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

Disappointed Bidder Lacks Standing To Challenge P3 Contract Award By Non-Commonwealth Entity

In a recent case of first impression, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has affirmed a lower court ruling that a disappointed bidder lacked standing to challenge a contract awarded by a non-Commonwealth entity under the Public-Private Transportation Partnership Act (P3 Act). In Read more

City Of Allentown Permitted To Use RFP Process For Waste Services Contract

In a decision issued on July 20, 2017, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld the City of Allentown's use of the Request for Proposals (RFP) process in a contract award. In 2015, Allentown issued an RFP for the award of a Read more

Are RFQs Immune From Protest Under The Procurement Code?

If you respond to a Request for Quotes (RFQ) issued by a Commonwealth department or agency, can you protest if the resulting purchase order is awarded to another bidder? According to the Commonwealth's Office of Administration, the answer is no. Read more

Public Radio Show Interviews Me On City Of Philadelphia No-Bid Purchase Of Police Body Cameras

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email

Yesterday the public radio show, APM Marketplace, aired a business story from a local WHYY reporter, Bobby Allyn, where I was asked to comment on the City of Philadelphia’s recent, no-bid purchase of police body cameras from Taser International.

Here is an excerpt from the story:

Sitting in his office on the 31st floor of a building in Center City Philadelphia, attorney Chris McCabe read the wonky language of a memo prepared by city officials.

“Currently the city has no procurement vehicle for these specific goods and services, and a competitive bid for these services would be time prohibitive,” McCabe said, reading the memo.

It means that the city hasn’t opened up a formal bidding process for a $1.4 million body camera contract expanding a pilot program. Doing so, officials determined, would take too long. McCabe, who negotiated city contracts for more than a decade, said it was unusual, and that the bidding process was there so that contractors win not based on whom they know, but instead on who has the best price.

“You have to protect the taxpayer from fraud, corruption and favoritism, and that’s done through a publicly transparent competitive bidding process,” McCabe said.

You can read and listen to the entire Taser story here.

My earlier post on the City’s no-bid purchase of the police body cameras is here.

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

Pa. Steel Products Procurement Act, Revisited

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email

The Pa. Steel Products Procurement Act became law in 1978 with a stated purpose to protect the U.S. market for steel production and supply.

At its core, the Act provides that, if any steel products are to be used or supplied on a public works project in Pennsylvania, then only “steel products,” as that term is defined in the Act, can be used or supplied on the project.

The Act defines “steel products” as follows:

Products rolled, formed, shaped, drawn, extruded, forged, cast, fabricated or otherwise similarly processed, or processed by a combination of two or more of such operations, from steel made in the United States by the open hearth, basic oxygen, electric furnace, Bessemer or other steel making process and shall include cast iron products and shall include machinery and equipment listed in United States Department of Commerce Standard Industrial Classification 25 (furniture and fixture), 35 (machinery, except electrical) and 37 (transportation equipment) and made of, fabricated from, or containing steel components. If a product contains both foreign and United States steel, such product shall be determined to be a United States steel product only if at least 75% of the cost of the articles, materials and supplies have been mined, produced or manufactured, as the case may be, in the United States. Transportation equipment shall be determined to be a United States steel product if it complies with section 165 of Public Law 97-424 (96 Stat. 2136).

So, what does this mean?

Read more

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email
Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in Steel Products Act Leave a comment

The U.S. DOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email

I have posted on numerous occasions about the U.S. Department of Transportation’s disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) program.  The DBE program is especially relevant to public contractors and subcontractors performing work for PennDOT, SEPTA, the Philadelphia International Airport, the Philadelphia Streets Department, the Port Authority of Allegheny County, and other public entities in Pennsylvania that are managing projects funded with federal transportation dollars.

In this post, I’ll provide some limited background information and links about the DBE program and how the program operates and what rules and regulations apply.

Read more

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email
Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in DBE/MBE/WBE Leave a comment

DBE Pass-Through Scheme Alleged On PennDOT Platt Bridge Project In Phila.

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email

According to a criminal information filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, still another fraud scheme involving the U.S. Department of Transportation’s disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) Program has been uncovered, this time on the federally-funded George C. Platt Memorial Bridge project in Philadelphia.

In April 2011, PennDOT awarded a $42.7M contract to perform structural steel painting and repairs on the Platt Bridge to a joint venture consisting of Hercules Painting Company, Inc., of New Castle, Pa., and Vimas Painting Company, Inc., of Lowellville, Ohio.  During the bid process, the Hercules-Vimas JV allegedly committed to subcontract $3.1M in DBE work to Vertech International, Inc., to supply paint materials for the project.  Instead, the Hercules-Vimas JV allegedly negotiated contracts and ordered materials for the Platt Bridge project directly with non-DBE suppliers, with Vertech allegedly acting as a pass-through to give the appearance that DBE requirements had been satisfied.  PennDOT awarded approximately $1.97M in DBE credit to the Hercules-Vimas JV.  Vertech was allegedly paid 1.75% of the face value of the invoices it processed to act as a pass-through.

Read more

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email
Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in DBE/MBE/WBE, PennDOT Leave a comment

Can The City Of Phila. Purchase Police Body Cameras Under An Existing Contract For Tasers?

Linkedin Facebook Twitter Plusone Email

Can a public entity add-on to an existing contract in order to satisfy a need for a new and different service, supply or equipment?

On March 7, WHYY’s Newsworks reported that that is precisely what the City of Philadelphia plans to do under an existing stun gun contract with Taser International.  According to the Newsworks report, the City intends to spend more than $200,000 under the Taser contract to purchase police body cameras:

City records show that Philadelphia’s Police Department has a $705,361 contract with Taser that is expected to cover hundreds more cameras, the cost of evidence storage and equipment upgrades. It will also pay for stun guns.

Officials confirm, $210,000 of that will pay for hundreds of new body cameras.

Philadelphia had an existing contract with Taser for the stun guns, so it was easy to piggyback on that for the body cameras.

The City’s intent to spend more than $200,000 to purchase police body cameras under the Taser contract, without open, competitive bidding, may violate the public bidding rules set forth in Article VIII, Chapter 2, of the Phila. Home Rule Charter.  When it comes to the purchase of generic items, like body cameras, the bedrock rule for City contracting is sealed, competitive bidding, duly advertised, with the contract being awarded to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder.

Read more

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