves.

I have contacted my governor's office as well as my state representatives to ask that a bill be introduced that would prohibit the awarding of contracts to private companies that may have inappropriate relationships with state agencies. This would include large political donations by a PAC to any state elected official's campaign within 180  days of bidding
on a contract, companies that have relations of influential state officials on their payroll, etc. Also, companies bidding on state
contracts should  be properly vetted before being considered for any contract. Finally, privatization of any state services should be thoroughly researched to determine if significant savings can be achieved by privatization.

Companies like HNTB can only get away with the things that they have when citizens become complacent. Contact your state elected officials and let them know if they won't consider putting safeguards in place to protect your money, that you won't consider voting for them in the next election. It really isn't hard to take a few moments to write, call or
email. If enough people do it, the savings may pay for a new park in your neighborhood, community programs, or anything else you can't currently get because of budget "shortfalls". It's your money. Demand that it is used in your best interest and not to make a greedy, corrupt company richer.
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#18 Consumer Comment

HNTB, Ripoff, Unacceptable

AUTHOR: Heather - (United States of America)

I am sickened by what I have read here. This is a perfect example of how privatization of state agencies can end up costing the taxpayers more money instead of saving it. It is also shows the abuses of private industry PAC's when trying to secure a state or federal contract. If left unchecked and without proper oversight, corporations like HNTB will continue to bleed the taxpayers as they enrich themselves.

I have contacted my governor's office as well as my state representatives to ask that a bill be introduced that would prohibit the awarding of contracts to private companies that may have inappropriate relationships with state agencies. This would include large political donations by a PAC to any state elected official's campaign within 180  days of bidding on a contract, companies that have relations of influential state officials on their payroll, etc. Also, companies bidding on state contracts should  be properly vetted before being considered for any contract. Finally, privatization of any state services should be thoroughly researched to determine if significant savings can be achieved by privatization.

Companies like HNTB can only get away with the things that they have when citizens become complacent. Contact your state elected officials and let them know if they won't consider putting safeguards in place to protect your money, that you won't consider voting for them in the next election. It really isn't hard to take a few moments to write, call or email. If enough people do it, the savings may pay for a new park in your neighborhood, community programs, or anything else you can't currently get because of budget "shortfalls". It's your money. Demand that it is used in your best interest and not to make a greedy, corrupt company richer.



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#19 UPDATE EX-employee responds

HNTB, FDOT, Orlando RTMC,: A small fortune in taxpayer dollars wasted for years.

AUTHOR: Al - (United States of America)

During my time working at the Orlando RTMC, two things were clear: one was that employees got away with all kinds of things when the manager wasn't there. Even when she was there, she would sometimes leave the room for extended periods of time, often with the shift supervisor. There were cameras installed in the room for the purpose of monitoring the employees but either they were never watched or if they were nothing was ever said about what went on. Some shift supervisors were guilty of the same offenses as operators so they weren't in any position to say anything about what they were doing. What they were doing was surfing the internet (see the attached picture of Luis Hernandez watching Hulu on an FDOT computer in violation of the contract), bringing in laptops and DVD players, playing video games, sleeping for hours at a time, arriving late, leaving early, and leaving for up to as long as two hours while on shift when only a 30 minute break was allowed. The other thing that was clear was that even though the manager, Shannon and the office leader, George Gilhooley (pictured), were aware of some of these things at least, they weren't too worried about them as long as it didn't leave the RTMC and no one else found out about them. The only thing they apparently cared about was keeping a contract that made them a lot of money. I saw nothing that showed concern for responsibility to the taxpayers on their part. This waste of money is a disgrace and HNTB should be held accountable to repay at least  some of the money to the state that was wasted because of the behavior I mentioned by employees. It upsets me that so much money was wasted and it should upset any Florida taxpayer too. It's time these people are held accountable for their actions.
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#20 Consumer Comment

Melton: HNTB ripoff in New York's future?

AUTHOR: Andrew - (United States of America)

Recently, Mr. T. June Melton, president of Amstar Engineering in Austin, Texas posted the following on his Twitter account: "HNTB's Texas problems ignored in NY contract. Will this become NY's 'Big Dig' taxpayer ripoff?" I have attached a screen shot of his tweet.

