Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How Should Labor Costs Be Calculated on a Change Order?

When a change order occur on public works construction project, how should the hourly costs associated with the labor element of the change order be calculated?

Calculating Hourly Labor Rates:  There are a couple of different methods:

Bid Item:  If the body of work included in the change order was a bid item in the original bid for the project, the bid item price (which may include labor and other costs), may be used to calculate the amount of the change order.

Unit Prices:  If the original bid included unit prices for labor rates for future change order work, these may be used as the basis of negotiating and calculating the labor amount for the change order.

Prevailing Wages:  The contracts or General Conditions of some agencies include language addressing the relationship of prevailing wages with the labor rate paid on change orders.  The hourly rate should not be artificially limited to just the prevailing wage rate, which may not account for the fact that a contractor may pay more than the prevailing wage rate in order to retain qualified workers, or that the contractor may be required to pay more than the prevailing wage rate based on the terms of a union collective bargaining agreement.  Besides the hourly rate actually paid to workers, the hourly labor cost typically includes other costs such as for workers compensation, federal and state taxes, and other amounts.
  • State of Washington's Approach:  The State of Washington's General Conditions addresses this issue in a manner that initially pegs the labor rate to the rate the contractor includes on the "statement of intent to pay prevailing wage" document filed with the Department of Labor and Industries.  On this form, the contractor notes the hourly rate they intend to pay to workers in specific classifications, which may be higher than the prevailing wage rate.  The language further goes on to permit the Owner to pay more than the amount noted on the form.  Here's the language from the State's General Conditions:
"The hourly costs shall be based on the following...Hourly rates and benefits as stated on the Department of Labor and Industries approved "statement of intent to pay prevailing wages" or a higher amount if approved by the Owner."
Balancing Public and Private Interests:  There are a couple of keys in negotiating labor rates on a change order.  The hourly labor rate must:
  1. Protect the public's interests by not being higher than what the contractor normally pays on an hourly basis for certain classifications of labor.
  2. Fairly compensate the contractor for actual costs.  A contractor should not be required to work at less than their actual costs on change orders.
Check Your Contract Language:  How does your standard public works contract address calculation and negotiation of labor rates for change orders?  Work with your attorneys and policy makers to craft language that helps ensure that the public's interests are protected and is fair to contractors.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

South Carolina City Considers Bid Preference Law

Following a trend across the country, the Conway (SC) City Council voted to approve a law  on September 26, 2011 that would give a preference to businesses located within the city limits.  

Bid Matching:  If approved by the Council on the second reading, a local business would be allowed the opportunity to match the low bid of a business from outside the city limits if the in-City business was within 5% of the low bid.

Location Defined:  To take advantage of the bid matching option, a business would need to have "a physical presence of an office, facility or locally-owned franchise located within the legal boundaries of the City of Conway."

More Information:  For more information about bid preferences, refer to the following resources:
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bonding Education Program for Contractors

One of the major historical concerns of small, minority, and women owned contractors trying to break into public works contracting is the difficulty of obtaining the required payment and performance bonds. 

To address this issue, the federal government and private industry have teamed up to offer a six week workshop for small contractors in the Seattle area.

The workshop will help small businesses take the necessary steps to become "bond-ready" for construction projects.  While the target audience is small and emerging contractors in the transportation field, it is open to all contractors.

Class Schedule: 6 week workshop from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on the following dates:
  • October 13, 2011 - Bonding Education Program Kick-Off and Orientation
  • October 19, 2011 - Business Planning and Management for Construction
  • October 26, 2011 - Banking and Financing for Construction; Project Management and Field Operations
  • November 2, 2011 - Bonding and Insurance for New and Emerging Contractors; Claims and Dispute Resolution
  • November 9, 2011 - Marketing, Estimating and Bidding; Construction Accounting and Financial Management
  • November 16, 2011 - Closing
Sponsored by:
Cost:  Free

Where:   Shoreline, Washington (WSDOT Office, 15700 Dayton Avenue North)

Registration:   Click here.  Space is limited.  Dinner will be provided.

