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

Dive Temporary:

  • 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 for the firm, according to U.S. Department of Transportation correspondence. The company’s suspension went into impact July fourteen.
  • The letter from USDOT Acting Inspector Basic Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to lawmakers said the FHWA was taking the action versus FIGG “to safeguard the general public interest.” He said the agency’s choice was based mostly on FIGG’s perform related to the Florida Worldwide University (FIU) bridge collapse in Miami in March 2018.
  • FIGG has 30 days to contest the FHWA’s action, at which stage it will be capable to argue versus debarment. If FIGG does not contest the action, then a Suspending and Debarring Official (SDO) will make a choice about debarment based mostly on out there data.

Dive Perception:

The FHWA prohibitions on contracting with FIGG during the suspension extends to all federal organizations, barring all but subcontracts of $30,000 or significantly less, and applies to point out tasks that obtain federal money. It cannot be waived except the head of an agency, according to the Basic Solutions Administration, states in crafting a compelling motive as to why it really should retain executing business with the engineering firm. 

According to FHWA rules, a suspension frequently cannot previous a lot more than eighteen months, while the regular time body is limited to twelve months though the federal governing administration conducts its investigation. The regular length of debarment is a few a long time.

An NTSB investigation of the lethal pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU located that the probable results in of the accident were FIGG’s design and style and load capacity glitches. An OSHA investigation stopped short of declaring a result in of the collapse, while each organizations faulted other contractors and consultants that they identified had a job to engage in in the risk-free execution of the project.

The new bridge collapsed on to cars stopped under it, killing 5 persons on the floor and just one employee who was on the bridge. Several some others were wounded.

Though the materials that the IG despatched to Congress previous 7 days contained data about the FHWA’s action versus FIGG, the principal goal of the interaction was to supply lawmakers with a summary of the corporations — 41 contractors, subcontractors, consultants and materials suppliers — involved in the design and style, building and inspection of the FIU bridge, which include data on any security violations and prior felony convictions.

The IG located that none of the forty one firms, which include FIGG, had earlier federal felony convictions nor had been disqualified from participating in federal tasks. OSHA cited 17 of the corporations for security violations concerning January 2010 and January 2020, and 5 were cited in connection with the FIU collapse.

Construction Dive achieved out to FIGG for responses but acquired no reaction by push time. 

The most widespread reasons for suspension and debarment, said attorney Brian Wood with Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP in Washington, D.C., are:

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

Devoid of understanding the aspects of the FHWA’s scenario versus FIGG, Wood said, the 10 a long time of debarment that the governing administration has proposed looks excessive. “And, for that subject, it is a very little little bit peculiar to see a debarment for anything like this — basically [alleged] skilled carelessness.”  

FIGG can obstacle the debarment work and even ask for a reconsideration down the street if the debarment truly goes via, Wood said, particularly simply because the proposed 10 a long time is so lengthy. In addition, he said, the governing administration could occur up with a unique punitive evaluate, probably barring FIGG from involvement in selected kinds of tasks. 

“There is a large amount of discretion constructed into the procedures for that,” Wood said.

Even if FIGG is not debarred, the attorney said, the company could be subject matter to a “de facto debarment,” in which scenario governing administration organizations could downgrade its ranking based mostly on past efficiency, particularly the FIU bridge collapse, and not award the firm work. 

FIGG’s recent tasks should not be affected by the suspension, but even all those are not necessarily risk-free, he said. “That won’t indicate they cannot glance for a motive to terminate [them from the project].”