It's a fair question to ask. The New York contract Mr. Melton was referring to is the Tappan Zee bridge project which was awarded by the New York State Thruway Authority to Tappan Zee Constructors. The  replacement of the Tappan Zee bridge is the largest public works project in the history of the state with a cost of 3.9 billion - nearly triple the size of the federal budget to rebuild infrastructure in Texas following the 2008 hurricanes. HNTB failed miserably at that project and was fired after 18 months. There were hearings, allegations of fraud and payoffs to secure the no bid contract, and the project wound up two years behind schedule because of HNTB. In the end, Texans were the victims of not only two destructive storms, but also one bumbling, greedy company.

Where does HNTB come in as far as the Tappan Zee project? They were a member of Hudson River Bridge Constructors, one of four teams selected to compete for the contract. HRBC failed to submit a proposal by the due date and the contract went to Tappan Zee Constructors. Normally, that would be the end of the story for HNTB and that project but there's an interesting twist: HNTB was hired by the Thruway Authority as their oversight team, also known as the owner's engineer. The contract calls for HNTB to be paid up to $75 million in the first two years of a contract that can be extended up to six years. It is inconceivable that the state could be ignorant of the multitude of problems attributed to HNTB during their debacle in Texas. With no one to oversee them. they overcharged the state and moved at a snail's pace as far as moving projects along in a timely manner. What they excelled at was depleting the administrative portion of the budget in record time and fattening their contract before it was cancelled. Considering that and the fact that they failed to submit a proposal by the due date for the Tappan Zee project, why on earth would anyone put them in an oversight position of a $3.9 billion project with administrative costs estimated at over $500 million?

This is the first time the Thruway Authority has ever hired an oversight team. Either they did not do their homework on HNTB or, as Mr. Melton suggests, those problems in Texas (and elsewhere) were ignored. The NY state comptroller and attorney general have to approve the contracts. If they approve HNTB as the owner's engineer, they should be held accountable by the governor who will most certainly be held accountable by the voters. Perhaps New York's oversight in regard to their selection of an oversight team will be corrected before it is too late and New York will make Texas' problems pale by comparison. You people in New York need to make a lot of noise to Governor Cuomo before you get stuck for the bill the way Texans did. After Hurricane Sandy, it is hard to imagine how you can endure another huge disaster.
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#21 Consumer Comment

A word of advice to contactors

AUTHOR: Glen - (United States of America)

I've been a contractor for a long time and after reading this I'd like to offer some advice to others in my line of business. If you're building off a flawed design, you can be held liable just as many of the contractors that built off of HNTB's designs that ran into problems were. A good example of how to protect yourself is to look at the King bridge project in Toledo. PDM Bridge was hired to do the steel fabrication and they hired Trevian Projects to prepare the shop drawings. The delays on the project were due to Trevian discovering severe design errors by HNTB. HNTB had to prepare a 5th revision to correct the errors which then caused Trevian to revise 690 of the 800 shop drawings that had previously been completed. That resulted in a 10 month delay alone. Any company building off of a design from a company such as HNTB which has had numerous known and publicized design flaws should protect themselves by making sure the company they hire to prepare their shop drawings is capable of spotting these kinds of flaws. Had Trevian missed the errors, the liability to them and PDM Bridge could have been serious enough to put them out of business if the structure failed. We deal with plenty of issues that subject us to liability. Although it may be costly to hire an engineering firm to check someone else's work, the cost could be far greater in the long run if you do not. Do your homework, know the reputation of the firm that did the engineering, and hire the best to check them and prepare your drawings. It just takes one link in the chain to fail for everything to fall apart.
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#22 UPDATE EX-employee responds

HNTB, Orlando RTMC, have serious problems

AUTHOR: Dave - (United States of America)

I just came across this page and thought I'd add my 2 cents based on my experience. When HNTB got the contract for the RTMC in 2008, I and 2 others had already been hired by HNTB to work there. We were employees before they hired on the people who were already working there from the previous contractor. I was told by Jim Clark who was the new manager with HNTB that I would be promoted to supervisor as soon as the transition was complete. The RTMC is in a secure building that they share with the Florida Highway Patrol so everyone who works there has to pass a background check. Jim Clark failed his background check and could not be the manager.

