Dive Brief:

  • The Federal Freeway Administration (FHWA) has suspended FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc. from participating in any federally funded tasks and has proposed a 10-calendar year debarment period of time for the organization, according to U.S. Section of Transportation correspondence. The company’s suspension went into impact July 14.
  • The letter from USDOT Acting Inspector Normal Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to lawmakers mentioned the FHWA was using the motion in opposition to FIGG “to shield the community curiosity.” He mentioned the agency’s choice was dependent on FIGG’s perform associated to the Florida Intercontinental College (FIU) bridge collapse in Miami in March 2018.
  • FIGG has thirty days to contest the FHWA’s motion, at which issue it will be equipped to argue in opposition to debarment. If FIGG does not contest the motion, then a Suspending and Debarring Formal (SDO) will make a choice about debarment dependent on offered information and facts.

Dive Insight:

The FHWA prohibitions on contracting with FIGG during the suspension extends to all federal organizations, barring all but subcontracts of $thirty,000 or fewer, and applies to point out tasks that acquire federal funds. It are unable to be waived unless of course the head of an company, according to the Normal Products and services Administration, states in creating a powerful reason as to why it ought to keep carrying out business with the engineering organization. 

According to FHWA suggestions, a suspension frequently are unable to previous extra than 18 months, even though the usual time body is restricted to twelve months although the federal govt conducts its investigation. The usual size of debarment is three decades.

An NTSB investigation of the lethal pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU observed that the possible will cause of the accident ended up FIGG’s structure and load capability mistakes. An OSHA investigation stopped short of declaring a lead to of the collapse, even though both equally organizations faulted other contractors and consultants that they established experienced a position to engage in in the protected execution of the challenge.

The new bridge collapsed onto cars and trucks stopped underneath it, killing 5 men and women on the ground and a person worker who was on the bridge. A number of many others ended up injured.

Although the materials that the IG sent to Congress previous week contained information and facts about the FHWA’s motion in opposition to FIGG, the major purpose of the conversation was to offer lawmakers with a summary of the organizations — 41 contractors, subcontractors, consultants and materials suppliers — involved in the structure, building and inspection of the FIU bridge, together with information and facts on any protection violations and prior legal convictions.

The IG observed that none of the forty one companies, together with FIGG, experienced preceding federal legal convictions nor experienced been disqualified from participating in federal tasks. OSHA cited 17 of the organizations for protection violations between January 2010 and January 2020, and 5 ended up cited in connection with the FIU collapse.

Construction Dive arrived at out to FIGG for feedback but been given no reaction by push time. 

The most prevalent motives for suspension and debarment, mentioned attorney Brian Wood with Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP in Washington, D.C., are:

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

With no realizing the facts of the FHWA’s scenario in opposition to FIGG, Wood mentioned, the 10 decades of debarment that the govt has proposed seems excessive. “And, for that matter, it is a tiny bit peculiar to see a debarment for one thing like this — basically [alleged] qualified negligence.”  

FIGG can challenge the debarment hard work and even ask for a reconsideration down the road if the debarment in fact goes through, Wood mentioned, particularly mainly because the proposed 10 decades is so extended. In addition, he mentioned, the govt could arrive up with a distinct punitive measure, probably barring FIGG from involvement in specific forms of tasks. 

“There is a good deal of discretion built into the policies for that,” Wood mentioned.

Even if FIGG is not debarred, the attorney mentioned, the firm could be subject matter to a “de facto debarment,” in which scenario govt organizations could downgrade its rating dependent on past effectiveness, namely the FIU bridge collapse, and not award the organization do the job. 

FIGG’s recent tasks should not be afflicted by the suspension, but even those people usually are not necessarily protected, he mentioned. “That does not necessarily mean they cannot appear for a reason to terminate [them from the challenge].”