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Accountabilityby Fern Shen3:59 pmJan 8, 20200

Fired city risk manager gave his “bestie” inside contract information

“Corruption of the bidding process,” Baltimore’s Inspector General says in a report that explains last year’s dismissal of Douglas Kerr

Above: Douglas Kerr was Baltimore’s longtime risk manager. (LinkedIn)

Discount Ravens tickets, “terms of endearment” and the sharing of confidential bid documents with a vendor are among the details in a report by the Inspector General, confirming The Brew’s previous disclosure that the top official at Baltimore’s Office of Risk Management was dismissed.

Sources with knowledge of the matter verify that former risk management chief Douglas S. Kerr, identified by earlier Brew reporting, is Employee One in the IG’s report, one of two employees that the IG determined committed multiple ethics violations.

Kerr left his $122,000-a-year job last November. Neither he nor his deputy, LaKeesha Moore (identified by a source as Employee Two), are now working for the city, online records show.

“For years they were running it their way and looking out for their friends,” a source told The Brew.

Kerr, a longtime city bureaucrat, and Moore were basically perverting Baltimore’s procurement process to benefit a bidder, the IG’s investigation showed.

“For years they were running it their way and looking out for their friends.”

The two gave a vendor “potentially confidential information” pertaining to an upcoming workers compensation contract, according to the synopsis released Monday by Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming, who would not confirm or deny the identity of the employees.

“They manipulated the process to enhance the company’s chances of being awarded a contract,” a source said, describing a draft RFP as one of the documents provided to the vendor.

Moore could not be reached for comment. Kerr has not returned several phone messages left at his home and on a cell.

Henry Raymond, director of the Department of Finance, which oversaw the Office of Risk Management, has not responded to a request for comment.

Lucrative Contract

At stake during the time when the alleged ethics violations took place was a $34 million contract to administer Baltimore’s workers compensation program, which will be up for renewal this spring.

That cost covers evaluation and other medical services provided by Mercy Hospital, medication, software, expert witnesses and other expenses.

Kerr and Moore had a close relationship with an employee at York Risk Services Group, the city’s longtime third-party provider of workers compensation services, sources say.

“They sent a draft RFP [Request for Proposals] to York Risk and said, ‘This is what they’ll be looking for,’” the source told The Brew.

According to the IG report, the deputy forwarded emails to the vendor “outlining confidential city agency concerns” about the contract, including one with “a discussion about the release date of the RFP and how to handle concerns raised by an internal city agency.”

A person at the York office where the employee worked said she is no longer employed by the company, whose automated phone message  says, “Sedgwick, formerly York.”

York Risk was acquired last year by the Memphis-based global claims administration company, Sedgwick.

“It is our policy not to comment on the status of a colleague nor to provide specifics on their current state of employment,” Judy Molnar, a vice president at Sedgwick, told The Brew in an email.

Cumming’s report notes that “the employee at the vendor was terminated as well.”

Semmes, Bowen & Semmes is Out

Sources describe Kerr’s close relationship with his contact at York and with his contacts at Semmes, Bowen & Semmes, the law firm that has for years managed the city employee workers comp program offered by York, the source told The Brew.

Semmes’ middleman role ended under City Solicitor Andre Davis, who brought workers comp management “in-house,” to be overseen by the Law Department rather than Finance.

As a result of that change, which took effect in July 2018, the Law Department says the city has realized more than $300,000 savings.

“They’ve hired some good lawyers over there,” acknowledged Rudolph L. Rose, a Semmes attorney who specializes in workers comp issues, declining to discuss the matter further, saying, “I don’t talk to reporters.”

Getting two Ravens tickets from the vendor employee for a discounted price of $25 each.

Cumming’s report noted how Kerr spoke on multiple occasions of his “close relationship” with the vendor’s employee, using various terms of endearment.

“She’s my bestie,” Kerr would say, according to the source.

The report also notes that Employee Two “accepted two Baltimore Ravens tickets from the vendor employee for a discounted price of $25 each” and did not disclose it on her ethics forms.

Sharing “Funny” Claims

Kerr and the deputy also shared with individuals outside of city government emails describing two workers comp claims, according to Cumming’s report.

“Both emails contained possible personal identifying information of the employees involved and descriptions of the incidents that took place,” the report said. This could violate federal HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) privacy regulations, it noted.

“Doug would take claims he thought were silly or shocking or funny and share them with people outside the city as examples of ‘Oh, look what I have to deal with,’” the source said.

Actions potentially created “an unfair competitive advantage and corruption of the city’s bidding process.”

In addition to accepting the Ravens tickets and potentially violating HIPAA, the Inspector General found, the two employees “violated the Baltimore City Ethics Code by using their positions to obtain confidential information and disclosing the information to a vendor, which could potentially result in an unfair competitive advantage and corruption of the city’s bidding process.”

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