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

3 min read

Dive Transient:

  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has suspended FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc. from participating in any federally funded assignments and has proposed a ten-year debarment interval for the company, in accordance to U.S. Division of Transportation correspondence. The firm’s suspension went into result July fourteen.
  • The letter from USDOT Acting Inspector Normal Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to lawmakers said the FHWA was taking the action towards FIGG “to guard the public desire.” He said the agency’s determination was based on FIGG’s perform similar to the Florida International University (FIU) bridge collapse in Miami in March 2018.
  • FIGG has thirty times to contest the FHWA’s action, at which issue it will be in a position to argue towards debarment. If FIGG does not contest the action, then a Suspending and Debarring Formal (SDO) will make a determination about debarment based on offered details.

Dive Insight:

The FHWA prohibitions on contracting with FIGG during the suspension extends to all federal businesses, barring all but subcontracts of $thirty,000 or fewer, and applies to condition assignments that get federal cash. It are not able to be waived except the head of an agency, in accordance to the Normal Providers Administration, states in composing a persuasive explanation as to why it ought to retain doing business enterprise with the engineering company. 

According to FHWA rules, a suspension frequently are not able to very last additional than 18 months, whilst the normal time body is confined to twelve months while the federal authorities conducts its investigation. The normal size of debarment is 3 many years.

An NTSB investigation of the lethal pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU discovered that the possible triggers of the accident were being FIGG’s layout and load capacity errors. An OSHA investigation stopped quick of declaring a induce of the collapse, whilst both of those businesses faulted other contractors and consultants that they determined experienced a part to engage in in the protected execution of the job.

The new bridge collapsed on to automobiles stopped down below it, killing 5 individuals on the ground and one particular employee who was on the bridge. A number of other people were being wounded.

While the substance that the IG sent to Congress very last 7 days contained details about the FHWA’s action towards FIGG, the main goal of the interaction was to deliver lawmakers with a summary of the companies — 41 contractors, subcontractors, consultants and substance suppliers — involved in the layout, development and inspection of the FIU bridge, including details on any protection violations and prior criminal convictions.

The IG discovered that none of the 41 corporations, including FIGG, experienced prior federal criminal convictions nor experienced been disqualified from participating in federal assignments. OSHA cited seventeen of the companies for protection violations in between January 2010 and January 2020, and 5 were being cited in link with the FIU collapse.

Design Dive attained out to FIGG for remarks but been given no response by push time. 

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

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

Without the need of recognizing the details of the FHWA’s situation towards FIGG, Wooden said, the ten many years of debarment that the authorities has proposed seems intense. “And, for that issue, it is a tiny bit peculiar to see a debarment for some thing like this — basically [alleged] qualified negligence.”  

FIGG can challenge the debarment effort and hard work and even ask for a reconsideration down the highway if the debarment in fact goes as a result of, Wooden said, particularly simply because the proposed ten many years is so extended. In addition, he said, the authorities could arrive up with a distinctive punitive measure, maybe barring FIGG from involvement in specific kinds of assignments. 

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

Even if FIGG is not debarred, the attorney said, the enterprise could be subject to a “de facto debarment,” in which situation authorities businesses could downgrade its score based on earlier general performance, namely the FIU bridge collapse, and not award the company do the job. 

FIGG’s current assignments shouldn’t be affected by the suspension, but even those usually are not essentially protected, he said. “That does not signify they cannot look for a explanation to terminate [them from the job].” 

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