ANNAPOLIS -- A firm that includes William L. "Little Willie" Adams, a political ally of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, has been disqualified as a minority subcontractor in the state's new lottery computer contract by state officials who say the firm had neither the equipment nor the experience to do $1.2 million a year in lottery printing.
WBS Inc., of which Mr. Adams is treasurer, was one of the minority-owned firms that GTECH Corp., of Rhode Island, included in its bid to win the state's $64 million contract for lottery master computers and sales terminals.
The state lottery contract includes a "10 percent minimum goal" of participation by minority-owned firms. WBS Inc. was among the firms included in GTECH's minority enterprise component.
Mr. Adams, a businessman once known for running an illegal numbers game in Baltimore, and his associates stood to earn about 11 percent of the five-year contract.
But state officials, in reviewing the minority contractors, concluded that WBS Inc., which was incorporated last year, was not qualified to do the printing for the lottery.
"He did not have the experience and he did not have the equipment," said Rebecca Reid, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, which reviews minority participation in state contracts.
She added that WBS has filed an objection and its appeal will be heardat a time yet to be scheduled.
The state's contract with GTECH includes a section that says the contract may be voided if the company is unable to provide certain information regarding its minority subcontractors within 10 days of the firm's selection by the state.
But state officials said yesterday that the lottery could decide GTECH's level of minority participation is acceptable even if WBS should be excluded as a minority. And WBS could continue to work on the contract even if it is never given official minority status.
GTECH won the lucrative lottery contract last spring after a hard-fought battle -- fraught with charges and countercharges of political jockeying -- with Control Data Corp., which had been supplying the lottery computers.
Craig Watson, staff director for GTECH, said the company would have no comment on the WBS disqualification. He said GTECH had "exceeded the 10 percent proposal" for minority work in its original bid but acknowledged that he was not certain if WBS' withdrawal would reduce its level of minority work below that threshold.
"We are reviewing that now," Mr. Watson said. "This is an issue between WBS and the state of Maryland certifying process." He said GTECH, which operates lotteries in other states, routinely meets its minority business requirements. "From the GTECH point of view, we're not real worried."