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Baltimore panel recommends London company for controversial DPW efficiency contract

A London-based consultant is in negotiations with Baltimore for a highly watched efficiencies study of the city's Department of Public Works, officials said Wednesday.

The city's Architectural and Engineering Awards Commission recommended that PA Consulting Group be considered for study of the city's water and wastewater treatment plants. The city is looking to pay about $500,000 for the review, but an amount hasn't yet been finalized.

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The contract is expected to go before the Board of Estimates for approval in the coming weeks.

The bid by PA Consulting was selected by the commission Wednesday after considering the firm's experience and availability of key staff, among other criteria, officials said. A second proposal was submitted by the French company Veolia.

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Labor organizers and advocacy groups, including the nonprofit Corporate Accountability International and the One Baltimore United coalition, had raised concern about Veolia, and the potential for the contract to lead to a sale of the city's public water system. That's a claim city officials have strongly refuted.

Charly Carter, director of Maryland Working Families, a member of the coalition, said the city should have looked toward internal expertise rather than an outside firm to study efficiencies but called the decision "a step in the right direction."

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