OIG review: Jacksonville climate leader appears to show ‘preferential treatment’ in $4.3M contracts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A review by the City of Jacksonville’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded Chief Resilience Officer Anne Coglianese appeared to show “preferential treatment” which led to $4.3 million in city contracts for resiliency consulting work awarded to companies that employ her former co-workers from Louisiana.

Action News Jax’s Ben Becker obtained an anonymous confidential complaint filed in July against Coglianese, who was hired in 2021 by former Mayor Lenny Curry.


The OIG investigated whether Coglianese was “ … allegedly steering COJ contract awards to companies that employed her personal friends and coworkers during her employment with the City of New Orleans.”

The OIG review found no evidence Coglianese committed any procurement or ethics violations, but it did conclude “ … a reasonable person could assume she has shown preferential treatment to her former co-workers or possibly created a conflict of interest with these contract actions.”

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Action News Jax first reported on Oct. 13 that Coglianese and Mayor Donna Deegan introduced “Resilient Jacksonville,” a 50-year strategy to protect the River City from climate change.

“The plan is designed to make sure the city’s infrastructure is strong,” Deegan said during the announcement.

“We have water from all angles,” Coglianese said.

The resiliency plan is also raising questions about how qualified the companies were to perform the work.

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The Water Institute and CSRS are out of Baton Rouge, one sub-contractor Deltares is based in the Netherlands, and another sub-contractor Halff is a Jacksonville-based engineering firm, according to the city.

“The authors of this document have little to no institutional knowledge of the St. Johns River or what happened the last few years,” said coastal engineer Erik Olsen, who served on a sub-committee for the report. He said he sent his own resiliency study to the city that he completed for Shad Khan’s Iguana Investments as part of the Shipyards development and never heard back from the mayor’s office.

Olsen said the city plan has a faulty foundation because the consultants deferred to FEMA data from Hurricane Irma, which he believes is wrong based on what he measured.

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“South of the Fuller Warren Bridge, the elevations are low by 2-3 feet, so if those are used for planning and recommendations, that’s an issue,” Olsen said. “I have no reason to believe the best collection of consultants were assembled for this particular resiliency study.”

Olsen said the city report doesn’t address its most valuable future investment -- the proposed $2 billion stadium renovation.

“There needs to be a resiliency analysis around the stadium area and that has not been done,” Olsen said.

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In the review, OIG recommended that the City of Jacksonville incorporate the general ethics principles from the Department of Justice into its regulations.

City of Jacksonville statement:

“While the OIG report found that no procurement or ethics regulations were violated, Ms. Coglianese has been counseled to avoid the appearance of impropriety moving forward. The Procurement Division and Ethics Office have also been directed to include these guidelines in training materials and documentation for all city employees.

“The Water Institute partnered with Halff, a Jacksonville-based engineering firm, and Deltares, the world’s leading flood expert. Their work is based on the best available science and data from multiple sources and the most advanced data models in the industry.”

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