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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 taking part in any federally funded projects and has proposed a 10-12 months debarment interval for the organization, in accordance to U.S. Department of Transportation correspondence. The company’s suspension went into outcome July fourteen.
  • The letter from USDOT Acting Inspector General Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to lawmakers mentioned the FHWA was taking the action in opposition to FIGG “to shield the community interest.” He mentioned the agency’s selection was centered on FIGG’s perform linked to the Florida Intercontinental University (FIU) bridge collapse in Miami in March 2018.
  • FIGG has thirty days to contest the FHWA’s action, at which stage it will be ready to argue in opposition to debarment. If FIGG does not contest the action, then a Suspending and Debarring Formal (SDO) will make a selection about debarment centered on out there details.

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 significantly less, and applies to point out projects that receive federal resources. It can’t be waived unless of course the head of an agency, in accordance to the General Products and services Administration, states in writing a compelling purpose as to why it really should maintain doing business enterprise with the engineering organization. 

According to FHWA guidelines, a suspension frequently can’t very last extra than 18 months, despite the fact that the typical time body is limited to twelve months whilst the federal authorities conducts its investigation. The typical length of debarment is a few many years.

An NTSB investigation of the deadly pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU identified that the possible triggers of the incident were FIGG’s design and load potential problems. An OSHA investigation stopped limited of declaring a induce of the collapse, despite the fact that equally agencies faulted other contractors and consultants that they identified experienced a job to play in the risk-free execution of the challenge.

The new bridge collapsed onto automobiles stopped down below it, killing 5 persons on the ground and one worker who was on the bridge. Quite a few other individuals were wounded.

While the materials that the IG sent to Congress very last 7 days contained details about the FHWA’s action in opposition to FIGG, the principal purpose of the interaction was to offer lawmakers with a summary of the businesses — 41 contractors, subcontractors, consultants and materials suppliers — involved in the design, construction and inspection of the FIU bridge, which includes details on any basic safety violations and prior criminal convictions.

The IG identified that none of the 41 companies, which includes FIGG, experienced former federal criminal convictions nor experienced been disqualified from taking part in federal projects. OSHA cited seventeen of the businesses for basic safety violations amongst January 2010 and January 2020, and 5 were cited in relationship with the FIU collapse.

Design Dive achieved out to FIGG for responses but been given no reaction by press time. 

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

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

With no knowing the information of the FHWA’s situation in opposition to FIGG, Wooden mentioned, the 10 many years of debarment that the authorities has proposed looks extreme. “And, for that make any difference, it is a tiny little bit peculiar to see a debarment for a thing like this — basically [alleged] professional negligence.”  

FIGG can obstacle the debarment work and even request a reconsideration down the street if the debarment actually goes by means of, Wooden mentioned, particularly since the proposed 10 many years is so extended. In addition, he mentioned, the authorities could come up with a distinctive punitive evaluate, most likely barring FIGG from involvement in specified kinds of projects. 

“There is a large amount of discretion constructed into the rules for that,” Wooden mentioned.

Even if FIGG is not debarred, the attorney mentioned, the corporation could be topic to a “de facto debarment,” in which situation authorities agencies could downgrade its rating centered on earlier functionality, specifically the FIU bridge collapse, and not award the organization get the job done. 

FIGG’s current projects should not be impacted by the suspension, but even all those are not automatically risk-free, he mentioned. “That does not imply they won’t be able to glimpse for a purpose to terminate [them from the challenge].”