Commission violated fed policy: HUD

Feds say attorney improperly hired

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ONTONAGON — A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official on Monday informed the Housing Commission Board that it violated federal guidelines in hiring a legal firm.

The board heard from HUD Revitalization Specialist Valerie Sims, who is serving as project manager for the commission and explained HUD’s findings via speaker phone at Monday’s meeting.

Sims said in hiring a Marquette-based attorney from Kendricks, Bordeau, Keefe, Seavoy & Larsen, the board violated federal policy for procurement of legal services.

Procurement is the role of the Housing Commission’s executive director, not the board, Sims said, because the director is solely authorized to approve contracts.

The board serves in an oversight capacity, with the director reporting back findings to it.

“Somewhere along the line the board got confused, and they took on the role of the procurement officer,” Sims explained.

The contract with the firm was accordingly terminated once it was determined to be in noncompliance.

“A lot of times you have an intention to do good on a board, you have financial responsibility, you have integrity but you need further training,” she added.

Sims instructed members of the board to complete “Lead the Way” training by July 31. She said the training covering topics like responsibilities, governance and management.

“It will cover all the areas that a board should know,” she said.

Sims also instructed the board and the director to work together on an update of the procurement policy, which was missing new regulations and develop a better plan of action.

The update must be submitted to the Detroit HUD field office when approved.