I was already working on developing new procedures as I had been promised a supervisor position. I completed a workflow plan but no one that worked there was interested in seeing it. I was told "You're not a supervisor and you're no different than us." They laughed about it and a few told me they didn't want to change anything. No wonder. Operators routinely watched TV (on one of the big screens used for traffic cameras), surfed the internet, talked on cell phones, and did more of anything other than work most of the time. People actually seemed annoyed when there was a crash that forced them to work and interrupted their playtime. One person even told me that this job was "easy money" and it wasn't like having to work at a "real job".

Jim Clark was replaced with another manager named James Mock. He was strict and I thought he would shape the place up. The problem was that after a while he did not show up for work much at all even though he was still being paid. I asked about my promotion to supervisor and was told that since Jim Clark had promised it to me and he was not the manager that nothing could be done. I felt I had been lied to and they should have honored their promise to me. After a few months, I could not stand to work for this company any longer and I left.

HNTB did not honor their word to me and paid a manager who was not even there half of the time (literally) when he was paid to be. The things you read about the RTMC would never have been allowed to happen on my watch if I was the manager. Even worse, they apparently do not know the backgrounds of people working for them since they did not know about Jim Clark's past until he failed his check. This company designs and inspects important structures the public uses such as bridges, stadiums and airports. You would think that because of that and the increased need for security in this country that they would have background checks done on all employees. A company that lies to its employees and is lax on security is not who should be designing important structures that thousands of people use every day.

The state needs to really do something to shape up the RTMC. From what I have read on this page things are not any different now than when I was there. Floridians deserve a lot better than what they are apparently getting from HNTB and the Orlando RTMC.
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#23 UPDATE Employee

HNTB, FDOT, Orlando RTMC, Corrupt

AUTHOR: Ruben - (United States of America)

This is the most messed up place I have ever worked at. It seems like the screwups get ahead as long as they are friends with the manager and kiss her butt. I was told by people who have worked here longer than me that one supervisor was promoted shortly after she got the company a fine because she got caught by someone from FDOT watching Youtube at work. The guy someone else mentioned got fired because they thought he ratted out the guys who were sleeping. They kept them and fired him. You should have seen the emails after he got fired. You would think he was Bin Laden and we were under attack. Nobody around here seems to realize that some people here are in the wrong. They are all too worried about there jobs and too busy trying to keep everything quiet. The bosses seem to be more worried about keeping there nice fat paychecks than fixing stuff that is wrong here. The manager gets like 70 grand a year and she is the one who should be responsible for that kind of money. Maybe if she checked up on people a little more and did her job there would be nothing to worry about. All I know after seeing how they act around here is that I need to get a new job. We have already been "warned"about saying anything anyway. The person who said there are pictures out there is right. I got a couple that should make everybody think twice about how the state of Florida spends there money. Good luck people because you are stuck with HNTB running this place and wasting your money for the next 4 1/2 years. I'll be out long before that.
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#24 Consumer Comment

HNTB, State and Federal Contracts, Abuse of Public Funds, Oversight Needed

AUTHOR: Brian - (United States of America)

I could hardly believe what I have read here and never take anything at face value. It took all of 10 minutes to confirm all the stories on here about HNTB except for the racial discrimination. As far as that goes, a quick check revealed lawsuits brought by ex employees alleging discrimination. Most damning of all are the pictures that show employees sleeping at work and misusing traffic cameras as well as the email instructing employees not to cooperate with traffic reporters because the facility "didn't get paid for it".

When I verified the stories in the second post, "A Brief History of HNTB Problems", I was absolutely shocked at just how corrupt the entire bidding and contract process appears to be between HNTB and the various state and federal agencies involved. The results have been disastrous: The recovery of Texas from Hurricanes Ike and Dolly in 2008 delayed by two full years if not more because of this company and their apparent incompetence. Sections of newly built roadway either collapsing or in danger of collapse. Take a good look at the picture of the section of I-470 that collapsed in Kansas City, Missouri. MoDOT officials blamed the collapse on shifting soil. One would think that engineers would have identified any potential problems with the surrounding terrain first. Instead, they engineered a fix using a bridge extension after the collapse. Instead of doing it right the first time, they made even more money to fix a potentially deadly situation that they failed to recognize at the outset of the project. Take a good look at that picture and imagine seeing that open up in front of you as you're cruising along at 60 MPH.