Questions:  Contact Lily Keeffe at (425) 248-4222 or by e-mail at
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Contractor Pleads Guilty to Forging Payment and Performance Bonds

Peter Scott
A California contractor pleaded guilty in court on September 20, 2011 to submitting forged payment and performance bonds to the City of Sacramento for two projects totaling $3.4 million.

City Discovered Bonds Were Fake After Award:  Advantage Demolition and Engineering (ADE) won two federally funded projects with the City of Sacramento in late 2009 to install 3,300 water meters.  In January, 2010 the City became concerned about ADE's work on the project, discovered the bonds were forgeries, and issued a stop work order and eventually terminated the contracts.   Peter Scott, the president of ADE, admitted to forging the bonds.

Bond Forgery Details:  After more closely examining the payment and performance bonds submitted by ADE, officials noted the following signs that the bonds were forged:
  • The bonds were issued on a bond form 2006 that was not used by the surety (Merchants Bonding Company) in 2009.  
  • The bond number on the bond was not legitimate.
  • There was a stamp, but no signature of a Notary Public.
  • The date on the Notary Public's signature line was incorrect.
  • The attorney-in-fact who signed the bonds for the surety was a fictitious person.
  • The phone number for the attorney-in-fact was a cell phone number that ADE set up and represented as the phone number for the attorney-in-fact.
Prison and Fines:  Scott will be sentenced on December 13, 2011.  According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Scott "faces a maximum statutory penalty for each violation of five years in prison, a $250,000 [fine], and three years of supervised release."

More Information:  For more information about this story, see the following links:
In my blog posting of June 12, 2011, I wrote about a New Jersey contractor who forged payment and performance bonds.  That contractor is currently serving a four year prison term.

Practical Tips:  While bond forgeries are relatively rare, there may be more risk of them with the troubled economy and the difficulty of many contractors in obtaining bonds.  
  1. Review the bonds and power of attorney document carefully to ensure there are no irregularities or inconsistencies.
  2. Do you know the reputation and financial stability of the contractor?  If not, consider calling the bonding company to verify the legitimacy of the bonds.
  3. Call the actual bonding company, not the attorney-in-fact who signed the bond, to verify the bond. 
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Read the Terms of Your Grant Agreements

If your public agency receives federal grant funds for projects, make sure you carefully read the terms of the grant agreements.  

State Pass-Through Money:  Some state grant funds also include federal requirements, as states often receive funding from the federal government and then award grants from those funds to local agencies.

Common Grant Requirements:  The following are a few of the common federal grant requirements to be aware of:

Debarment:  It's surprising how often public agencies fail to check the federal government's database of firms that are suspended or debarred from doing business with the federal government.  It's a requirement for public agencies to check the EPLS system (and maintain documentation in the contract file) to ensure that a contractor, consultant, or vendor who is paid more than $25,000 is not on the list.
  • Audit Findings:  The Washington State Auditor's Office recently issued audit findings against the Snohomish County Health District for failure to check the federal debarment database.  The District spent almost a half million dollars with four vendors for an H1N1 flue vaccination program.  According to the audit, the District failed to check the debarment status of these vendors. In addition, the auditor issued a finding against Skagit County for failure to check federal debarment.  Both agencies indicated in the audit findings that they were unaware of the federal requirement.
Prevailing Wages:  Most federal funding sources require the public agency to ensure that workers employed on a public works construction project are paid at least the federal prevailing wage rate for the type of work performed.  Language must be included in the bidding and contract documents describing this requirement, and that (for most federal funding sources), the contractor and subcontractors are required to pay the highest prevailing wage rate when comparing federal and state prevailing wages for a given classification of labor.

Standard Clauses:  Federal funding grants usually require a public agency to include various clauses in both the bidding and contract documents.  These clauses require the contractor, consultant, or vendor to comply with various federal laws and regulations, and often impose requirements on the public agency to monitor and enforce compliance.

