State Agency Files Formal Complaint Against City of Irvine’s Auditor for its Work on Discredited Great Park Audit
California Board of Accountancy that protects the public from violations of accounting laws and regulations to conduct a hearing concerning a formal complaint filed against the City of Irvine’s accounting firmSAN DIEGO, CA (January 16, 2018) – The City of Irvine’s accounting firm Hagen, Streiff, Newton & Oshiro, Accountants, PC (“HSNO”) disseminated false information, committed repeated acts of negligence, and failed to comply with professional standards in its review of the Orange County Great Park, according to a formal complaint filed before the California Board of Accountancy Department of Consumer Affairs (“Board of Accountancy”). This action is a result of a complaint Gafcon Inc. filed with the Board of Accountancy in 2014 demanding HSNO completely exonerate the company from false allegations contained in a preliminary report presented to the City and the Public by HSNO on the Great Park project.
In 2013, the Irvine City Council formed a two-member audit subcommittee consisting of Christina Shea and Jeff Lalloway to conduct a “forensic audit” of $250 million of Great Park expenditures and the contracts of the companies working on the Great Park project. Gafcon, a construction management firm, was a key member of the Great Park Design Studio that oversaw the Great Park’s Master Plan and design preparation work. The audit committee hired consultants, including HSNO, to perform the audit and issue two reports. Both reports were widely criticized by the media and the public as having numerous factual inaccuracies, incorrect assumptions, and speculative conclusions.
In 2016, the California State Auditor also issued an independent investigative report which criticized the City of Irvine and its audit subcommittee for exercising poor governance during the audit of the Great Park and not following appropriate industry standards which “needlessly compromised” the audit’s credibility.
“We are extremely proud of our work on the Great Park project, which continues to be recognized for innovative and efficient planning and management, and we are pleased that the California Board of Accountancy has investigated our complaint and has decided to file a formal complaint against the City of Irvine’s accounting firm. We have always maintained that the audit was severely compromised,” said Gafcon CEO Yehudi Gaffen. “We hope that the Board of Accountancy process sets the record straight and provides a more complete picture of events and decisions surrounding the Great Park.”
Since the release of the City of Irvine’s audit, Gafcon has disputed every allegation contained in the report that concerned the company by providing video footage and written documentation refuting each false claim and demonstrating the extent to which councilmembers were involved in decision-making related to the Park. In the interest of transparency regarding Gafcon’s work on the project, the company posted all of the evidence for public viewing at www.greatparktruth.com.
“Since the beginning of this audit, we have cooperated with the City of Irvine and its auditors, providing thousands of documents and responding to every question posed to us,” said Gaffen. “We were always confident that the findings in the audit would ultimately be discredited. In the wake of this latest development, we hope the City of Irvine will formally exonerate Gafcon and all the contractors who worked tirelessly to provide the residents of Orange County with the award-winning Master Plan for the Great Park.”
Gafcon began working on the Orange County Great Park project in 2006, in conjunction with Ken Smith Landscape Architect, Inc. The two entities joined together to form the Great Park Design Studio, which served as the primary contractor during the Master Plan Design Phase and the Schematic Design Phase. Since beginning work on the Great Park project, Gafcon cooperated with the requests of the City of Irvine, including prior audits commissioned by the City that found no material issues regarding the Design Studio or Gafcon’s performance. The Design Studio followed its contractual requirements and related directions given by the City of Irvine and the Great Park Board of Directors in a professional manner, completing the work on time and within budget. There was full oversight of the public funds for this project, and all spending was approved by the City Council and Great Park Board of Directors.
The Great Park master plan and schematic design have received numerous national awards from key organizations for planning and vision, including the Southern California Association of Governments 2010 4th Annual Compass Blueprint Recognition Award-Honorable Mention, American Institute of Architects 2009 AIA Honor Award in Regional and Urban Design, the American Society of Landscape Architects 2009 ASLA Professional Honor Award for General Design, the American Planning Association (National) 2009 APA Focused Planning Issue Award, the American Society of Landscape Architects 2009 National Award for Research, the American Institute of Architects 2008 AIA Honor Award in Regional & Urban Design, the American Society of Landscape Architects 2008 ASLA National Honor Award for Analysis & Planning, American Planning Association (California and OC Chapters) 2008 APA Focused Planning Issue Award, California Society for Ecological Restoration 2007 SERCAL Members Award, and selected as part of the 2008 Sustainable Sites Initiative Case Study.
Gafcon is a globally respected program and construction management consulting firm with more than 130 employees with offices in San Diego and Los Angeles. A family-owned business, Gafcon has a long history of involvement in the region and has successfully overseen more than $4 billion worth of construction projects on time and within budget, providing continual transparency to clients, public entities, oversight committees, and taxpayers. To learn more about Gafcon please visit www.gafcon.com.