The time has come for backroom deals made by company PAC's and government to stop. We need more oversight when it comes to federal or state projects that are being awarded to private companies. We need tougher penalties and greater accountability for contractors who perform substandard work. I shudder to think of how many bridges or elevated sections of roadway may be in danger of collapse because the best company didn't get the job, just the one that was able to push the most cash across the table. We need to be proactive and demand these changes from our elected representatives now, before we suffer a tragedy that involves the loss of many lives.
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#25 UPDATE Employee

Orlando Regional Traffic Management Center, Florida Department of Transportation, HNTB, problems

AUTHOR: Concerned - (United States of America)

I noticed that out of all the posts on this page the only ones that have "no" votes up to now are the ones about the Orlando Regional Traffic Management Center. I guess it's not pleasant being exposed in public for wrongdoing but be real. Does anyone really think that voting no as to whether the post was helpful is somehow going to make people think that you're innocent when there are pictures clearly showing people sleeping and traffic cameras aimed where they're not supposed to be? I guess they will vote "no" on this post too and maybe even on some of the other posts not about this place since I've mentioned this.

Since the RTMC is run by public funds from FDOT, their emails are public records which can be requested under the Sunshine Law. I am posting one email which shows that the RTMC would not cooperate with local traffic news reporters as far as requests to move cameras to better view accidents and keep the public informed. The reason for this is clearly explained in the line that reads "The issue is DOT/RTMC does not get paid by the news or media outlets and we are not going to do their jobs for them. They can find another avenue to track down information." The whole purpose of the RTMC is to keep motorists informed about traffic conditions. By refusing to cooperate with news and media outlets, they are not fulfilling their purpose. Why should the news have to pay them for information? They are funded by the taxpayers and the service is for the residents of the state who are paying them. It seems like greed and nothing else. HNTB is already being paid plenty by the state. Someone else mentioned that the figure is $100 per hour per person. It seems like they are trying to double dip and are withholding service they are being paid for by the state, which would benefit motorists who watch the news for traffic information, because they can't squeeze more money out of the media. Read the entire email. It is very disturbing.

I don't understand why FDOT even pays a contractor to do this job when it was something they used to do themselves and for a lot less money. At $100 per hour per person at current staffing levels, it costs the state nearly $4 million a year to pay the contractor for the staff. If FDOT kept the current employees and paid them an average of $15 an hour, it would cost about $600,000 a year to staff the RTMC and have the same results. So why do they pay out so much money instead of saving the state almost $3.5 million a year? I can only speculate that someone is making a lot of money off of this deal. HNTB certainly is but I wouldn't be surprised if some individuals are stuffing their pockets with public funds. Think what the state could do by saving over $3 million a year in this one facility alone. The money could go toward school budgets, programs to help the underprivileged, and more. When are people going to wake up and demand that their hard earned money be spent responsibly?
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#26 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Worth 1000 words

AUTHOR: JR - (United States of America)

I also worked for HNTB Corporation at the Orlando Regional Traffic Management Center. I saw a lot of what went on there. I also knew Evan Welker and Louis Hernandez. I thought they were both immature and unprofessional so the pictures of them sleeping don't surprise me at all. Unfortunately I worked with them at different times when they were on my shift and wished they would have slept because of their behavior.

