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

Dive Temporary:

  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has suspended FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc. from taking part in any federally funded jobs and has proposed a 10-yr debarment period of time for the firm, in accordance to U.S. Department of Transportation correspondence. The firm’s suspension went into effect July fourteen.
  • The letter from USDOT Acting Inspector Normal Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to lawmakers claimed the FHWA was having the motion from FIGG “to shield the community desire.” He claimed the agency’s final decision was based on FIGG’s conduct connected to the Florida Intercontinental University (FIU) bridge collapse in Miami in March 2018.
  • FIGG has thirty days to contest the FHWA’s motion, at which stage it will be able to argue from debarment. If FIGG does not contest the motion, then a Suspending and Debarring Official (SDO) will make a final decision about debarment based on accessible data.

Dive Perception:

The FHWA prohibitions on contracting with FIGG during the suspension extends to all federal businesses, barring all but subcontracts of $thirty,000 or significantly less, and applies to state jobs that acquire federal resources. It are unable to be waived except if the head of an company, in accordance to the Normal Expert services Administration, states in producing a powerful purpose as to why it should really maintain doing company with the engineering firm. 

In accordance to FHWA tips, a suspension typically are unable to very last far more than eighteen months, although the normal time body is constrained to twelve months even though the federal authorities conducts its investigation. The normal size of debarment is a few years.

An NTSB investigation of the deadly pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU found that the probable results in of the accident were FIGG’s style and design and load capacity faults. An OSHA investigation stopped quick of declaring a result in of the collapse, although each businesses faulted other contractors and consultants that they decided had a job to play in the risk-free execution of the project.

The new bridge collapsed on to cars and trucks stopped down below it, killing 5 people today on the ground and 1 worker who was on the bridge. Many some others were wounded.

Whilst the material that the IG despatched to Congress very last 7 days contained data about the FHWA’s motion from FIGG, the main objective of the communication was to present lawmakers with a summary of the providers — 41 contractors, subcontractors, consultants and material suppliers — involved in the style and design, building and inspection of the FIU bridge, which include data on any protection violations and prior criminal convictions.

The IG found that none of the forty one firms, which include FIGG, had earlier federal criminal convictions nor had been disqualified from taking part in federal jobs. OSHA cited 17 of the providers for protection violations concerning January 2010 and January 2020, and 5 were cited in connection with the FIU collapse.

Design Dive reached out to FIGG for responses but acquired no reaction by push time. 

The most frequent motives for suspension and debarment, claimed legal professional Brian Wood with Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP in Washington, D.C., are:

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

With out recognizing the facts of the FHWA’s case from FIGG, Wood claimed, the 10 years of debarment that the authorities has proposed appears severe. “And, for that issue, it is a minor bit peculiar to see a debarment for one thing like this — basically [alleged] specialist negligence.”  

FIGG can obstacle the debarment work and even ask for a reconsideration down the highway if the debarment essentially goes through, Wood claimed, notably mainly because the proposed 10 years is so long. In addition, he claimed, the authorities could arrive up with a distinct punitive measure, perhaps barring FIGG from involvement in certain sorts of jobs. 

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

Even if FIGG is not debarred, the legal professional claimed, the company could be matter to a “de facto debarment,” in which case authorities businesses could downgrade its ranking based on previous general performance, namely the FIU bridge collapse, and not award the firm function. 

FIGG’s current jobs should not be afflicted by the suspension, but even these aren’t necessarily risk-free, he claimed. “That isn’t going to mean they are not able to glimpse for a purpose to terminate [them from the project].”