Citing FIU bridge collapse, feds propose 10-year debarment for FIGG

Dive Temporary:

  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has suspended FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc. from taking part in any federally funded tasks and has proposed a ten-12 months debarment period of time for the firm, according to U.S. Section of Transportation correspondence. The company’s suspension went into effect July 14.
  • The letter from USDOT Acting Inspector General Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to lawmakers explained the FHWA was taking the action from FIGG “to secure the community desire.” He explained the agency’s conclusion was based on FIGG’s conduct similar to the Florida Global College (FIU) bridge collapse in Miami in March 2018.
  • FIGG has thirty times to contest the FHWA’s action, at which issue it will be in a position to argue from debarment. If FIGG does not contest the action, then a Suspending and Debarring Official (SDO) will make a conclusion about debarment based on offered information and facts.

Dive Perception:

The FHWA prohibitions on contracting with FIGG during the suspension extends to all federal businesses, barring all but subcontracts of $thirty,000 or a lot less, and applies to state tasks that get federal money. It are unable to be waived unless of course the head of an company, according to the General Products and services Administration, states in creating a persuasive reason as to why it should really keep executing enterprise with the engineering firm. 

According to FHWA pointers, a suspension usually are unable to previous far more than eighteen months, even though the typical time frame is minimal to 12 months while the federal governing administration conducts its investigation. The typical duration of debarment is three several years.

An NTSB investigation of the deadly pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU found that the probable brings about of the incident have been FIGG’s style and design and load capacity glitches. An OSHA investigation stopped brief of declaring a cause of the collapse, even though the two businesses faulted other contractors and consultants that they identified experienced a part to perform in the harmless execution of the task.

The new bridge collapsed on to vehicles stopped below it, killing five individuals on the ground and one worker who was on the bridge. Several others have been hurt.

Whilst the materials that the IG despatched to Congress previous week contained information and facts about the FHWA’s action from FIGG, the main objective of the communication was to provide lawmakers with a summary of the corporations — 41 contractors, subcontractors, consultants and materials suppliers — involved in the style and design, building and inspection of the FIU bridge, including information and facts on any basic safety violations and prior criminal convictions.

The IG found that none of the 41 firms, including FIGG, experienced preceding federal criminal convictions nor experienced been disqualified from taking part in federal tasks. OSHA cited 17 of the corporations for basic safety violations between January 2010 and January 2020, and five have been cited in link with the FIU collapse.

Construction Dive reached out to FIGG for comments but been given no response by push time. 

The most typical good reasons for suspension and debarment, explained attorney Brian Wooden with Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP in Washington, D.C., are:

  • fraud
  • intentional, willful noncompliance
  • misconduct
  • bribes
  • collusion
  • bid-rigging

Devoid of understanding the specifics of the FHWA’s situation from FIGG, Wooden explained, the ten several years of debarment that the governing administration has proposed would seem intense. “And, for that issue, it is a tiny bit peculiar to see a debarment for some thing like this — basically [alleged] qualified negligence.”  

FIGG can problem the debarment effort and even request a reconsideration down the highway if the debarment truly goes by, Wooden explained, especially for the reason that the proposed ten several years is so lengthy. In addition, he explained, the governing administration could arrive up with a unique punitive measure, perhaps barring FIGG from involvement in selected sorts of tasks. 

“There is a lot of discretion created into the procedures for that,” Wooden explained.

Even if FIGG is not debarred, the attorney explained, the firm could be issue to a “de facto debarment,” in which situation governing administration businesses could downgrade its ranking based on past efficiency, specifically the FIU bridge collapse, and not award the firm perform. 

FIGG’s current tasks should not be influenced by the suspension, but even those people usually are not always harmless, he explained. “That won’t signify they won’t be able to glance for a reason to terminate [them from the task].” 

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