There were other people that were just as bad in some ways. On my shift everyone would watch the hookers and drug dealers on one camera. We had a supervisor and lead operator and they never said anything about it and would even laugh and make comments about the things we saw. There were people that had pictures of different things that went on in there and I bet there's a lot more pictures floating around out there somewhere. I'm surprised that more of them haven't shown up online. Anyway, I have some too that I will share. I also saw the news report. They sure don't like having their dirty laundry out in public for all too see and George Gilhooley looked really mad on TV. Guess they don't like people finding out the truth about what they are paying for. Just remember that those cameras can be looking anywhere and not just at cars as you can see here.
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#27 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Minorities Beware

AUTHOR: Sonia - (United States of America)

The report by Jonathan reflects my experience while at HNTB. There was nothing deficient about my work. I was actually ahead of schedule on an important design which had been contracted for by the DOT of the state I worked in at the time. My TOJ was more than adequate and I was a professional in every sense of the word. I was about 50 percent complete on the project when I was told that my "services were no longer needed." No reason was given and I was given hardly any time to collect my belongings and leave the building. The design was completed by someone else who was never given an opportunity to consult with me on the work I had already completed or elements I would have included had I been allowed to finish the project. Apparently my successor, a white male,  had different design ideas and the project ended up as one of the ones listed above that suffered structural failure. I believe my only fault was being a minority female who was not related to senior level management. I have since found employment with a great firm that values my ability as an engineer and does not care about my race or gender. HNTB Corporation should learn a lesson from firms such as the one I am employed at now before their misplaced sense of priorities further endangers public safety. If you are a minority, look carefully before you leap and go to work for HNTB.
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#28 UPDATE EX-employee responds

HNTB : How Not To Be

AUTHOR: Jonathan - (United States of America)

That's what we used to call it when I worked there. HNTB was my first job out of engineering school and it was a decision I quickly came to regret. It may have once been a great A/E company but they are now trading on their past reputation. If this was a new company being run the way that it is, they would not last a year.

Training is all but nonexistent except in areas that are not crucial for an engineer. If you haven't learned it in school, don't expect HNTB to teach it to you. There is a pervasive sense of mistrust between management and the lower ranks. If you show promise, management sees you as a threat instead of nurturing you and grooming you to move up. Cooperation and communication between different service lines and offices is poor at best. You are worked like a dog and the emphasis is always on the TOJ (time on job). Your quality of life will never be a consideration for them. Revolving door employees are mostly the result of a combination of job dissatisfaction and the rampant layoffs HNTB Corporation is famous for. If you are looking for job security as an engineer, there are far better places to look. Almost anywhere else, actually. There seems to be a disproportionate ratio of layoffs when it comes to minorities which explains why HNTB has been sued for racial discrimination as much as they have. As someone else mentioned in this thread, HNTB has also been sued for design flaws on a number of occassions. That is hardly surprising given what I've seen.

In closing, if you are a new graduate looking for a firm where you can advance and have your talent recognized, you would do well to look elsewhere. If you are looking to hire an A/E firm that will complete your project on time and provide flawless designs, the same advice applies. Having worked there for 2 years, I would not hire HNTB to design a dog house for me. I love my dog too much.
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#29 Consumer Comment

HNTB and Corruption

AUTHOR: Bill - (United States of America)

As to the incidents of employees sleeping at the Orlando Regional Traffic Management Center, what the news did not show on their report is even more disturbing. A good friend of mine worked in that facility for over 5 years and was there for about a year and a half before HNTB was awarded the contract.

He personally worked with both individuals shown on the news for several years and most nights he worked with them on the overnight shift, they would be fast asleep for hours at a time. What the news did not report is that the state paid HNTB $100 per hour for each employee. These two employees routinely engaged in this behavior of sleeping on duty which, over the course of a few years, cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's a shame that the news didn't mention that.

The facility is responsible for posting important information on roadway message boards about lane closures due to crashes, construction, etc. It's a good thing the other two operators picked up their slack or someone could have been killed due to the lack of proper information being posted.

In April of this year, an anonymous email was sent to associate vice president and office leader George Gilhooley complaining about the sleeping on duty and warning that if was not taken care of that FDOT and the media would be alerted to what was happening and the waste and abuse of taxpayer funds would be exposed. HNTB's response was to launch an investigation into who sent the email. Their contract with FDOT was open for bids at the time (they were again awarded the contract; this time for 5 years) and they were less concerned with correcting the problem than silencing someone who was making waves and could possibly cost them a lot of easy money. After all, they only put bodies in the seats and supply nothing else. Out of the $100 per hour they received, the contract called for $12 for operators, $15 for lead operators, $20 for supervisors and $30 for the manager of the center. That's a huge profit margin for poor performance when you consider the sleeping, traffic camera abuse, constant lateness that was never corrected on time cards, etc.

