An architectural contract worth $4.6 million, between the University of Illinois and BLDD Architects, has been put on hold and will undergo investigation after questions about a conflict of interest arose. BLDD is partly owned by Bruce Maxey, the husband of the associate director of planning a the school, Jill Maxey.
Bruce Maxey owns 8.9 percent of the business contracted by the university and Jill Maxey worked at BBLD prior to taking her current university position.
The state Procurement Policy Board has already voted once to void the contract and are expected to review it again on Tuesday. Both the university and BBLD disclosed the details regarding the Maxey’s involvement in the business, but state law prohibits contracts that feature a conflict of interest.
“I did not think there was enough transparency so that I could look anybody in the eye and say, ‘There’s no way that this woman was involved in that project. You’ve got to put it out there where reporters and other individuals can look at it and say, ‘Ah, that was a fair process.’” said Bill Black, a member of the procurement Board.
Officials at the University of Illinois said they didn’t realise they had to get specific permission from the board as the law is relatively new. They went on to explain that they conducted the development of the contract within the law.
The board discovered the potential conflict in March and in April voted unofficially to void the contract. One board member, Ed Bedore, went as far as to say school officials acted as though they are “above the law”.
An architect is required for the development of the school’s Natural History Building and BBLD was chosen out of 33 possible candidates. The school is now waiting on the outcome of the meeting and will act accordingly.
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