The School District's Audit and Finance Committee (AFC) on Monday selected the firm of McGladrey LLP to conduct a long-planned forensic audit of the Horace O'Bryant School construction project.
The School Board ordered the audit in an effort to recover construction-related funds that could number in the millions of dollars.
Earlier this year, a document-gathering "attestation" of the building project performed by local CPA Steve Pribramsky raised a number of questions about billing, behavior and alleged savings that prompted the board to unanimously seek a more comprehensive investigation.
The AFC will officially recommend that the district approve McGladrey's $45,000 bid at the Oct. 22 School Board meeting in Marathon. The board is expected to rubber stamp the AFC's recommendation.
"All the presentations we heard were excellent," said Stuart Kessler, vice chair of the audit committee. "They're all very experienced and have a similar approach. The McGladrey bid just happened to win more points when the vote was taken. A number of the [AFC] members felt that their size would ensure their independence with the audit."
Five companies responded to the district's request for proposals. Those were narrowed down to three bids at the AFC's Sept. 23 meeting, which was attended by two representatives of the company whose work will be audited, Coastal Construction of Miami. A representative of Coastal also attended Monday's meeting.
Besides McGladrey, which is headquartered in Chicago and has offices throughout Florida and the U.S., the other bidders included another large accounting outfit, Carr, Riggs and Ingram LLC, as well as the Florida Keys-based Bishop, Rosasco and Co.
District 3 board member Ed Davidson, a strong supporter of the audit, expressed satisfaction with the winning bid.
"I found it very impressive," Davidson said of the presentation. "While referring to the challenges of the comprehensive scope of work that I helped generate, they displayed not only a broad array of credentials and relevant experience with many Florida school districts, but also recited a readily accessible network of specialists in all of the fields related to such complex inquiries -- people who are already part of their in-house network, instead of independent subcontractors."
The entire audit process should take about 60 days from the time they're approved by the board to the end, Kessler said.