My friend got caught up in the investigation because one of the employees, in an attempt to save his own skin, dug up and gave to HR a 6 month old email where he asked my friend what he thought of a draft of an email he was going to send to the manager concerning his allegations that another employee was abusing traffic cameras by zooming in on girls in parking lots, motels, etc. His response was that the manager, Shannon Watterson, would take no action (as she had done nothing about a supervisor and lead operator who routinely arrived late for work and had done so for years). He stated in his reply that he would have better luck contacting the local news with his allegations.

The HR person, Yvonne Lopez-Diaz, deemed his reply to the email potentially embarrassing to HNTB if it ever got out and he was fired a few days later by George Gilhooley who he had not seen in the building but 3 times over 4 years. Basically, since they could not prove who sent the anonymous email, they used this as an excuse to take his job away. It is interesting to note that the person who originally sent the email to my friend asking for his opinion was not fired. One would think allegations of people being spied upon with traffic cameras they helped pay for would cause far more damage to their reputation. In spite of that and the fact that he was shown on the news sleeping at work, he still has his job. His name is Luis C. Hernandez of Orlando, Florida. The other employee, Evan Douglas Welker of Apopka, Florida was also shown on the news report sleeping, yet he also still has his job. It should be noted that both of these employees are lead operators, i.e. management.

My friend filed a complaint with the Office of the Chief Inspector General in Florida. They referred it to the FDOT Inspector General who then referred it to the FDOT District 5 secretary. Before becoming employed at HNTB, George Gilhooley worked at District 5 for FDOT for years. They then told the contractor, HNTB, to take care of the problem. In my opinion, that's like the police asking a criminal to investigate his own crimes. Needless to say, no serious action (loss of contract, employee termination) was ever taken against the contractor or the employees. In the news report, the FDOT
spokesman, Steve Olson, said they were satisfied the action (or lack of) that HNTB had taken. The one thing this appeared to show was that the state and HNTB are thick as thieves. FDOT certainly seems like they would rather cover things up than be publicly embarrassed and admit just how much money was wasted by their contractor.

When HNTB took over the RTMC contract in August of 2008, the first thing they did was to increase the staffing by one person on each shift even though it had run efficiently up till that time with the previous staffing levels. Why? Because there was one workstation that was empty and by filling it, they could collect another $2400 per day from FDOT. Other traffic management centers in Florida not run by HNTB are staffed with as few as one or two operators and still get the job done. If HNTB is awarded more contracts, they will undoubtedly increase the staffing in these centers as well, simply for the purpose of squeezing more funds from the state coffers and into their own bank account.

I am posting pictures I have obtained of the employees who slept on duty and still have their jobs.
As you can see by the photos, this was not an isolated incident for either one of them.
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#30 Consumer Comment

HNTB Corporation is no friend to Texans

AUTHOR: Tex - (United States of America)

The Austin American-Statesman ran a series of articles about this fiasco. Only a naive person would seriously think that the roughly $500,000 given by HNTB to the Republican Governors Association had nothing to do with them being awarded a huge no bid contract with virtually no oversight. There were originally no deadlines given and it appears HNTB took advantage of that.

 After a year and a half, they were well behind schedule. Places like Galveston, which had most of its infrastructure wiped out, could ill afford to wait for HNTB to get with the program. As a result of their actions, it is now estimated that disaster relief and the rebuilding of infrastructure are two years behind schedule. We Texans cannot afford these delays as HNTB drags their feet and counts their money - including the money we were overcharged.

According to the Statesman, "Based on invoices the auditors sampled, the company submitted only summary invoices for its work, without supporting documentation. When they examined the actual labor costs, auditors found that instead of using the standard federal multiplier of 147 percent, HNTB "stated that it multiplied the total average hourly rate for each position by 320 percent. As a result, we determined that all of its invoices contained inflated costs."

