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

Dive Quick:

  • The Federal Freeway Administration (FHWA) has suspended FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc. from collaborating in any federally funded projects and has proposed a 10-12 months debarment time period for the business, according to U.S. Section of Transportation correspondence. The company’s suspension went into effect July fourteen.
  • The letter from USDOT Acting Inspector Common Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to lawmakers claimed the FHWA was using the action versus FIGG “to defend the public fascination.” He claimed the agency’s conclusion was primarily based on FIGG’s perform linked to the Florida Worldwide College (FIU) bridge collapse in Miami in March 2018.
  • FIGG has 30 days to contest the FHWA’s action, at which position it will be equipped to argue versus debarment. If FIGG does not contest the action, then a Suspending and Debarring Formal (SDO) will make a conclusion about debarment primarily based on out there facts.

Dive Perception:

The FHWA prohibitions on contracting with FIGG during the suspension extends to all federal companies, barring all but subcontracts of $30,000 or significantly less, and applies to point out projects that acquire federal funds. It simply cannot be waived except if the head of an company, according to the Common Solutions Administration, states in creating a powerful reason as to why it need to continue to keep performing business enterprise with the engineering business. 

In accordance to FHWA pointers, a suspension generally simply cannot very last additional than 18 months, despite the fact that the usual time frame is constrained to 12 months although the federal govt conducts its investigation. The usual duration of debarment is three years.

An NTSB investigation of the lethal pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU observed that the probable triggers of the accident ended up FIGG’s design and style and load capacity errors. An OSHA investigation stopped small of declaring a bring about of the collapse, despite the fact that the two companies faulted other contractors and consultants that they determined had a position to enjoy in the safe and sound execution of the project.

The new bridge collapsed onto cars stopped underneath it, killing 5 people today on the ground and just one employee who was on the bridge. Many many others ended up injured.

Whilst the materials that the IG sent to Congress very last 7 days contained facts about the FHWA’s action versus FIGG, the primary goal of the communication was to provide lawmakers with a summary of the companies — 41 contractors, subcontractors, consultants and materials suppliers — involved in the design and style, building and inspection of the FIU bridge, which includes facts on any security violations and prior prison convictions.

The IG observed that none of the 41 corporations, which includes FIGG, had former federal prison convictions nor had been disqualified from collaborating in federal projects. OSHA cited 17 of the companies for security violations amongst January 2010 and January 2020, and 5 ended up cited in relationship with the FIU collapse.

Construction Dive attained out to FIGG for opinions but been given no reaction by push time. 

The most frequent explanations for suspension and debarment, claimed attorney Brian Wooden with Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP in Washington, D.C., are:

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

Without knowing the particulars of the FHWA’s circumstance versus FIGG, Wooden claimed, the 10 years of debarment that the govt has proposed appears extraordinary. “And, for that make a difference, it is a minimal little bit peculiar to see a debarment for one thing like this — basically [alleged] expert negligence.”  

FIGG can problem the debarment energy and even ask for a reconsideration down the street if the debarment basically goes as a result of, Wooden claimed, notably for the reason that the proposed 10 years is so prolonged. In addition, he claimed, the govt could come up with a various punitive measure, potentially barring FIGG from involvement in certain kinds of projects. 

“There is a great deal of discretion designed into the policies for that,” Wooden claimed.

Even if FIGG is not debarred, the attorney claimed, the organization could be issue to a “de facto debarment,” in which circumstance govt companies could downgrade its score primarily based on past effectiveness, particularly the FIU bridge collapse, and not award the business work. 

FIGG’s latest projects shouldn’t be afflicted by the suspension, but even those usually are not necessarily safe and sound, he claimed. “That isn’t going to indicate they won’t be able to look for a reason to terminate [them from the project].” 

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