Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Detroit Water Board Adopts Suspension and Debarment Policy, Clarifies Earlier Actions (UPDATED)

The Detroit Board of Water Commissioners today approved a resolution rescinding ab initio the suspension resolution it adopted on December 21, 2011 and amended its January 11, 2012 resolution, which lifted suspensions as to 5 contractors, to cover all contractors originally suspended on December 21, 2011. The Board then took up and adopted a formal Suspension and Debarment Policy.

DWSD's new Suspension and Debarment Policy starts by declaring that the Department will only do business with responsible vendors (contractors). The policy then spells out the criteria for determining who is a responsible contractor and establishes notice and hearing procedures (due process) for the Water Board to follow before it suspends or debars a contractor.

The new Suspension and Debarment Policy(*) addresses criticism of the Board's earlier actions, which suspended contractors without prior notice and without providing the affected contractors with an opportunity to review and respond to charges against them. (Comment: These are due process requirements that should have been followed in the first instance. The Board took the right steps today by stopping, backing up, and putting things in the right order.)  

With the new policy in hand, Chairperson James Fausone announced: (1) that the Board would conduct "Responsible Bidder Hearings" for (some of) the previously suspended contractors (I'll update this post when I confirm the exact list of names), (2) that the Ad Hoc Hearing Committee would consist of Commissioners Thrower, Kenoyer and Williams), and (3) that "Responsible Bidder Hearings" would be conducted on the following dates: 
  • Friday, February 10, 2012 (p.m.)
  • Wednesday, February 15, 2012 (a.m.)
Hearings will be subject to the Open Meetings Act.

Then, there will be a Special Water Board Meeting on February 15, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. to consider the Hearing Committee's findings and recommendations. Some of the same contractors named in the previous resolutions could find themselves suspended again.

Due perhaps to the planned consideration and adoption of the Suspension and Debarment Policy(**), the Chairperson announced at the start of today's Board Meeting that resolutions to approve 3 design-build and construction contracts were being pulled from the Agenda -- PC-787 (Belt Filter Presses), PC-783 (Underground Electrical Ductbank Repair), and DWS-862A (Department-Wide Security Upgrades).  

The Board did approve a contract with Metco Services for CS-1498 (Aeration System Improvements) and a one-year contract with Onyx Enterprises, Inc. (Tarolyn Buckles) to provide technical advisory services to the Water Board. Ms. Buckles replaces Jim Ridgway, who apparently could not come to terms with the Board on a contract.

* Copies of the new DWSD Suspension and Debarment Policy have been posted here. were not immediately available, pending the addition of a small change requested by one of the Commissioners, but it should be posted on the Department's home page within a few days.

** There was no reason given publicly for pulling these contracts from the Agenda, and only 1 of the 3 contractors, Lakeshore Engineering Services, is caught up in the on-again, off-again suspension saga. The Chairperson gave some indication at the end of today's meeting, however, that these 3 contracts would return to the Agenda at the Regular Water Board Meeting on February 22, 2012. 

For more information about DWSD Update, click here.

No comments: