County Must Restart CTC Engineer Search

WINNSBORO – The search for a new firm to provide engineering services for County Transportation Committee (CTC) projects will have to start anew, Interim County Administrator Milton Pope told The Voice Tuesday, because of a flawed selection process.

Dan Dennis, owner of Dennis Corp., an engineering firm that was in the running for the contract, brought his concerns over the process to the County during Council’s June 22 meeting. One of six firms to submit proposals in response to the County’s March 30 Request for Qualifications (RFQ), Dennis Corp. ultimately lost out to I.C.E. (Infrastructure Consulting & Engineering, formerly Coleman-Snow Consulting), whom a three-member selection committee recommended to Administration.

Also submitting qualifications were Davis & Floyd, Inc.; HDR ICA Engineering; Vaughn & Melton Consulting Engineers; and Weston & Sampson. I.C.E. is also the current holder of the two-year contract.

“I’m not here because I’m a sore loser and Dennis Corp. was not selected as your County CTC engineer,” Dennis told Council during the second public comment portion of the June 22 meeting. “To my knowledge, I don’t believe proper procurement was followed.”

Dennis later told The Voice that the County’s selection committee had failed to interview candidates, as stipulated by the RFQ as advertised, prior to making its recommendation. Dennis said the S.C. Department of Transportation (DOT), which administers the funds for CTC projects, also requires that candidates be interviewed, in accordance with the state’s Consolidated Procurement Code.

Section 11-35-3220 (4) of the Code states, in part, that “. . . the agency selection committee shall hold interviews with at least three persons or firms who respond to the committee’s advertisement and who are considered most qualified . . .”

Pope said the contract, which is re-advertised every two years, had not yet been officially awarded and that all Administration had to date was the recommendation from the committee. The selection committee, Pope said, consisted of two members of the CTC and one member of the County’s Public Works Department. The committee met last month to review the RFQs and scored each based on five criteria.

Those criteria were: Past Performance/Related Experience on Similar Projects (25 points); Ability of Professional Personnel (25 points); Demonstrated Ability to Meet Time and Budget Requirements (20 points); Location of Firm (15 points); and Recent, Current and Project Work Load (15 points).

Although interviews with the top candidates were to follow, the CTC component of the committee “said ‘we don’t need to interview’,” Pope said, even though the County’s Procurement staff brought the necessity of the interviews to the committee’s attention.

Pope said Procurement staff then brought the matter to his attention. Dennis, who received his rejection from the County in a letter dated June 2, also brought the matter to the attention of Pope and Council.

“Unless I am provided with additional information,” Dennis’s June 16 letter to Pope, copies of which also went to Council, states, “I will have no choice but to file a formal protest of this selection . . .” The letter then noted the County’s failure to conduct the interviewing process.

Pope said Tuesday that the County was going to re-advertise the RFQ as quickly as possible.

“That’s good news,” Dennis said this week after learning of the County’s reversal. “It needs to be done right. Of course, my name is probably going to the bottom of the list now, but you’ve got to stand up for what is right.”