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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in City of Phila., General Leave a comment

City Of Phila. Seeks To Implement Reverse Auction Bidding

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The City of Philadelphia has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to implement a reverse auction bidding procedure for the purchase of certain supplies, equipment, services, and concessions in lieu of ordinary, sealed paper bids.

In a reverse auction bidding, sellers compete with each other, in a dynamic, real time environment, until the lowest price is reached, thereby accruing to the buyer – here the City of Phila. – potential savings that might otherwise not be achieved with traditional, one-time paper bid submissions.

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in City of Phila., Electronic Bidding Leave a comment

DBE Pass-Through Scheme Alleged On Two PennDOT Bridge Projects In Phila.

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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 on two different federally-funded projects in Philadelphia.

In September 2009, PennDOT awarded a $70.3M contract to a tri-venture consisting of a Philadelphia-based highway contractor, Alpha Painting & Construction Co., Inc., of Baltimore, and Liberty Maintenance, Inc., of Campbell, Ohio, to perform structural steel painting and repairs, and concrete repairs, on the I-95 Girard Point Bridge in Philadelphia. As part of the contract, the tri-venture committed to subcontract $4.7M of work to Markias, a now-defunct certified DBE, to supply materials for use on the the contract.  Alpha and Liberty formed a joint venture and allegedly ordered the needed materials directly from non-DBE suppliers, and allegedly used Markias as a pass-through to give the appearance that the DBE requirements had been satisfied.  PennDOT awarded approximately $3.26M in DBE credit to the tri-venture based on the DBE work allegedly performed by Markias.

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in DBE/MBE/WBE, PennDOT Leave a comment