Maryland's statewide speed camera program has fallen once again into the crosshairs of government auditors. The General Assembly's Office of Legislative Audits last week released the result of its examination of the books for the highly profitable state's highway "work zone" speed camera program. Auditors for a second time found significant problems in the $28,550,756 deal it struck with the for-profit company that operates every aspect of the photo ticketing program.
In 2012, the auditor found the state essentially rigged the contract bidding process to ensure the highly connected photo ticketing firm ACS, which was acquired by Xerox and is now operating as Conduent, would land the contract (read 2012 audit report). The review of the new contract signed in 2015 revealed that the State Highway Administration has been letting Conduent do whatever it pleased without any oversight.
"SHA did not adequately monitor the Maryland SafeZones program vendor to ensure that the program was properly administered in compliance with all contract requirements," the audit report explained. "The contract contains certain vendor requirements, most of which are intended to ensure program compliance in accordance with state law and are necessary for the valid issuance of a citation when a speeding violation is detected."
For example, the law requires the use of warning signs with the speed cameras. Conduent was supposed to document its compliance daily at each ticketing location. The State Highway Administration never bothered reviewing these documents, and on-site inspections were not systematic. The state also failed to verify whether the speed camera van drivers had points on their license. Conduent failed to perform the regular checks it had promised to do, verifying compliance for only one out of three drivers.
The deal with Conduent expires at the end of 2020, but it can be extended for another two years bringing the company a grand total of $40,313,728 in revenue. The state selected Conduent over two other vendors, Brekford and Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia, even though they would have charged $6 million less. In justifying the contract award decisions, officials pointed to the superior understanding of the contract requirements and the law demonstrated by Conduent.
The review covered State Highway Administration functions between August 7, 2014, and June 30, 2017, and was conducted to assist lawmakers in their oversight of the agency. In its response to the auditors, the State Highway Administration accepted all of the recommendations, and promised to conduct more inspections of the speed camera vendors. The agency also agreed to conduct full background checks on speed camera van drivers. From January 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017 Conduent issued 354,000 tickets worth $14.2 million.
A copy of the audit is available in a 400k PDF file at the source link below.
Source: Audit Report - State Highway Administration (Maryland Office of Legislative Audits, 1/30/2019)