Fix the pumps

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Problems at the floodgates - Part 4.1

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

As many of you who are local know, the pumps at the floodgates are experiencing vibration problems. It is unclear if those problems have been solved or not, since the local Corps office is giving mixed signals. In the latest Times-Picayune article about the vibration problems, printed September 16th - the day after the last public tests at the London Avenue gates - the local Corps officials seemed upbeat. However, a September 26th WWL-TV report indicates the Corps has only shaky (pardon the pun) confidence in the pumps.

There might be a reason for the loss of optimism on the Corps' part. A new bid solicitation was published yesterday on the Corps' Contracting page. Those of you who are regular readers remember that I check the Contracting page every day. The Technical Data Package has not been posted yet. When it is, it will be behind the FedBizOpps firewall, unreadable to members of the public.

Keep in mind, that this solicitation might just be for routine spare parts. Or it might be for a routine long term maintenance contract for the engines. However, the synopsis gives some tantalizing details that point toward something related to the recent problems out there.

First, there's the title, which mentions "a Caterpillar engine already installed at outfall canals in New Orleans, LA." Secondly, the title refers to replacement parts, not spare parts. Third, there is the simple fact that the solicitation exists at all, when one considers that the seller - in this case MWI - is usually responsible for all repairs to newly installed equipment. Fourth, there is the fact that they are advertising for a service (the NAICS code refers to repair and maintenance, not supply of parts). If it were simply supply of parts, the NAICS code, which is how the government classifies businesses, would probably reflect that. The government has an NAICS code for everything.

Now if this is just for spare parts or a regular maintenance contract, then it's nothing to worry about and I'm just talking out my rear end. But if it is for parts needed at the floodgates to assure proper operation of the pump motors, then one really has to wonder why the response date is two weeks away, considering we are still in the height of hurricane season. Is this another example of the lack of urgency?

Next: Part 5 - What can you do?


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