In a recent, unreported decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the dismissal by the Board of Claims (Board) of a late-filed contractor claim. Under the Board’s jurisdictional statute, 62 Pa. C.S. § 1712.1(e), a formal statement of claim must be filed with the Board, either within 15 days of the mailing date of a final determination denying a claim, or within 135 days of the filing of a claim, whichever occurs first. Read more
In a departure from the usual rule, but not surprising given the facts of the case, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently enforced a subcontractor’s claim for payment against a public owner.
In 2009, West Allegheny School District terminated Flaherty Mechanical Contractors, LLC, the prime contractor on a school alterations project, for failure to pay various subcontractors. After the termination, to prevent further delay, the school district asked F. Zacherl, Inc., the sheet metal subcontractor, to return to the project and complete the work remaining under its subcontract with Flaherty.
Zacherl orally agreed with school district, provided it was paid its then outstanding invoices. These invoices were paid, and Zacherl completed its work, but the school district made no further payments for either the work Zacherl had performed for Flaherty or the work Zacherl performed for the school district. Zacherl sued Flaherty’s surety and the school district for payment. The trial found in favor of Zacherl, with the surety liable for payment for Zacherl’s work for Flaherty, and the school district liable for Zacherl’s work for the school district. The school district appealed. Read more
According to recent audits conducted by the Pa. Department of the Auditor General, Pennsylvania school districts spent at least $53.7 million in excess of the state’s transportation reimbursement formula through the use of no-bid busing contracts.
The conclusion of the Auditor General was based on audits of about 450 of the state’s 500 public school districts. As a result, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called on the Pa. General Assembly to mandate competitive bidding for such transportation services, saying:
To get the best possible price and ensure transparency for taxpayers, student transportation contracts should be re-bid every time they are up for renewal. I’m calling on the General Assembly to enact legislation to ensure school districts are getting the best possible price by requiring them to seek competitive bids for transportation services. Amending the Public School Code to require schools to competitively bid transportation services will improve transparency and could put more money in our classrooms.
The Auditor General press release issued on May 12, 2016, can be found here. A PennLive story on the Auditor General’s findings can be found here.
On April 7, 2016, Pa. Governor Tom Wolf signed a new Executive Order establishing that future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania contracts must ensure that contractors doing business with the state will not discriminate in the award of subcontracts or supply contracts, or in hiring, promotion, or other labor matters, on the basis of sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. The Executive Order also mandates that contractors receiving state funds must have, as a condition of payment, a written sexual harassment policy and that employees of the contractor are aware of the policy. Read more
Under the Pa. Procurement Code, a protest must be filed within seven days after the protestant knew or should have known of the facts giving rise to the protest. If the protest is untimely, it will be rejected. Recently, in a published opinion and in a departure from the usual rule, the Commonwealth Court decided that equitable principles would allow a late-filed protest to be considered.
The case concerned Pa. Department of Transportation (PennDOT) inspection contracts on which Bureau Veritas (BV), the protestant, had submitted a statement of interest. PennDOT ranked BV fifth in its statement of rankings. BV learned of the rankings on November 13, 2014. Seven days later, on November 20, 2014, BV filed a protest, but the email of its protest was rejected by PennDOT’s computer server due to improper formatting of the file attachment. On November 21, 2014, BV learned of the email rejection and promptly re-sent the email with the proper formatting of the file attachment, eight days after the publication of the rankings. PennDOT rejected BV’s protest as untimely and on the merits. BV then argued that it should be allowed to file its protest nunc pro tunc (literally, “now for then”). PennDOT issued a final determination rejecting the protest, as well as the request that the protest be considered nunc pro tunc. BV appealed to the Commonwealth Court. Read more