Consequences for Non-Compliance:  The following are some of the potential consequences if a public agency receiving federal funding fails to comply with the terms of a grant agreement:
  • Pay the Money Back to the Feds:  Payments made to a business that is suspended or debarred from doing business with the federal government are unallowable.  The federal funding agency may require that these funds be paid back to the federal government.
  • Loss of Future Federal Funding:  Future funding grants may be at risk if a public agency has a record or history of non-compliance with the terms of federal grants.
  • Audit Findings:  Audit findings from either a federal, state, or local auditor may be issued if a public agency does not comply with the terms of grant agreements. 
  • Payment of Prevailing Wages:  If a public agency fails to notify bidders that a construction project is subject to federal Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements, the public agency may be found liable for paying back wages due to any construction workers on the project who were not paid the correct prevailing wage rates.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Managing Misplaced Bids

It was another routine bid opening.  The public agency opened and read in public the 8 bids it received.  An apparent low bidder was identified.  The bidders present went their way, one of them quite satisfied, and the others hoping for a better outcome next time.

Misplaced Bids:  And then, an hour later, staff from the public agency discovered two additional bids that had also been received and time stamped in prior to the bid submittal deadline, but that, for some reason hadn't made it to the bid opening room.  They had been misplaced.

Unfortunately, this is an all too common experience that I hear about from various public agencies.  How should the situation be handled? 

Strategies:  Here are a couple of thoughts to help you develop a strategy, in consultation with your attorney:
  • Laws and Requirements:  Is there a state or local law or regulations that requires the public agency to open the bids on the date and time specified in the bidding documents?  We know that if there is such a requirement for opening and reading the bids on the date and time specified, it is there to promote the confidence in the contracting community into the integrity and transparency of the bidding process.
  • Should the Public Suffer?  Even if there is a requirement for opening the bids on the date and time specified, consider whether an otherwise low bidder should be penalized because of an administrative snafu within the public agency.  And perhaps more importantly, consider whether the public should be forced to pay a higher price for the work because of such an error in handling the bids. 
  • Contact the Bidders:  Before opening the misplaced bids, consider contacting the bidders who submitted the misplaced bids and ask them if their bid price would be lower than the previously identified low bid.  If their bid price would not be low, open their bids and record the amounts on the revised bid tabulation with a note explaining why it is being revised.
  • Public Bid Opening:  If their bid price would be low, consider contacting all the bidders in writing, explaining the situation, and notifying them that you intend to publicly open the remaining two bids at a date, time, and place specified.  This helps make the process the most transparent for all of the bidders.
Do You Know Where Your Bids Are?  Establish clear procedures within your agency to ensure that this type of situation doesn't occur.  Know who is responsible for managing received bids and where they are safely stored.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Volunteers Exempt from Prevailing Wages on California Public Works Projects

The State of California recently extended a prevailing wage exemption for volunteers working on public works projects until January 1, 2017.

Prior to the passages of Assembly Bill No. 587 and its signature by California Governor Jerry Brown on September 6, 2011, the prevailing wage exemption for volunteers was slated to expire on January 1, 2012.

The legislation defines what conditions must be met for an individual to be considered a volunteer.

State of Washington:  I recently wrote a couple of blogs about the use of volunteer labor of public works projects in Washington state:
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Monday, September 19, 2011

Survey Results: Consultant Selection Practices of Public Agencies

I recently conducted an online survey of public agencies across the nation on some of their consultant selection practices.  The survey was open from August 18, 2011 and August 26, 2011.  During that time, there were a total of 61 responses from 47 public agencies in nine states plus the District of Columbia and Canada.

Summary of Results:  While practices varied by agency as reflected in the answers, most agencies have evaluation committee members read and rate proposals prior to the evaluation committee actually meeting.  At the evaluation committee meeting, the members discuss their scores and reasoning, and based on those consensus developing conversations, individuals may modify their scores.  These modified scores are then rolled up into a committee total reflecting the basis of selection.  Most agencies keep the scores and comments of the evaluators and committee as a matter of public record, only disclosing the information after an award has been made.  The names of the evaluators are typically included on the score sheets and then subject to disclosure upon request.

