Herrera Task Force to Maximize Efficiency, Accountability in S.F. Stimulus Spending

City Attorney’s Central Role Enables Office to Streamline, Scrutinize Federal Monies ‘Without Needing to Invent Costly New Bureaucracy’

SAN FRANCISCO (March 26, 2009) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced the appointment of the City Attorney’s Stimulus Spending Task Force to coordinate legal compliance by City departments, and guarantee maximum transparency, efficiency and accountability for City investments made possible by the federal government’s recently enacted $787 billion economic stimulus package.

Herrera’s Task Force combines expertise and experience in a range of contracting issues from within the City Attorney’s Office, centralizing relevant practice areas and capabilities that include: contracts and grants; Sunshine and open government; construction and public works; land use and environment; federal funds compliance; and fraud investigations and litigation. Herrera has charged the task force with scrutinizing the entire lifecycle of projects funded by federal stimulus monies — from grant applications, through federal audit processes, to final deliverables.

“Our paramount duty is to ensure that this unprecedented level of federal funding is invested honestly and in ways that deliver real value to our communities and our children — we will not tolerate waste, fraud or abuse,” Herrera said. “When President Obama signed the recovery and stimulus package into law, he challenged all of us in public life to prove to the American people that their trust in government is not misplaced. Because of the central role my office already plays as legal counsel to all City departments, we are uniquely positioned to coordinate, streamline, and scrutinize San Francisco’s citywide efforts — without needing to invent costly new bureaucracy. I am very confident that the dedicated public servants I have appointed to the City Attorney’s Stimulus Spending Task Force are well matched to the challenges of this important endeavor.”

Herrera has charged the task force with a five-part mission: (1) to guarantee full public transparency for project planning, bidding and expenditures; (2) to assure stringent oversight and accountability over project expenditures, management and deliverables; (3) to fast-track processes to the greatest extent possible for contractors seeking to meet local and state requirements; (4) to coordinate citywide compliance in meeting federal application and auditing requirements; (5) to thoroughly investigate and aggressively pursue waste, fraud or abuse, whether by public employees or private contractors.

San Francisco has identified more than $2 billion in federal funding requests for local investments that include airport infrastructure and security upgrades, Muni service improvements, high-speed rail, creating green jobs, cost-saving medical records technology, and expanding broadband Internet access to underserved communities. In signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, President Obama identified unprecedented safeguards in how federal recovery dollars would be awarded, distributed and scrutinized. The President made clear that every taxpayer dollar spent on economic recovery is subject to stringent transparency and accountability standards.

The following are Herrera’s appointees to the City Attorney’s Stimulus Spending Task Force:

* Deputy City Attorney Robert Maerz leads Herrera’s Airport Team, where he serves as general counsel to San Francisco International Airport, a public enterprise with annual revenue in excess of $650 million. Maerz will chair Herrera’s task force. An acknowledged expert in public contracting, procurement, and regulatory matters, Maerz played a key role in successfully concluding Herrera’s fraud litigation against Tutor-Saliba Corp., which the City settled in 2006 for $19 million.

* Deputy City Attorney Sheryl Bregman serves on Herrera’s Construction Team, where she provides transactional advice on public works, including professional design and construction procurement, contracts, and prevailing wage enforcement claims. Since joining the office in 1995, she has represented the City in numerous litigation and administrative hearing matters, and has drafted legislation governing public works contracting, false claims and contractor debarment.

* Deputy City Attorney Ronald Flynn serves on Herrera’s Complex and Special Litigation Team. An experienced trial lawyer who has overseen complex litigation matters in federal and state courts, Flynn has worked on a number of large litigation matters involving allegations of public works fraud. He also serves on Herrera’s Affirmative Litigation Task Force, which investigates and files suit on matters involving consumer protection, public health and other important public policy priorities.

* Deputy City Attorney Andrew Shen serves on Herrera’s Ethics Team. A specialist in conflict of interest, government ethics and open government law, Shen serves as legal counsel to San Francisco’s Ethics Commission, Elections Department and Elections Commission. He has developed citywide training materials for the office’s Sunshine and Ethics Training for city officials and employees, and is co-editor of the City Attorney’s Good Government Guide.

* Policy and Grants Manager Cynthia Caporizzo serves on Herrera’s Children and Family Services Team. Caporizzo is an authority on federal and state grant programs, with expertise ranging from grant solicitation and implementation processes to audit and compliance issues. She helped establish and oversee implementation of the Clinton Administration’s $8 billion COPS program in the U.S. Department of Justice, and specialized in criminal justice grants under former Mayor Willie Brown.

* Assistant Chief Investigator George Cothran serves on Herrera’s Investigations Team. An accomplished investigative reporter prior to his career in public sector investigations, Cothran led the inquiry that uncovered an elaborate national scam to defraud the federal E-Rate program intended to benefit underserved school districts. Both Cothran and Herrera testified before Congress on that investigation, which formed the basis for the City’s groundbreaking federal whistleblower lawsuit.