The Illinois Capital Development
Board has budgeted $500,000 to determine if the state is
owed money from any of the contractors who worked on the
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
The state could challenge as much as $15 million in
spending as a result of its re-examination of the $150
million project, officials said.
Several years in the works and a couple years past
deadline, the library and museum hit many snags on the
way toward completion. Two parts of the project -
renovation of Union Station and a new park - still are
Politicians disagreed over the complex's scope and
who would preside over it. Construction problems led to
delays and expensive adjustments. The museum's exhibit
designer, Burbank, Calif.-based BRC Imagination Arts,
debated with the building's architect, Gyo Obata, of St.
Louis-based Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, over floor
BRC received about $56.7 million for its work on the
museum, by far the largest share of the total $150
million in federal, state, and local funds allocated for
As the holder of the most lucrative contract, BRC was
the focus of a story in Sunday's Chicago Tribune calling
attention to CDB's decision to scrutinize how money was
While $10 million of the $15 million in question went
to BRC, CDB officials say the firm is not suspected of
"We're not specifically looking into BRC, but into
the entire project," said Melaney Arnold, CDB
The state has hired a law firm and a claims analyst
to survey all work done by contractors on all stages of
the project, the Tribune reported. So far, CDB has paid
about $100,000 to the firms doing the cost inspections:
URS and Bell, Boyd and Lloyd.
A host of job changes and contract modifications were
necessary during the last phases of the project, from
the final pieces being put into place in the library
through to the end of the museum's construction, Arnold
said. At some point, she said, it became inevitable that
CDB would need to go over how money was spent.
"This is a unique project and one of the largest for
CDB," she said. "And it just grew and grew. The cost
changed drastically, and as (these) things happened, we
knew we would revisit (the costs) when we had time."
A story earlier this year by The State
Journal-Register documented how BRC spent much of its
share on state-of-the-art exhibits and technology. The
Tribune's story also detailed some of BRC's expenses and
reviewed the history of the library and museum's
In addition to discovering the state's interest in
recouping some of the project's cost, the Tribune found
that BRC spent about $356,000 of its proceeds to hire
law and lobbying firms to negotiate with the state on
Using government funds to hire firms to lobby for
more government funds is not common, Arnold said, but
it's not unheard of with large-scale projects, either.
Both CDB officials and BRC's president, Bob Rogers,
have said that BRC's final contract amount was a
compromise - a little less than what BRC wanted and a
little more than what the state had hoped to spend.
"In the end, we mutually agreed on what had to
happen," Rogers told The State Journal-Register earlier.
"And it turned out fine. The results speak for
Pete Sherman can be reached at 788-1539 or