Survey Results:  The following are the results from the survey's nine questions:

1.  Evaluation Committees: Do your agency's evaluation committees meet in person as a group?
  • 89% - Yes
  • 3%  -  No
  • 8%  -  Sometimes
2.  When Are Proposals Scored:  When do members of of the evaluation committee assign their scores to proposals?
  • 57% - Before the committee meeting
  • 36% - At the committee meeting for the first time
  • 7%  -  Other
3.  Purpose of Evaluation Committee Meeting:  What is the purpose of the evaluation committee meeting together as a group?
  • 68% - Develop consensus scores for each criterion based on average of individual committee member scores that were rated before the committee meeting, and possibly modified during the meeting.
  • 10% - Develop one committee score for each firm, but not developed from average of scores from individual committee members.
  • 5%  -  Develop overall group consensus on top rated firm(s) without using or documenting any scores, but based on what firms seem to be best for the agency.
  • 2%  -  The evaluation committee does not ever meet as a group, but relies on individual scores to determine highest ranked firm.
  • 2%  -  Develop overall group consensus (no score) for selection where individual committee members have not rated proposals prior to the meeting.
  • 10% - Other
4.  Basis of Consensus Scores:  If the evaluation committee develops consensus scores, what is it based on?
  • 64% - Each evaluation committee member developing or modifying their score based on the conversation of the committee and rolling those numbers into a consensus score.
  • 19% - We don't develop consensus scores.
  • 14% - One group consensus score for each firm.
  • 5%  -  Other
5.  Scores as a Matter of Public Record:  What does your agency do with scores and written comments from evaluation committee members (including those developed before and during the evaluation committee meetings)?
  • 73% - We keep the scores and comments as part of the public record.
  • 6%  -  We keep the scores and comments as part of the public records, but mark them as draft documents.
  • 5%  -  Individual committee members don't write down scores and comments since it's all developed in the actual committee meeting.
  • 3%  -  We shred the scores and comments.
  • 11% - Other
6.  Disclosing Individual Scores:  When does your agency release written comments and scores of individual committee members to the public?
  • 29% - Only after award is made.
  • 26% - Only after the contract is executed.
  • 21% - Anytime, upon request.
  • 10% - We never release these documents to the public.
  • 7%   - We don't have individual scores from committee members.
  • 2%   -  Before the contract is executed.
  • 0%   -  Before an award is made.
  • 0%   -  We shred the scores and comments
  • 5%   -  Other
7.  Disclosing Committee Scores:  When does your agency release the selection record from the full evaluation committee?
  • 39% - Only after award is made.
  • 26% - Only after the contract is executed.
  • 15% - Anytime, upon request.
  • 10% - Before an award is made.
  • 3%   - Before the contract is executed
  • 0%   - We never release these documents to the public.
  • 0%   - We shred these documents and thus never release them to the public.
  • 7%   - Other
8.  Inappropriate Written Comments:  How does your agency handle comments on an individual evaluator's score sheet that includes inappropriate comments about a firm?
  • 48% - We don't have a problem with evaluators writing down inappropriate comments.
  • 22% - We let the record speak for itself and don't take any action.
  • 15% - Our score sheets don't include a place for comments.
  • 12% - We ask the individual to change the comments to be more appropriate and professional.
  • 3%  -  We shred all score sheets of individual evaluators so this isn't a problem for us.
9.  Disclosing Evaluator Names:  How does your agency handle the disclosure of the names of evaluation committee members?
  • 40% - Disclose these names on the score sheets.
  • 23% - Disclose these names anytime upon request.
  • 23% - Never disclose these names.  We use letters or numbers on the score sheets to designate the names of the evaluators.
  • 0%  -  Disclose these names in the RFP or RFQ.
  • 13% - Other
Note:  Percentages don't always add up to 100% due to rounding.  Not all respondents answered all questions.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Training: Purchasing, Bidding, and Contract Management for Local Agencies

When:  September 21-22, 2011 (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Where:  Ellensburg, Washington (Central Washington University, Mary Grupe Center)

Cost:  $100

Subjects to be Covered:
  • Purchasing Materials, Supplies, and Equipment
  • Contracting for Services
  • Public Works Contracting
Information and Registration:  Click here.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Webinar: Contracting for Architectural and Engineering Services

For those of you who missed the free webinar on August 30, 2011 sponsored by the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) of Washington, you can now listen to and watch a streaming version of the 90 minute webinar online.

