Fix the pumps

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Decison day? Yes

According to the GAO bid protest docket website (plug in "W912P8" in the "Solicitation Number" field to get all Corps New Orleans District protests, including the six actions on the permanent pumps solicitation of W912P8-09-R-0013), today is the deadline for the first of the permanent pump station protests to be decided. Of course, that might just be an artifact of the GAO's reporting, and the decision might not come for a couple of months. Still, I did want to put the news out there.

Update - later in the day

Maybe today wasn't the deadline, because no decision was recorded on the GAO's webpage. Perhaps the actual deadline is in October, as I surmised earlier. Hits on my blog today indicated keen interest, so maybe something happened and the webpage just didn't get updated.

Update - the next day

Huge news - the GAO upheld all the bidders' protests.

They updated their webpage today, indicating the protests were sustained. They also released a statement on the decision to the media, but not to the public yet. The Times-Picayune wrote it up with the lede:
"The process the Army Corps of Engineers used to award a $675-million contract for pump stations to a New Orleans firm that had hired an official who formerly worked for the agency was flawed, according to a decision from Congress's investigative arm."

This refers to the lead firm in the winning coalition - CDM - hiring Richmond Kendrick, the Corps' former Chief of Program Execution for the just shuttered Hurricane Protection Office (HPO).

It's remarkable that the GAO actually rejected a bid award because of the infamous revolving door between the Corps and their contractors.

There was some other stuff too:
"The GAO's decision noted several flaws in the process used to award the contract. In particular, the Corps failed to properly evaluate CBY's technical proposal for pump station operation and that bidders 'may have been misled about the role of price in the evaluation.'"

Corps stenographer Engineering News-Record also had a write-up, adding an extra detail:
"Related to pump station operation, GAO also notes a technical discrepancy, says White. "The Corps evaluation was flawed because the agency's requirements for withstanding lateral loads," he says."

I'll keep an eye out for any indication the revised bid specs have been circulated to the final five bidders, assuming all of them bid again. It's hard to see how CDM will succeed unless they remove the problem that led to the decision, but we'll see.

And of course, this means the rusty pumps will stay out there much longer. Even if they all have their carbon steel parts replaced with stainless steel, there's still unaddressed design flaws. And the testing they do - ten minutes every six or eight weeks (or longer - it's kind of whenever they get around to it) - doesn't prove anything other than they can turn on the engines.


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