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

Nellie R. Ortiz

Dive Short: 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 interval for the business, in accordance to U.S. Section of Transportation correspondence. The company’s suspension went into effect July 14. The letter from […]

Dive Short:

  • 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 interval for the business, in accordance to U.S. Section of Transportation correspondence. The company’s suspension went into effect July 14.
  • The letter from USDOT Acting Inspector Typical Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to lawmakers stated the FHWA was getting the motion towards FIGG “to shield the community fascination.” He stated the agency’s determination was centered on FIGG’s perform relevant to the Florida International College (FIU) bridge collapse in Miami in March 2018.
  • FIGG has 30 times to contest the FHWA’s motion, at which level it will be in a position to argue towards debarment. If FIGG does not contest the motion, then a Suspending and Debarring Formal (SDO) will make a determination about debarment centered on accessible info.

Dive Insight:

The FHWA prohibitions on contracting with FIGG during the suspension extends to all federal organizations, barring all but subcontracts of $30,000 or significantly less, and applies to condition projects that get federal funds. It can not be waived until the head of an company, in accordance to the Typical Companies Administration, states in composing a persuasive motive as to why it ought to preserve executing organization with the engineering business. 

According to FHWA recommendations, a suspension commonly can not last additional than eighteen months, despite the fact that the regular time body is minimal to 12 months although the federal govt conducts its investigation. The regular duration of debarment is 3 decades.

An NTSB investigation of the fatal pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU discovered that the possible will cause of the accident have been FIGG’s design and load capability faults. An OSHA investigation stopped limited of declaring a cause of the collapse, despite the fact that each organizations faulted other contractors and consultants that they established experienced a part to perform in the protected execution of the job.

The new bridge collapsed on to automobiles stopped below it, killing 5 people on the ground and one employee who was on the bridge. Quite a few other people have been wounded.

While the product that the IG despatched to Congress last 7 days contained info about the FHWA’s motion towards FIGG, the most important function of the conversation was to provide lawmakers with a summary of the organizations — 41 contractors, subcontractors, consultants and product suppliers — involved in the design, design and inspection of the FIU bridge, which include info on any protection violations and prior felony convictions.

The IG discovered that none of the forty one firms, which include FIGG, experienced prior federal felony convictions nor experienced been disqualified from collaborating in federal projects. OSHA cited 17 of the organizations for protection violations concerning January 2010 and January 2020, and 5 have been cited in link with the FIU collapse.

Construction Dive reached out to FIGG for feedback but been given no reaction by push time. 

The most widespread causes for suspension and debarment, stated attorney Brian Wood with Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP in Washington, D.C., are:

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

Without understanding the particulars of the FHWA’s circumstance towards FIGG, Wood stated, the 10 decades of debarment that the govt has proposed looks intense. “And, for that make a difference, it is a minor bit peculiar to see a debarment for a thing like this — basically [alleged] specialist negligence.”  

FIGG can challenge the debarment effort and even ask for a reconsideration down the road if the debarment actually goes by way of, Wood stated, specifically since the proposed 10 decades is so lengthy. In addition, he stated, the govt could come up with a distinct punitive evaluate, probably barring FIGG from involvement in particular styles of projects. 

“There is a large amount of discretion constructed into the procedures for that,” Wood stated.

Even if FIGG is not debarred, the attorney stated, the corporation could be subject matter to a “de facto debarment,” in which circumstance govt organizations could downgrade its ranking centered on previous efficiency, specifically the FIU bridge collapse, and not award the business perform. 

FIGG’s recent projects should not be affected by the suspension, but even people usually are not always protected, he stated. “That will not mean they are unable to appear for a motive to terminate [them from the job].” 

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