Webinar Panelists:
Webinar Questions:  The panelists in the webinar took turns answering the following five questions:
  1. Do you feel that Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) for A/E consultants is a good business practice?
  2. What professional disciplines does QBS selection apply to, and should it be used for some non-A/E contracts?
  3. What are the advance notification provisions of Chapter 39.80 RCW, and how have they been applied correctly and incorrectly?
  4. Do you feel that agencies select directly from their A/E consultant rosters more frequently than they should?
  5. What are some best practices for agencies to follow in their requests for qualifications, requests for proposals, interviews, and contract negotiations?
View the Webinar:  Visit MRSC's website to view (or download) the webinar:

Attendance:  There were 94 internet connections of attendees to the webinar, some which had more than one person participating.  Here's the breakdown of who the attendees work for:
  • City/Town: 51%
  • County: 16%
  • Special Purpose District: 15%
  • State: 6%
  • Private Sector: 12%
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

5 Job Openings in Procurement-Contracting

Here are the details of five current procurement and contracting job openings in the State of Washington:

Intercity Transit
  • Position: Procurement Coordinator
  • Location: Olympia, Washington
  • Closing Date:  Friday, September 30, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.
  • Salary: $55,661 to $75,150 annually
  • Job Summary:  The Procurement Coordinator will perform professional level procurement and special project work for programs, including serving as a program liaison, coordinating complex acquisitions of products, services and construction, and providing recommendations for program direction.

WSDOT (Washington State Dept. of Transportation)
  • Position: Senior Contracts Supervisor - Contracts Specialist 3
  • Location: Lacey, Washington
  • Closing Date:  Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Salary: $47,892 to $62,796 annually
  • Job Summary:  The position is responsible for contracting actions involving tolling systems, public works, Information Technology (IT) systems development and integration, and personal services to obtain competitively priced products and services while protecting the interests of the department and taxpayers.

WSDOT (Washington State Dept. of Transportation)
  • Position: Contracts Specialist 2 (2 positions)
  • Location: Lacey, Washington
  • Closing Date:  Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Salary: $41,316 to $54,156 annually
  • Job Summary: These positions will perform professional contract administration and be responsible for negotiating and preparing complex personal services and public works contracts consistent with RCW 39.29, 39.04, and 43.105, the WSDOT Strategic Plan, and legislative direction.  These positions will be specifically responsible for contracting actions involving public works, Information Technology (IT) systems development and integration, and personal services to obtain competitively priced products and services while protecting the interests of the department and taxpayers.

Bellevue College
  • Position: Acquisition Specialist
  • Location: Bellevue, Washington
  • Closing Date:  Continuous
  • Salary: $36,756 to $48,168 annually
  • Job Summary:  The Acquisition Specialist performs the first level of professional contract administration work with responsibility in the administration of routine contracts, interagency agreements, leases and letters of understanding to provide or obtain services or goods for the agency.

    Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
    © 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Massachusetts Launches Online Bid Protest Database

    The State of Massachusetts recently took the unusual step of posting the results of its public bid protests in a searchable online database. 

    Martha Coakley
    Decisions Back to 2003:  In an effort to provide greater transparency into the public contracting process, Attorney General Martha Coakley recently unveiled a new section of the AG's web site - The Bid Protest Decision Lookup - which provides an online interface to browse the AG's bid protest decisions going back to 2003 (with efforts under way to make decisions available back through 1989). 

    The Role of Bid Protests:  In describing the vital role of bid protests in ensuring a fair and equitable public bidding process, AG Coakley pointed out, 
    "Our bid decisions provide guidance to state agencies, cities and towns, and contractors regarding the public construction bidding laws and provide insight to citizens into the ways in which their tax dollars are both spent and safeguarded."
    Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
    © 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Should Agencies Send Non-Responsive Letters to Bidders Not Under Consideration for Award?

