In its July 7 report (Auditor: D.C.’s sports betting company is far behind on requirements to hire locally), the Post allows Auditor Kathleen Patterson to continue the DC Government’s reputation as unfriendly to businesses with an error-filled cheap shot at an accomplished minority-owned company, Veterans Service Corporation.
As a longtime DC business leader, I am appalled that this audit lacked facts or validation before it went public. Patterson notes that lottery vendor Intralot is required to direct at least 35 percent of its proceeds to companies owned and operated in the District then falsely accuses them of spending less than 1 percent in the contract’s first year.
The District of Columbia requires the 35 percent figure. Out of respect for minority participation, Intralot pledged to boost that to 55 percent. The percentage is based on proceeds calculated over five years, not the fixed $215 million figure that Auditor Patterson erroneously uses to do her math. Since the contract’s first year coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, sales suffered. Still, Intralot directed about 30 percent of proceeds to local small businesses and has four more years to boost that number. Intralot’s minority partner, Veterans Services Corporation, provided this and other facts to the Post which unfortunately were not published.
Councilwoman Elissa Silverman requested the audit from Auditor Patterson – who chaired her Council campaign. This raises questions about the integrity of the audit and whether or not it was truly independent. Councilmember Silverman also took to social media with irresponsible, misinformation on this topic, further damaging the audit’s credibility and hurting DC’s Certified Business Enterprises.
Barbara Lang and Managing Principal and CEO of DC-based Lang Strategies and former President and CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce.