Design-Phase Work Precluded Firm From Bidding On Construction Phase

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 9:33 am
January 2018 - Volume 40 Number 1

Denied: Conflict of Interest

Matter of: HBI-GF, JV, 2017 U.S. Comp. Gen. B-415036 Lexis 326 (Nov. 13, 2017)

An engineering firm that played an early role in a government agency’s project design was precluded from later joining forces with a construction firm to bid on the build phase of the project.

HBI-GF, JV (HBI-GF)---a joint venture of Hayward Baker, Inc. and Gannett Fleming, Inc.---submitted a proposal for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) project to construct six miles of cutoff walls at Herbert Hoover Dike embankment at Lake Okeechobee in Florida. The Corps then excluded HBI-GF from the competition for the construction contract due to an organizational conflict of interest (OCI). HBI-GF protested that finding, claiming that the government’s OCI analysis failed to meaningfully consider relevant information and was otherwise unreasonable. The Comptroller General was unconvinced.

One of the HBI-GF joint venture firms, Gannett Fleming, Inc. (Gannett Fleming), took part in a separate, initial stage of the project as part of Gannett Fleming/GEI Consultants Joint Venture (GF-GEI). The Corps had issued a task order to GF-GEI to conduct an external safety review for the design phase. And, under that order, GF-GEI agreed to review "the design and construction activities prior to the initiation of physical construction and periodically thereafter until construction activities are completed … for the purpose of assuring public health, safety, and welfare."

3 types of OCI

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (F.A.R.) §9.5 desc[..]