Roofing Bids Open Old Wounds

County Strays from Policies

WINNSBORO – Of the many criticisms of County Council to emerge in the wake of last year’s collapse of a retaining wall around the Drawdy Park football field was the one that appeared at the time to have been addressed even before the concrete blocks toppled over – how the County bid out contracts for projects.

Revealed in the aftermath of the collapse was the County’s practice under former Administrator Phil Hinely of cherry picking construction and engineering firms from a pre-approved list, without putting major projects out for competitive, sealed bids. That practice netted S2 Engineering more than $8.76 million in contracts between December 2009 and September 2013, including the contract for the work at Drawdy Park.

Since Hinely’s resignation in July of 2013 and with the arrival of Milton Pope as Interim Administrator shortly thereafter, the County has consistently maintained that the no-bid days were over. As former Council Chairman David Ferguson told The Voice last July: “Did we bid out every job? No. With Milton (Pope) we do.”

But a contract awarded unanimously by Council on March 23 indicates that the old days may not be in the rear-view mirror entirely.

Detention Center

The Fairfield County Detention Center, constructed in approximately 1998, is in need of a new roof. Leaks have developed, causing water intrusion into the facility and threatening sensitive equipment inside. During a March 9 meeting of Council’s Administration and Finance Committee, Pope recommended Goodwyn Mills & Cawood (GMC), one of three firms he said bid on assessing the damage to the roof. The actual replacement of the roof will not take place until the next fiscal year, Pope said during the meeting.

Pope told the Committee that GMC will “provide for the analysis and construction administration of the Detention Center roof.” Only GMC’s winning bid was included in the information presented to Council members at the Committee meeting. Pope later said “staff should have included all three of the quotes in the A&F packet at the beginning.”

The only question from the Committee came from Councilman Marion Robinson, who unseated Ferguson for the District 5 seat last November. Robinson asked Pope how many firms had bid on the project and why administration had decided on GMC.

“All of (the three bidding firms) were qualified. We liked (GMC) a little bit better on how they had laid out what they would do, and their pricing on the assessment was less, or in the middle,” Pope responded. “Some of the other companies, the County has done a considerable amount of work with and we’re looking to involve and get some new people.”

Pope also said the roof assessment was in the 2014-2015 budget for up to $35,000. The Committee unanimously approved the recommendation, which Pope presented to the full Council on March 23. During his presentation, however, Pope told the Council that the project was for $35,000, although Chairwoman Carolyn Robinson corrected him just before the vote to include the “up to” caveat.

The Bids and the Manual

Contrary to the assertions made by the former Chairman last summer and repeated by administration since then, the roof project was not put out for a competitive sealed bid. Instead, between Jan. 2 and Jan. 16, administration made contact via phone or email with three firms Pope said were on the County’s pre-approved list of bidders. Those included Davis & Floyd, Inc.; Mead & Hunt, Inc. and Goodwyn Mills & Cawood. And that much may in fact be in line with the County’s procurement manual, revised last July.

According to page 28 of the manual, under the header “Bidders List,” the County may compile and maintain a list of “businesses that may be interested in competing for various types of County contracts. It is the responsibility of the supplier to ensure he is on a current bid list . . .”

Awards of bids, according to page 34 of the manual, include 10 factors in addition to “lowest responsible and responsive bid,” none of which entail ‘involving and getting new people.’

According to page 40 of the manual, under “Development of Request for Proposal (RFP),” the RFP “shall state the relative importance of price and other evaluation factors but shall not require numerical weighing of each factor.” The manual places no restrictions on the number or type of factors, “as long as they are stated in the request for proposal and relate to the purpose of the procurement.”

The RFPs sent out by the County between Jan. 2 and 16 do not state any such factors.

Responding to the RFP emailed them by the County on Jan. 2, Davis & Floyd submitted a bid on Jan. 5 for $17,375, while GMC, responding to the RFP emailed them on Jan. 16, submitted a bid on Jan. 19 for $20,000. On Jan. 19, Mead & Hunt submitted a bid for $37,225 in response to the RFP made over the phone on Jan. 15.

The RFP, issued by the County, reads: “Fairfield County is seeking written proposals for the assessment of the Detention Center roof located at 10 Faith Lane. Please include in proposal an assessment and cost proposal for determining the possible cause and remedy for the Detention Center roof. County staff will be available for your review of the site.”

