January 19, 2022


Anything but ordinary

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

Dive Transient:

  • The Federal Freeway Administration (FHWA) has suspended FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc. from participating in any federally funded jobs and has proposed a 10-year debarment interval for the agency, according to U.S. Department 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 explained the FHWA was getting the action versus FIGG “to safeguard the community fascination.” He explained the agency’s decision was primarily based on FIGG’s conduct linked to the Florida International College (FIU) bridge collapse in Miami in March 2018.
  • FIGG has thirty days to contest the FHWA’s action, at which issue 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 decision about debarment primarily based on available information.

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 a lot less, and applies to state jobs that get federal money. It can’t be waived except the head of an company, according to the Typical Solutions Administration, states in crafting a persuasive rationale as to why it need to keep undertaking business with the engineering agency. 

In accordance to FHWA tips, a suspension generally can’t last extra than 18 months, even though the usual time frame is confined to 12 months while the federal authorities conducts its investigation. The usual size of debarment is a few decades.

An NTSB investigation of the fatal pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU found that the probable will cause of the accident ended up FIGG’s structure and load potential mistakes. An OSHA investigation stopped short of declaring a bring about of the collapse, even though each businesses faulted other contractors and consultants that they determined had a purpose to perform in the harmless execution of the task.

The new bridge collapsed onto cars and trucks stopped under it, killing 5 men and women on the ground and just one employee who was on the bridge. Numerous many others ended up hurt.

Though the materials that the IG sent to Congress last week contained information about the FHWA’s action versus FIGG, the most important purpose of the communication was to supply lawmakers with a summary of the firms — 41 contractors, subcontractors, consultants and materials suppliers — involved in the structure, development and inspection of the FIU bridge, such as information on any safety violations and prior felony convictions.

The IG found that none of the forty one companies, such as FIGG, had former federal felony convictions nor had been disqualified from participating in federal jobs. OSHA cited 17 of the firms for safety violations among January 2010 and January 2020, and 5 ended up cited in link with the FIU collapse.

Development Dive arrived at out to FIGG for feedback but acquired no reaction by push time. 

The most prevalent reasons for suspension and debarment, explained attorney Brian Wood with Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP in Washington, D.C., are:

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

Without having knowing the information of the FHWA’s case versus FIGG, Wood explained, the 10 decades of debarment that the authorities has proposed looks intense. “And, for that issue, it is a small little bit peculiar to see a debarment for one thing like this — basically [alleged] professional negligence.”  

FIGG can problem the debarment exertion and even ask for a reconsideration down the street if the debarment in fact goes via, Wood explained, especially for the reason that the proposed 10 decades is so lengthy. In addition, he explained, the authorities could come up with a different punitive evaluate, perhaps barring FIGG from involvement in certain types of jobs. 

“There is a good deal of discretion developed into the policies for that,” Wood explained.

Even if FIGG is not debarred, the attorney explained, the business could be subject to a “de facto debarment,” in which case authorities businesses could downgrade its rating primarily based on earlier effectiveness, namely the FIU bridge collapse, and not award the agency operate. 

FIGG’s latest jobs should not be influenced by the suspension, but even those are not automatically harmless, he explained. “That doesn’t indicate they are not able to appear for a rationale to terminate [them from the task].”