Investigation finds city contracts involving Animal Welfare showed ‘favoritism’

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque’s Animal Welfare Department once again finds itself under scrutiny. This time an Office of the Inspector General investigation found department heads played favorites and unfairly awarded thousands of dollars in city contracts to a mysterious consulting agency.

“We’ve put together a great team of professionals, we’ve created a shared vision of success, we’ve fostered a culture of excellence and innovation,” said Danny Nevarez, the former Director of the City of Albuquerque’s Animal Welfare Department, back in August 2019. “And most importantly we have Mayor Keller and his administration standing behind us.”

Nevarez is a longtime City of Albuquerque employee. He left the city in January amid an Inspector General investigation.

The recently released 24-page OIG report found Nevarez showed favoritism in awarding expensive city contracts to his friend, without sending those contracts out for bid. A complaint to the Inspector General claims a company called Beehive Technology, LLC was being used as a front to pay a subcontractor, Nevarez’s friend, to do consulting work after her company, ‘Organizational Change Management,’ reached its contract limit with the city.

Before landing at Animal Welfare, Nevarez worked at the Environmental Health Department. The Inspector General report states that’s how Nevarez knew the head of OCM, a company that made at least $225,000 through city contracts.

The report states during the contract with Environmental Health, OCM’s employee was “also doing work for five other City departments.” Some billing periods showed she was “getting paid for working on three different department contracts on the same dates,” the IG report states.

In July 2018 as Nevarez was transitioning to Animal Welfare, Beehive Technology was awarded a city contract to work with Animal Welfare. Its only employee was the same woman who used to work for Organizational Change Management.

Animal Welfare employees said it’s unclear what work Beehive did for the city. Beehive’s website still shows it’s under construction, and a Facebook page calls itself a Consulting Agency and Software Company.

The Inspector General report points out Beehive invoices to the city are “vague, repetitive and unclear.” Invoices show Beehive billing the city thousands of dollars for “Process facilitation services to Animal Welfare Department,” with no further detail of work done.

The Inspector General recommended written policy and better training for staff to approve contracts and invoices. A new director took over Animal Welfare in May.

According to the report, Animal Welfare told the Inspector General that vendors in this investigation were barred from further business with the city and “appropriate disciplinary action would be taken where warranted.”

The City of Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department provided the following statement to KRQE:

When leadership was informed of these issues they were immediately reported it to the Inspector General. The director mentioned in the report no longer works for the City of Albuquerque, and the Animal Welfare Department has begun implementing the recommendations to keep these issues from reoccurring in the future.

Desiree Cawley, Marketing Manager, Animal Welfare Department.

Read Inspector General Report

Related Coverage:

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