In an article posted January 29th, 2020, Mark Cavitt writing for the Oakland Press tells us about a new resolution adopted by the County of Oakland Michigan which impacts the way the County awards construction projects.
Resolution 19416 states that performance of public construction and maintenance in the County of Oakland will be performed by Contractors that meets the “Responsible Contractor and Best Value Bid Evaluation Standard for Construction Project Policy”.
The standard states that “best value will be determined by looking at a variety of criteria including: quality, references, experience, proposed schedule, safety, time and cost. The responsibility of a bidder will be determined by looking at: experience on projects of similar size and complexity within the past 5 years, references from owners, credit worthiness/financial condition and bonding capacity among other criteria.”
The resolution establishes that the county shall create, “a standard measurement of responsibility qualifications for each, construction project bid.”
The resolution goes on to identify the information that may be required as;
Experience on projects of similar size and complexity within the past 5 years.
References from owners.
Credit worthiness/financial condition and bonding capacity.
Proof of Insurance and/or Certificate of Insurance.
Certification from the bidder that construction workers will not be misclassified.
Disclosure of any debarment by any federal, state or local governmental unit.
Disclosure of any violations of any federal, state, or local laws, including OSHA/MIOSHA violations.
If required by bid standards, ensure there is a criminal record check for each employee the bidder proposes to use on a construction site or alternative security clearances approved by the County.
For far too long public sector procurement has strictly observed the practice of awarding contracts to the lowest “responsible” bidder. Lawmakers have relied on the interpretation of the word “responsible” as a form of qualifier, but that single word created vagueness and ambiguity that allowed too broad of an interpretation. Often this interpretation translated into “any” bidder with insurance and a license was deemed “responsible”. This left public sector works exposed to unqualified or barely qualified suppliers instead of in the hands of “Responsible Contractors”.
The issue that will likely come up from a policy like this will be award challenges from Contractors who fail to meet the County’s standard.
The success of this policy will be tied to establishing clear and objective scoring methodologies. This can be challenging, so in support the move by Oakland County, I wanted to spend some time discussing the keys to establishing sound and objective scoring methodologies for evaluating supplier qualifications.