The federal audit recommended that Texas repay $9 million in overcharges by HNTB. When asked why the state does not seek reimbursement from HNTB, Gary Hagood, deputy commissioner of financial management at the state's General Land Office, said "We could." But his aim, he said, is to avoid a monetary penalty altogether.

HNTB has earned $112 million from the Texas Department of Transportation for various projects since 2007. I have to agree with the original post which states that we are not getting our money's worth from HNTB. Since so much money from federal grants for disaster relief has been paid to them, this affects not only Texans but all Americans whose tax dollars are used to fund this shameful display of political favoritism.

Other states should take note not only of the situation in Texas, but all the aforementioned incidents from the previous post of delays and design flaws before even considering awarding a contract to HNTB. Taxpayers are far more savvy these days than they realize and their political futures may well depend on them exercising common sense and putting public safety and fiscal responsibility ahead of backroom deals.
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#31 Consumer Comment

A Brief History of HNTB Problems

AUTHOR: Rob - (United States of America)

While I sympathize with the problems Texas has had in regard to HNTB Corporation, your state is by no means the only one affected by this company.

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority settled a lawsuit for $24 million in 2006 against four design firms. HNTB Corporation was one of them. The suit was brought because of design flaws in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center which opened in 2004. The center had problems with its roof drainage system, mechanical air-handling units, and roadway expansion joints and drains among other things. Before the settlement was reached, they were near the end of a five week trial in which the MCCA charged that HNTB Corporation and Rafael Vinoly Architects relied on cheaper, inexperienced staff to do the work, then had a senior architect fly to Boston to sign and stamp hundreds of design drawings without reviewing them.

HNTB was sued again in 2006 by the city of Toledo, Ohio due to delays in the Martin Luther King Bridge project which began the first phase of connstruction to refurbish and repair it in 2002. A subcontractor named Trevian Projects, LTD. was hired  to prepare shop drawings for fabrication based on HNTB's engineering plans. Trevian discovered what was called "severe design errors"  regarding the bridge's counterweights in late 2004. The delays were an impediment not only to road traffic, but also to boats because the King bridge is a lift bridge. The city initially sued three contractors involved with the project before dropping two of the suits and forming an alliance to go solely after HNTB.

On June 14, 2007, formwork under the top span of the Bay of St. Louis Bridge in Mississippi collapsed after a support column was struck by a tugboat. Two men fell about 50 feet into the bay and were killed. The tugboat owner and seven subcontractors, HNTB among them, were sued. HNTB was cited for two serious violations in the incident by OSHA and was fined $ 8,425.

In 2000, OSHA had also proposed $75,600 in fines for HNTB for 12 serious violations regarding failure to protect workers from asbestos at a toll plaza construction site in Maine.

The Minnesota Dept. of Transportation announced in 2008 that they had reached a $20 million settlement with HNTB because of stress cracks due to faulty engineering which had delayed construction on the Wakota Bridge.
On July 17, 2010 in Kansas City, Missouri, westbound lanes of Interstate 470 collapsed four hours after being closed by MoDOT officials because of cracking pavement. The designer, HNTB, also engineered the fix using a bridge extension.

In 2010, HNTB accepted responsibility for a faulty support column for a ramp of Milwaukee's Marquette Interchange. The structure was only two years old when engineers found cracks in a support column. HNTB executive Brian Swenson insisted the Marquette ramp was not in danger of collapse. "It's a safe structure without traffic on it," Swenson
said. (huh?) Just as in Texas, HNTB is well politicaly connected in Wisconsin. The company has given thousands to Governor Doyle and, in what would appear to be a conflict of interest, the Secretary of Transportation's son was working for HNTB at the time.

What concerns me more than old infrastructure crumbling are newer structures that are repairing or replacing them and are supposed to be safe. It's hard to be sure of that when you see reports like these. Cronyism is a problem threatens the safety of the public. Too many people automatically assume bridges and other structures will be safe and place
blind trust in those who designed and built them. They also rely on government to award contracts to the company that's best for the job, not the one who contributes the most to their political campaigns. Best of luck to you folks in Texas. Other states have made HNTB reimburse them for delays and substandard work. I'm sure yours can too. What's
that saying you have - "Don't mess with Texas"?
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