Friday, March 16, 2012

Water Board Finds Insufficient Evidence to Suspend or Debar L. D'Agostini & Sons and DLZ Michigan (UPDATED)

On March 14, 2012, the Board of Water Commissioners received the report and recommendations of the Ad Hoc Hearing Committee, which conducted Responsible Vendor Hearings on March 7th and March 14th for L. D'Agostini & Sons, Inc.  and DLZ Michigan, Inc. The Hearing Committee reported that at the present time it did not have sufficient facts or other evidence to warrant taking any action against the two contractors.

In both cases, on a 5-1 vote, with Commissioner Forte abstaining both times,  the Board of Water Commissioners adopted the findings of the Hearing Committee.

A third contractor, Inland Waters Pollution Control, reportedly reached an agreement with the Water Board which will give it 45 days to negotiate a final settlement agreement or (presumably) participate in a Responsible Vendor Hearing.

The lone dissenting vote against adopting the recommendations of the Hearing Committee came from the Chairperson of the Water Board, James Fausone. Prior to casting his NO vote, twice, Chairperson Fausone read a statement outlining his concerns and specific reasons regarding each contractor. Both statements contained a common thread: integrity.

The standard that applies is tied to the City of Detroit purchasing ordinance and the burden is on the vendor to demonstrate it has a "satisfactory record of integrity, judgment or performance." The burden is not on this Board. The debarment policy picks up on this on page one --"The BOWC may determine that a vendor is not a responsible vendor if there is a finding that the vendor has failed to demonstrate a satisfactory record of integrity, judgment or performance."

Additionally I would note Section III, #14 of the Debarment policy provides in terms of causes that "any other conduct or activity by the vendor that has a harmful effect upon the integrity of the bidding, contracting or procurement processes of the DWSD or the public trust or confidence in the operations of DWSD" are grounds for debarment.

So I must ask -- what is integrity? The dictionary definition is simple: adherence to moral and ethical principals; soundness of moral character; honesty.
* * * 
The need for integrity in public construction process is paramount. The burden on a vendor is high.

Chairperson Fausone stated that in both cases he believed the vendor -- based on the criminal indictment against Kwame Kilpatrick, Bobby Ferguson and others, which he said could not have been brought without the federal prosecutor satisfying a probable cause standard -- had failed to meet its burden of proof under the Department's Suspension and Debarment Policy.

Commissioner Williams, a member of the Hearing Committee, also read a statement which indicated that he was confident that the Water Board could revisit these issues at a later time if additional (new) facts come out during any subsequent criminal prosecutions or civil actions.

Update (11/15/12): For anyone who is interested to see how a Responsible Vendor Hearing was conducted, one of the participants, L. D'Agostini & Sons, recently filed a transcript of their March 7, 2012 Hearing in the 15 Mile Sewer Collapse lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court. A copy of the transcript of the March 7, 2012 Responsible Vendor Hearing for L. D'Agostini & Sons can be read here. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

No comments: