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Adelphia Contract Becomes Hot Potato in Pennsylvania

A voice and data contract with Adelphia Business Solutions has become a political football in Pennsylvania.

The state's Democratic auditor general has sought a court's assistance in obtaining contract information from the administration of Republican Gov. Mark Schweiker.

Auditor General Bob Casey Jr. — who just lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary to former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell — has asked a Commonwealth Court to force the state's budget and administration secretaries to answer his subpoenas.

Casey has questions about the five-year, $228 million agreement with Adelphia Business, also known as ABIZ, to provide telephone and data services to all state offices and universities.

In a prepared statement, Casey said he wanted to make sure the service agreement with the now-bankrupt firm — the competitive local-exchange carrier unit of troubled Coudersport, Pa.-based MSO Adelphia Communications Corp. — had been properly awarded. Casey asserts the contract was awarded "behind closed doors" and wants assurance that state officials exercised due diligence.

The records dispute began two years ago, before ABIZ filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Casey wants documents including the original requests for qualified contractors, the evaluation and the "scoring sheets" used to judge potential vendors and the losing providers' proposals.

Under state law, all documents must be maintained for a minimum of three years and released to the auditor general upon request, Casey maintains. But Secretary of Budget Robert Bittenbender and Secretary of Administration Fritz Bittenbender have not complied with three-week-old subpoenas from Casey.

Those officials said the role of the auditor general is to see that state procurement policy is fair and meets the letter of the law. Casey's actions are a "political exercise" meant to second-guess the administration of the opposing party, according to their statements.

Casey filed suit Oct. 3 to obtain the information on ABIZ.