    What should a public agency do with a non-responsive bid when the bidder is not the low bidder?  Should the agency send the bidder a letter informing them they submitted a non-responsive bid or remain silent?

    Send the Letter:  While there are clearly arguments on both sides of the question, I would suggest that it is better to send the bidder a letter informing them that their bid is non-responsive.  Here are the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach:

    Disadvantages of Sending a Non-Responsive Letter
    • It Takes Time:  Writing a letter describing the reasons why a bid has been declared non-responsive takes time, something in short supply, especially as many public agencies are faced with significant cuts in staffing.  Some argue that if the bidder has no chance of being awarded the project, it's a better use of time for public employees to not take the time to craft such a letter.
    • The Risk of a Protest:  By highlighting a non-responsive bid through a letter declaring a firm non-responsive, a public agency does pick up limited risk that the bidder might choose to file a protest, even though their bid is not low.  Protests take time for public agencies and may delay award of a project.
    Advantages of Sending a Non-Responsive Letter
    • Transparency:  One of the fundamental concepts of public contracting is that the process should be transparent and open, with all facts disclosed to all parties.  This has the impact of increasing the public's confidence in the process.  Sending a non-responsive letter to a bidder, even one not under consideration for award, helps increase the transparency of the process.
    • Education:  Perhaps the most important reason why a public agency should send a non-responsive letter to a bidder, even one not under consideration for award, is that it helps to educate that bidder what they did wrong.  While they weren't the low bidder on this project, if they bid on another project where they submit the low bid, but are not aware of the irregularity in their bid, they may make the same mistake on future projects.  That may result in protracted disputes and challenges to the bidding process.  By addressing the non-responsive issue now when the stakes are low, a public agency helps ensure an educated bidder pool so that future projects don't have as many non-responsiveness issues arise.
    Bottom Line:  Take the time to send the non-responsive letter to the bidder, educating them why their bid is non-responsive.  It will help the next time they bid a project not to make the same mistake, increasing their confidence in the public bidding process.
    Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
    © 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

    Annual Design-Build Conferences Slated for April 2012 in Phoenix

    Design-Build is authorized in an increasing number of states as an alternative to the traditional Design-Bid-Build, or low bid method of public works contracting. 

    Differences by State:  Click here for a comparison chart from the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) describing the Design-Build laws in all of the states.  In Washington State, Design-Build is governed by RCW 39.10.

    Annual Conference:  DBIA will hold their 2012 Conference and Expo in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Conference and Expo for Water/Wastewater will be held from April 23 - 25, 2012, and the Conference and Expo for Transportation will follow immediately after from April 25 - 27, 2012.

    Registration will open sometime in the fall.
    Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
    © 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Feds Investigating Chicago Minority Business Fraud

    The United States Attorney's office has issued a subpoena for the City of Chicago to turn over files related to a construction company formerly owned by and certified as a minority business. 

    Minority Firm Paid $26 Million:  The company, City Construction Company has been paid at least $26 million over the last ten years, and received much of the work through Chicago's minority business set-aside program. Official records indicate ownership of City Construction Company has changed over the years, and the firm lost its certification as a minority business in 2009.

    Chicago's Program a Target of Criticism:  The City's minority program has been subject to criticism that many of the minority and women owned businesses were actually owned by white men, a practice known as setting up a "front company."

    No Additional Details:  The subpoena was issued to the City a year ago, but thus far there are no specific details available of what those records might show, or whether City Construction Company was operating as a front company or not.

    More Information:  For more information, click here to read a September 2, 2011 article from the New York Times.
    Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
    © 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

    Job Transitions

    Susan White:  After almost 26 years with the City of Seattle, Susan White will retire this month from her position as Supervising Contract Analyst. During her tenure with the city, she dealt with a variety of issues and programs related to public works and consultant contracting.

