Can Retainage Be Held Until Final Completion Of The Project?

On public projects, an owner typically withholds retainage of 10%. Can the owner hold this 10% retainage until final completion? The short answer is, No! Section 3921 of the PA Procurement Code mandates that, when the contract is 50% completed, retainage "shall Read more

Can A Public Owner Ever Seek Clarification Of Ambiguous Pricing?

Recently, a public owner solicited bids for a university construction project. The bid form sought pricing for base bid work and alternate work. One of the bidders included ambiguous pricing for an alternate item, in that the pricing was Read more

Debriefing After Non-Selection Does Not Toll 7-Day Deadline For Bid Protest

The Pa. Procurement Code sets a strict deadline for bid protests - the 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 Read more

Does Separations Act Prohibit Use Of Best Value Contracting For Construction Of Philadelphia Public Buildings?

Now that "best value" contracting is officially the new game in town for City of Philadelphia procurement, with the issuance of the new best value regulations, it's worth asking whether the longstanding Separations Act precludes the City from using best Read more

Does PA Steel Act Prohibit Public Owner From Specifying Foreign-Made Cast Iron Boiler?

The PA Steel Products Procurement Act requires that all steel products (including cast iron products) supplied on a Pennsylvania public works project must be made from U.S.-made steel. Recently, a school district's contract specified a cast iron boiler manufactured in Europe as the Read more

Philadelphia Voters Approve Best Value Contracting

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email

It’s official! Philadelphia voters have voted in favor of the best value ballot question. Read more

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email
Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in Best Value Contracting, City of Phila. Leave a comment

Committee of Seventy Throws Its Weight Behind City Of Philadelphia Best Value Initiative

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email

On Tuesday, May 16, Philadelphia voters will be asked to vote YES or NO to the following ballot question: “Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to allow for the award of certain contracts based on best value to the City?”

The ballot question is vague and confusing, and fails to inform voters that the City of Philadelphia now awards contracts on the basis of “lowest responsible bid,” a method that many believe already results in “best value” contracting for the City.

Nonetheless, the nonpartisan Committee of Seventy recently announced its support for the ballot question. The Committee of Seventy is not typically thought of as proficient on matters of public procurement, so it formed a task force comprised of Board members “with contracting experience in the public- and private-sector” to study the issue. Read more

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email
Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in Best Value Contracting, City of Phila. Leave a comment

Best Value Contracting Question On Philadelphia Primary Election Ballot

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email

Is “best value” the next, best thing in City of Philadelphia procurement? We will all know soon enough.  The best value initiative is on the official election ballot for the upcoming Philadelphia primary election.

On May 16, 2017, voters in Philadelphia will be asked to answer “yes” or “no” to the following question: “Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to allow for the award of certain contracts based on best value to the City?”

If passed by the voters, best value will certainly prove to be a momentous change for Philadelphia procurement, though it remains to be seen just how momentous. Only time will tell.

My original post and thinking on the best value initiative can be found here.

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email
Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in Best Value Contracting, City of Phila. Leave a comment

E-Verify, Revisited

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email

The Pennsylvania Public Works Employment Verification – Act 127 of 2012 but better known as E-verify – has now been the law in Pennsylvania for more than four years, since January 1, 2013.

E-verify requires that all public works contractors and subcontractors must utilize the federal government’s E-Verify system to ensure that all employees performing work on public works projects are authorized to work in the United States.

Prime contractors are cautioned that the Pa. Department of General Services continues to enforce the requirements of E-verify, as is evident from the formal notices posted on the DGS E-verify webpage.  For example, in 2016, more than 50 contractors received warning letters concerning violations of E-verify.

Prime contractors are also cautioned that they must inform their subcontractors of their duty to comply with E-verify.  If they do this, then prime contractors will not liable for a subcontractor’s failure to comply with E-verify.

DGS has also posted an FAQ for E-verify. This can be found here.  My original post on E-verify can be found here.

If you need assistance on an E-verify issue, call or email me for a no-cost consultation.  I’ll be happy to assist in anyway possible.

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email
Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in DGS, E-Verify Leave a comment

Public Works Payment 101: Final Payment

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email

Payment issues dominate the world of the public works contractor in Pennsylvania.  When must progress payments be made?  When can the government withhold payment? Is interest due on late payments? When is final payment due? How much retainage can be withheld and when must retainage be reduced and fully released?

Generally, payment obligations on public works contracts are set forth in Part II, Chapter 39, of the Pa. Procurement Code, 62 Pa.C.S. § 3901, et seq.  These provisions control the public owner’s payment obligations, as well as contractors’ obligations for payment to its subcontractors.

This post is the first in a planned series on the payment requirements for public works contracts in Pennsylvania.  Under the Commonwealth Procurement Code, 62 Pa.C.S. § 3941, the public owner’s obligations for final payment are strict.

When retainage is withheld, the public contract must require the architect or engineer to make final inspection within 30 days of receipt of the contractor’s request for final inspection and final payment. If the work is substantially completed, then

the architect or engineer shall issue a certificate of completion and a final certificate for payment, and the government agency shall make payment in full within 45 days except as provided in section 3921, less only one and one-half times the amount required to complete any then-remaining uncompleted minor items, which amount shall be certified by the architect or engineer and, upon receipt by the government agency of any guarantee bonds which may be required, in accordance with the contract, to insure proper workmanship for a designated period of time. [Emphasis added]

Under the terms of the section 3941, once the punch list items are completed, the public owner must make final payment of the amount that was withheld for completion of the punch list .

What does all of this mean in plain English?

Once “substantial completion” is achieved, (1) an inspection must be performed within 30 days after a contractor’s request, (2) the architect must issue a certificate of completion and for payment, (3) the architect must prepare a punch list and assign a value for the punch list items, and (4) payment, less one and a half times the punch list value, must be made to the contractor within 45 days.  Final payment must then be made once all of the punch list items are completed.

If you are public works contractor, it is imperative that you request a final inspection after substantial completion. This request triggers the final payment obligations of the public owner. This request also triggers the public owner’s obligation to release retainage. Contrary to popular practice, a public owner is not permitted to hold 5% retainage (or more) until the literal final completion of the work.

If you need assistance on a public works payment issue, call or email me for a no-cost consultation.  I’ll be happy to assist in anyway possible.

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email
Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in Procurement Code, Public Works Payment Rules Leave a comment