Additional GAO Recommendations

GAO recommends that the Corps assess the conflict-of-interest issue related to Kendrick, revise the solicitation and obtain and evaluate revised proposals. The Corps has 60 days to respond to GAO's recommendations, but the decision almost certainly means the Corps will have to reprocure the contract, says Chuck Young, a GAO spokesman.

A Corps spokesman could not predict how long the contract protest and the expected reprocurement would delay completing the project, a key component in the city's flood defenses.

"It's too early to know," says Ricky Boyette, spokesman for the New Orleans District. "Our contracting officers are in the process of reviewing that decision and figuring out what we need to do to comply." The Corps also declined to reveal its short list of bidders.

A Bechtel spokeswoman says the firm is "still reviewing the decision" and would not say if it will bid in any reprocurement. Spokesmen for Kiewit and Traylor did not return calls for comment.

The pump stations will replace interim structures that were built immediately after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They perform the dual role of blocking storm surge into the city and pumping out interior drainage stormwater. When the Corps awarded the contract in April, construction on the approximately 44-month project was expected to begin in June and be completed in 2014.