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

Dive Temporary:

  • The Federal Freeway Administration (FHWA) has suspended FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc. from collaborating in any federally funded projects and has proposed a 10-calendar year debarment period of time for the organization, according to U.S. Department of Transportation correspondence. The company’s suspension went into outcome July fourteen.
  • The letter from USDOT Acting Inspector Normal Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to lawmakers explained the FHWA was taking the action against FIGG “to shield the public interest.” He explained the agency’s decision was centered on FIGG’s carry out linked to the Florida Intercontinental College (FIU) bridge collapse in Miami in March 2018.
  • FIGG has thirty days to contest the FHWA’s action, at which point it will be equipped to argue against debarment. If FIGG does not contest the action, then a Suspending and Debarring Formal (SDO) will make a decision about debarment centered on accessible info.

Dive Perception:

The FHWA prohibitions on contracting with FIGG during the suspension extends to all federal companies, barring all but subcontracts of $thirty,000 or significantly less, and applies to condition projects that acquire federal resources. It can’t be waived except the head of an company, according to the Normal Services Administration, states in producing a compelling explanation as to why it should preserve undertaking business with the engineering organization. 

In accordance to FHWA tips, a suspension generally can’t very last far more than eighteen months, even though the normal time frame is confined to 12 months even though the federal governing administration conducts its investigation. The normal size of debarment is three years.

An NTSB investigation of the fatal pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU found that the possible will cause of the accident were FIGG’s layout and load ability problems. An OSHA investigation stopped brief of declaring a result in of the collapse, even though both equally companies faulted other contractors and consultants that they established experienced a position to perform in the safe execution of the task.

The new bridge collapsed on to autos stopped beneath it, killing 5 folks on the floor and a single employee who was on the bridge. A number of some others were hurt.

Though the product that the IG despatched to Congress very last 7 days contained info about the FHWA’s action against FIGG, the major intent of the conversation was to give lawmakers with a summary of the organizations — 41 contractors, subcontractors, consultants and product suppliers — involved in the layout, design and inspection of the FIU bridge, including info on any protection violations and prior legal convictions.

The IG found that none of the forty one companies, including FIGG, experienced prior federal legal convictions nor experienced been disqualified from collaborating in federal projects. OSHA cited seventeen of the organizations for protection violations in between January 2010 and January 2020, and 5 were cited in relationship with the FIU collapse.

Development Dive reached out to FIGG for reviews but acquired no reaction by push time. 

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

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

With out being aware of the facts of the FHWA’s scenario against FIGG, Wooden explained, the 10 years of debarment that the governing administration has proposed appears to be intense. “And, for that matter, it is a tiny little bit peculiar to see a debarment for one thing like this — basically [alleged] expert carelessness.”  

FIGG can obstacle the debarment energy and even request a reconsideration down the street if the debarment truly goes by, Wooden explained, notably since the proposed 10 years is so long. In addition, he explained, the governing administration could come up with a distinct punitive evaluate, possibly barring FIGG from involvement in specific varieties of projects. 

“There is a good deal of discretion built into the rules for that,” Wooden explained.

Even if FIGG is not debarred, the legal professional explained, the company could be matter to a “de facto debarment,” in which scenario governing administration companies could downgrade its rating centered on previous functionality, specifically the FIU bridge collapse, and not award the organization do the job. 

FIGG’s current projects shouldn’t be affected by the suspension, but even all those aren’t always safe, he explained. “That isn’t going to signify they can’t look for a explanation to terminate [them from the task].”