Work proposed by Davis & Floyd included “field investigations to support architectural upgrades as a result of the reroofing;” “construction documents sealed by Registered Architect;” “specifications to define work;” and involvement in the bidding and award process for the actual construction, to include the pre-bid conference; providing the County with plans and specs; and bid opening and award/contract with owner and bidder. Their proposal did not include materials testing or roof coring, nor did it include construction period services.

Mead & Hunt offered project management, to include preparation of the owner/architect agreement, oversight and quality control, document checking and project organization; as well as documentation and analysis, to include a visual investigation of the roof and documentation of existing conditions, an infrared study and core samples of the roof, and to refine architectural roof plans according to their investigation. The firm also offered a design development phase, which would have included roof demolition plans, re-roofing plans and detail, outline specifications, their opinion of probable construction costs and final design documents.

Mead & Hunt also proposed to prepare construction documents and offered to be on hand for the bidding phase and provide extensive oversight and administration during the construction phase.

Mead & Hunt also broke out their proposal in phases, bidding $3,725 for the assessment phase (infrared scan and core test; architectural report; project management); $9,300 for the design document phase, $9,300 for the bid document phase and $3,725 for the bidding phase (each of which included architecture and project management); $9,300 for the construction phase (architecture; project management, construction administrator); and $1,875 for the post-construction phase (record drawings).

GMC’s proposal was offered in two phases. Phase one, for which the company offered the winning $20,000 bid, consists of obtaining a copy of the existing building construction documents for use in their study; investigating the existing conditions of the room systems inside the Detention Center; documentation of probable deficiencies and recommendations for the “replacement, repair and/or modification” of the roof; creating a project budget estimate; and presenting their findings to County staff.

Not included in GMC’s $20,000 bid, but offered in a second phase of the project, are the creation of “construction documents suitable for competitive bidding, including demolition and new construction;” plans for permitting; assistance with bid solicitation; construction administration services; and a meeting between the design team and the County “to ensure the scope of work and contractual requirements are covered.”

“Compensation for Phase II is TBD (to be determined) based upon the approved budget,” GMC’s bid concludes.

Under the header “Bidder Information” on page 28 of the County’s procurement manual, “All procurements in excess of $10,000 shall be publicized in a newspaper of general circulation, or County website (www.fairfieldsc.com).”

Although the lowest bid for the project came in at more than $7,000 over this amount, there is no evidence that the County adhered to this stipulation.

“This request was not advertised,” Pope confirmed via email Tuesday. “Staff solicited quotes. The firms Mead & Hunt and Davis & Floyd are current firms solicited and contracted through the County’s IDC contract solicitation. Two firms were selected from the list and Goodwyn Mills & Cawood was also contacted. They recently performed work.”

That work entailed coming in behind S2 and providing the County with a comprehensive report on the causes of the Drawdy Park wall failure, as well as supervising the reconstruction of the collapsed wall.

According to page 29 of the manual, competitive sealed bids are “required when procurement is anticipated to exceed $25,000.” That County Council planned far enough ahead when preparing the 2014-2015 budget last year to set aside $35,000 for a roof assessment project may indicate that the project was indeed “anticipated to exceed $25,000.”

Pope told The Voice Tuesday that GMC had in fact previously quoted a price of $35,000, although he did not say when or under what circumstances. Nothing in the documents provided by the County to The Voice indicate anything other than the $20,000 bid, which, Pope said, was only for the first phase of the work.

“Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood would be responsible for assessing the building and reviewing previous building as-builts (drawings),” Pope said. “The construction services will be put out for bid.”

While for a lower price Davis & Floyd offered a broader scope of work, to include construction documents and involvement in the bidding process for construction, and Mead & Hunt offered a range of work that spanned from the assessment to construction administration for a slightly higher price, administration recommended and Council approved GMC.

“The proposals weren’t based solely on price,” Pope said. “Currently, Mead & Hunt and Davis & Floyd are assigned to several projects for the County. The decision was made to issue to Goodwyn Mills & Cawood. Any proposal can change pending on the findings, which may determine a broader scope of work. All findings would be brought to County Council to review and act upon.”

 

Comments

  1. Norm_Nav says

    I’m wondering why “STAFF” is finding it so difficult to follow their own rules. Looks like we had apples and oranges RFP and Bids. GMA did give us findings on S2 projects based on assumptions not in evidence, so of course we would want to give them the nod. RIGHT?

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