Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Will California Require Holocaust Certification on Bids?

The California Senate recently approved legislation (which must still be reconciled with the Assembly approved bill) that would require firms bidding on California's upcoming $45 billion high-speed rail project to certify, prior to submission of a bid, whether the firm "had any direct involvement in the deportation of any individuals to extermination camps, work camps, concentration camps, prisoner of war camps, or any similar camps during the period from January 1, 1942 through December 31, 1944."

Records and Remedial Actions:  Assembly Bill (AB) 619 would require firms who affirmatively certify such a role to state whether they have any records related to the deportations and whether they have taken any remedial actions concerning the deportations.  Firms, at their option, could provide an explanation of any mitigating circumstances relating to their involvement in the deportations. 

Bidder Disqualification Provision Deleted:  As originally drafted AB 619, before it was amended in the Senate, would have also authorized the High-Speed Rail Authority to disqualify any firm with involvement in such deportations if the firm's certifications raised "significant concerns about that entity's corporate character and responsibility."  This provision would have amounted to a bidder responsibility criterion, and was aimed primarily at the French government owned firm SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais).  According to the bill analysis, SNCF "transported 75,000 Jews from France east to concentration camps."

Other Deleted Provisions:  The original bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, before being amended in the Senate, would have also provided the following:
  • Authorized the second or third low bidder to sue the low bidder for making a false certification
  • Subjected the firm making a false certification to a civil penalty of $250,000 or twice the amount of the contract for which the bid was submitted
  • Authorized the High-Speed Rail Authority to debar a firm making a false certification for three years.

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