    Maija Lampinen
    Maija Lampinen:  The Port of Everett (Washington) has hired Maija Lampinen as its new Procurement and Contract Administrator.  Maija, who began the new position on September 6, 2011, was previously the Assistant Supervisor of Purchasing at the Snohomish School District where she worked for almost 20 years.  She replaces Charlotte Walther who left to take a position in San Antonio, Texas with the state Department of Transportation.
    Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
    © 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Who May Have Contact with Bidders During the Bidding Period?

    The Kansas City (Missouri) School District is experiencing internal school board conflict and the resignation of its superintendent, triggered at least in part over potentially improper communication between the school board president and a contractor bidding on an $86 million public works project. 

    Bidder Contacts School Board President:  The Cornerstone Project is a federally funded ESCO project designed to improve energy efficiency of district buildings.  The trouble began when a bidder contacted School Board President Airick West about the project.  The bidding documents prohibited contact with school board members, and presumably with anyone other than a single point of contact with the District's administration.  There are indications that West wanted to use the information to convince the District's administration to change the bidding process.

    Public Records Request Filed:  When Superintendent John Covington learned of the improper contact with a bidder, he asked West for the name of the contractor in order to disqualify the contractor from bidding.  When West refused to provide the name of the contractor, Covington filed a public records request for all e-mails between West and the contractor, including those sent from West's personal e-mail account that was used to conduct official District business.  Covington also decided to rebid the project.

    Resignations:  At a board meeting on August 24, 2011, Covington submitted his surprise resignation to the board, although there appear to be other unspecified issues that contributed to his action.  Board member Arthur Benson also resigned at the same meeting.  Later, the board refused to accept Covington's resignation.

    Practical Tips:
    • Single Point of Contact:  The conflict illustrates the need for clearly delineated lines of communication with bidders to avoid actual or perceived improprieties. Public agencies should establish a single point of contact for bidders with the agency.  This helps ensure that all bidders receive the same information from the agency, and helps prevent the appearance of some bidders receiving preferential treatment or inside information.
    • Addenda:  Even with a single point of contact, it is important to have language in bidding documents reminding bidders that only formal addenda issued by the agency change the bidding documents.
    • Public Records:  While public records laws vary across the nation, information included on a personal computer or personal e-mail account of a public employee may be subject to public disclosure if the employee used these resources in conducting official government business.  Public employees should think carefully about what they write in e-mails, which can later be subject to public disclosure.
    Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
    © 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

    Annual "Lean Construction Institute" Congress to Meet in October

    The 13th Annual Lean Construction Institute Congress will feature national and international owners, designers, contractors, and suppliers describing what they have experienced and learned in adopting Lean Construction.

    When:  October 4-7, 2011

    Where:  Pasadena, California (Westin Pasadena, 191 N. Los Robles Avenue)

    More Information:  Click here.

    Registration:    Click here.
    Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
    © 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Seattle Attorney Launches Design-Build Blog

    Robynne Parkinson
    Seattle attorney Robynne Thaxton Parkinson, a local and national expert on Design-Build, has launched a very helpful and informative new blog on Design-Build issues.

    Robynne's Background:  Robynne is a member of the National Board of Directors for the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) and is a past president of the Northwest Region of DBIA.  She also serves on DBIA's task force to revise its contract documents.  She teaches on Design-Build Contracts and Risk Management and is an engaging and informative speaker.

    Design-Build Blog:  Robynne's Design-Build blog can be found at  You can sign up for a free e-mail subscription to the blog.

    More About Robynne:  You can find out more about Robynne at the website of Law Offices of Robynne Thaxton Parkinson PLLC.
    Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
    © 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

    Update Meeting on Sound Transit's Construction Program

    Update Meeting on Sound Transit's Construction Program

    When:  Thursday, September 15, 2011 (5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)

    Where:  Rock Salt Restaurant (1232 Westlake Ave. North, Seattle, WA)

    Cost:  $45.00

    • Don Davis, Deputy Executive Director for Project Management and Construction Management at Sound Transit
    More Information and Registration:  Click here.
    Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
    © 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC