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

Dive Brief:

  • The Federal Freeway Administration (FHWA) has suspended FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc. from collaborating in any federally funded assignments and has proposed a 10-calendar year debarment time period for the organization, according to U.S. Division of Transportation correspondence. The company’s suspension went into impact July 14.
  • The letter from USDOT Acting Inspector Standard Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to lawmakers claimed the FHWA was having the motion versus FIGG “to defend the community desire.” He claimed the agency’s final decision was dependent on FIGG’s conduct associated to the Florida Worldwide University (FIU) bridge collapse in Miami in March 2018.
  • FIGG has thirty times to contest the FHWA’s motion, at which place it will be ready to argue versus debarment. If FIGG does not contest the motion, then a Suspending and Debarring Official (SDO) will make a final decision about debarment dependent on accessible information.

Dive Perception:

The FHWA prohibitions on contracting with FIGG during the suspension extends to all federal agencies, barring all but subcontracts of $thirty,000 or a lot less, and applies to condition assignments that receive federal cash. It simply cannot be waived except the head of an company, according to the Standard Companies Administration, states in creating a compelling purpose as to why it really should keep carrying out company with the engineering organization. 

According to FHWA recommendations, a suspension usually simply cannot last a lot more than 18 months, though the normal time body is confined to 12 months though the federal federal government conducts its investigation. The normal size of debarment is 3 many years.

An NTSB investigation of the deadly pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU uncovered that the probable will cause of the accident were being FIGG’s style and design and load capability errors. An OSHA investigation stopped limited of declaring a cause of the collapse, though the two agencies faulted other contractors and consultants that they established had a role to enjoy in the safe and sound execution of the challenge.

The new bridge collapsed on to automobiles stopped below it, killing 5 people on the floor and a single worker who was on the bridge. Various other folks were being injured.

Though the product that the IG despatched to Congress last week contained information about the FHWA’s motion versus FIGG, the principal objective of the interaction was to supply lawmakers with a summary of the corporations — 41 contractors, subcontractors, consultants and product suppliers — involved in the style and design, design and inspection of the FIU bridge, which includes information on any safety violations and prior legal convictions.

The IG uncovered that none of the forty one firms, which includes FIGG, had previous federal legal convictions nor had been disqualified from collaborating in federal assignments. OSHA cited 17 of the corporations for safety violations concerning January 2010 and January 2020, and 5 were being cited in relationship with the FIU collapse.

Construction Dive attained out to FIGG for feedback but obtained no reaction by push time. 

The most prevalent reasons for suspension and debarment, claimed lawyer Brian Wooden with Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP in Washington, D.C., are:

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

Without having understanding the details of the FHWA’s scenario versus FIGG, Wooden claimed, the 10 many years of debarment that the federal government has proposed appears to be extreme. “And, for that make any difference, it is a tiny bit peculiar to see a debarment for some thing like this — basically [alleged] professional carelessness.”  

FIGG can problem the debarment hard work and even ask for a reconsideration down the road if the debarment essentially goes through, Wooden claimed, specially since the proposed 10 many years is so long. In addition, he claimed, the federal government could come up with a various punitive evaluate, potentially barring FIGG from involvement in specific varieties of assignments. 

“There is a ton of discretion built into the procedures for that,” Wooden claimed.

Even if FIGG is not debarred, the lawyer claimed, the enterprise could be topic to a “de facto debarment,” in which scenario federal government agencies could downgrade its rating dependent on past efficiency, specifically the FIU bridge collapse, and not award the organization get the job done. 

FIGG’s present assignments shouldn’t be influenced by the suspension, but even individuals aren’t always safe and sound, he claimed. “That won’t suggest they cannot glance for a purpose to terminate [them from the challenge].”