Photo by Angelle Bergeron for ENR
Disputed project would replace temporary system of canal gate closures and pumps.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not comply with statutory and regulatory requirements in its award last April of a $675-million design-build contract for flood control upgrades in New Orleans, the U.S. Government Accountability Office ruled Aug. 4 in a bid protest decision.

The Corps did not comment on the decision or provide details on how it will respond.

GAO upheld protests by two losing bidders:PCCP Constructors, a Fort Worth-based joint venture of Kiewit Corp., Traylor Bros. Inc, and M.R. Pittman Group; and Bechtel Infrastructure Corp., Frederick, Md.

The Corps had awarded the contract for the project, the Permanent Canal Closures and Pump stations (PCCP) to CBY Design Builders, a joint venture of CDM, Cambridge, Mass., Birmingham, Ala.-based Brasfield & Gorrie, and Yates Construction, Philadelphia, Miss.

"We are certainly disappointed with the GAO recommendations because we were ready to start the project," says Robert Davis, CBY project manager. "We are now looking forward to responding to the Corps' revisions to the solicitation.

In a statement, Ralph O. White, GAO managing associate general counsel for procurement law, pointed to several flaws in the Corps evaluation of the proposals.

White said that the Corps failed to properly investigate and mitigate "unfair competitive advantage and organizational conflict of interest" related to CDM's hiring of Richmond Kendrick last fall as a project manager.

Kendrick is formerly chief of program execution for the Corps Hurricane Protection Office, responsible for the project and its procurement. Kendrick retired from the Corps in August 2010, several months before CBY won the contract.

GAO's decision also refers to the possibility of bidders being "misled about the role of price in the evaluation," says White. That may refer to the Corps's best value selection, but the agency declines to give details and will not make public its decision because of competitive information that may factor into a subsequent procurement, it says.

Related to pump station operation, GAO also notes a technical discrepancy, says White."The Corps evaluation was flawed because the agency failed to determine whether CBY's approach would meet the solicitation's requirements for withstanding lateral loads," he says.