Contract Awarded for Design of Diagnostic Treatment Center in Vieques, More Than a Year After Funds Were Obligated

A year and four months after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced a $39.5 million obligation to rebuild the Susana Centeno Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Vieques, which Hurricane María destroyed in 2017, the Infrastructure Financing Authority (AFI), the agency to which the Municipality delegated the task of managing the project earlier this year, awarded a bid for the conceptual design of the new building to CSA Architects & Engineers, LLP, for $147,340. Thirty-seven companies procured the documents to participate in the bidding process, and nine companies submitted proposals. After awarding the contract to CSA Architects & Engineers, the document should be signed in the next few days, AFI stated. The company has had contracts with nearly 30 agencies, municipalities and public corporations for more than a decade for work related to technical services, design, architecture, surveying and repairs. Under Ricardo Rosselló’s administration, CSA Architects & Engineers locked down $26 million in contracts at 10 agencies, according to Comptroller records.

FEMA Avoids Addressing Incidents of Sexual and Workplace Harassment in Its Puerto Rico Office

Invitations to sexual threesomes from bosses, unsolicited comments about clothing, sexual organs and the carrying of firearms, and even forceful kisses in the workplace are some of the types of gender-based violence incidents that Puerto Rican female employees have experienced from supervisors and co-workers in the Puerto Rico office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which oversees the recovery process after Hurricanes Irma and María made landfall in 2017. The Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) received and confirmed these confidences through 13 testimonies from people who work or have worked for FEMA in Puerto Rico and who decided to tell their stories after the publication in March of an investigation by this media outlet that revealed a pattern of workplace harassment in the External Affairs Office of the federal agency, with at least six cases officially reported. There is now a total of 16 cases that the CPI has documented, the majority of which are from women who have officially filed complaints against several FEMA workers in Puerto Rico for alleged situations of sexual harassment, workplace harassment, persecution, intimidation, or discrimination due to age and gender during the job recruitment process and promotion. Some of these cases, which took place between 2018 and 2020, have remained unaddressed for more than three years and in certain instances, the employer keeps the people who filed the complaint close to their alleged aggressors and they have not been given any remedies. The CPI requested reactions and interviews on this matter for every claim related to FEMA, both local, regional, and the agency’s central office, but all refused to be interviewed and responded with general statements that do not address the questions asked and the issues reported.

Adjudicada la subasta para el diseño del CDT de Vieques a más de un año de asignados los fondos

A un año y cuatro meses de que la Agencia Federal para el Manejo de Emergencia (FEMA) anunciara la obligación de $39.5 millones para el reemplazo del Centro de Diagnóstico y Tratamiento Susana Centeno de Vieques, destruido por el huracán María en 2017, la Autoridad para el Financiamiento de la Infraestructura (AFI), agencia en la que el Municipio delegó la gerencia del proyecto a principios de año, adjudicó una subasta para el diseño conceptual del nuevo edificio a la compañía CSA Architects & Engineers, LLP, por $147,340. Treinta y siete compañías adquirieron los documentos para participar del proceso de subasta, y nueve empresas presentaron propuestas. Tras la adjudicación a CSA Architects & Engineers, el contrato debe firmarse en los próximos días, informó AFI. La empresa ha tenido contratos con cerca de 30 agencias, municipios y corporaciones públicas desde hace más de una década para trabajos relacionados con servicios técnicos, diseño, arquitectura, agrimensura y reparaciones. Bajo la administración de Ricardo Rosselló, CSA Architects & Engineers logró $26 millones en contratos en 10 agencias, según registros del Contralor.

Comptroller Hid Problems with Tu Hogar Renace Program

The Department of Housing (DH) paid more than $5 million for projects that were not done or were deficient under the Tu Hogar Renace housing reconstruction program, according to an evaluation by the Puerto Rico’s Office of the Comptroller (OCPR, in Spanish), conducted in 2018, but kept under wraps until now. The DH paid $5,817,382 for 633 work orders where at least one of the jobs was not done or was insufficient , as part of the program established after Hurricane María in 2017. The OCPR flagged the payment as contrary to the “policy that the Department established, that an unfinished case could not be processed for payment.” In addition, the Comptroller’s Office stated that the jobs that were not performed or that were carried out poorly were “certified as done by the Oversight Manager, the Program Manager, and ‘pre-intervened’ by the Department.” The DH did not   react to the findings of this story. The firm Hage & Integra appeared as Oversight Manager of Tu Hogar Renace, while Adjusters International was the Program Manager. Adjusters is a subsidiary of Rising Phoenix Holdings Corp., whose more than $207 million contract has been one of the largest granted with recovery funds in Puerto Rico.

Erosión de costa elevada amenaza a comunidades e infraestructura en Puerto Rico

Pedazos de cemento, piedras, desperdicios de construcción y algunos escombros separan la costa elevada en la comunidad Barrio Obrero de Arecibo del car wash con vista al mar en el cual trabaja Christian. El hombre, quien lleva toda su vida residiendo en esta comunidad, explica cómo han sido los vecinos quienes han intentado buscar opciones para enfrentar la erosión costera acelerada de los últimos años. El resultado ha sido una especie de relleno hecho con desechos de construcción, como para ganar terreno al mar. Con tono de resignación, dice que los políticos municipales se asoman por allí en pocas ocasiones, y que esas visitas esporádicas casi siempre ocurren durante el período de campañas electorales. “Como esto es un barrio pequeño, a casi nadie le importa”, dice al Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI), mientras busca el líquido de brillar gomas de carro.

Contralora ocultó los problemas de Tu Hogar Renace

El Departamento de la Vivienda (DV) pagó más de cinco millones de dólares por trabajos que no se realizaron o fueron deficientes bajo el programa de reconstrucción de viviendas Tu Hogar Renace, reveló una evaluación de la Oficina del Contralor de Puerto Rico (OCPR), que aunque se hizo en el 2018, se había mantenido en secreto. El DV pagó $5,817,382 por 633 órdenes de trabajo donde al menos uno de los trabajos no se hizo o fue deficiente, como parte del programa establecido tras el huracán María. Esta acción fue señalada por la OCPR como una contraria a la “política establecida por el Departamento, de que un caso no terminado no podía ser procesado para pago”. Además, la Contraloría indicó que los trabajos que no fueron realizados o que se hicieron de manera deficiente fueron “certificados como hechos por el Oversight Manager, el Program Manager, y ‘preintervenidos’ por el Departamento”. El DV no quiso reaccionar a los hallazgos de esta historia.