New Bid Protests Halt Contract Execution on Corps Flood Job
Two weeks after the Corps of Engineers re-awarded the contract to build a massive permanent flood-control structure in New Orleans, the job's procurement nightmare goes on.
The latest chapter follows 18 months of bid protests, a court challenge and a forced rebid.
Bechtel Infrastructure and CDM Smith-led CBY Design-Builders, losing bidders to PCCP Constructors, a Kiewit-led team that won the $629.5-million contract on Sept. 29, protested the re-award to the U.S. Government Accountability Office on Oct. 15.
The protests by Kiewit and Bechtel started in 2011 when the design-build contract was first awarded to CBY. The problems cited in the initial protest involved price, technical design issues and even alleged conflicts-of-interest.
A Corps spokesman confirms the new protests but would not comment on their content or impact on project progress. Originally set for completion in 2014, the procurement issues have already delayed the work two more years.
A GAO spokesman says the agency has until about Jan. 23 to decide the new protest, effectively halting contract execution from proceeding, say attorneys familar with the case and federal procurement law.
“CBY Design Builders as well as Bechtel Infrastructure Corp. have filed bid protests with [GAO] regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to award the permanent canal closure and pump stations project to the PCCP Constructors JV based on its low price and inferior technical approach,” says a statement from CBY.
Kiewit did not comment by ENR.com's deadline.
According to an attorney familiar with the legal proceedings in the case, Bechtel and CBY had five days from the time of their debriefings by the Corps on the PCCP Constructors award earlier this month to file the protests and stay contract execution.
PCCP Constructors, which includes Traylor Bros. and M.R. Pittman Group LLC, was one of two original bidders that protested the original $675-million contract awarded to CBY in April 2011. Bechtel also protested. GAO upheld the protests last year and ordered the rebid; CBY challenged that ruling in the U.S. Court of Claims.
In May, the court upheld the reprocurement, agreeing with GAO on the need for changes in technical design specifications and in confusing price requirements in bid documents. But the court dismissed the conflict-of-interest allegation against CBY.
The project work involves permanant closures and pump stations along three drainage canals in New Orleans, all needed because of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Says one dispute participant who did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak, "This was the last of the big post-Katrina contracts in New Orleans and it's been hard-fought. The Corps was aware [the new protests] would happen."