CIFAC NEWS

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2017 CIFAC Year in Review Banner

2017 President’s Message

By Dave A. Thomas, President, CIFAC. -

As CIFAC’s President, I saw 2017 as a year of change, progress and success. Turning work around, building our team and holding the line on force account limits were all goals well realized.Dave A Thomas, President, CIFAC

In the spring, CIFAC moved our headquarters to a more centralized location from Martinez to Fairfield. The new office at Martin Plaza is west of Highway 80 at the Waterman/Travis AFB Parkway exit. Midway between the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, the location gives easy access to our industry partners coming from either direction. We invite you to drop in anytime at 2420 Martin Road, Suite 250, Fairfield, CA 94534.

Halfway through the year, our longtime Executive Director Cathryn Hilliard retired after 20 years of service and our new Executive Director and former Regional Compliance Manager Michelle Tucker quickly stepped into the position.

Beginning July 1, Michelle traveled all over the State meeting with our partners and lining up mutual goals and objectives to advance job creation. She also hired two new Regional Compliance Managers, Justin Bochmann to cover her former Central California territory and Tony Morelli for the Southwestern quarter of the State. There were other notable changes in industry leadership at the end of 2017 as we said goodbye and thanks to Tom Holsman at AGC, Jim Reed at CCC and Mando Esparza at SCDCL.

In 2017, SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, together with various regional and local bond measures passed and authorized more than $100 billion in funds for public works; there was a clear directive from our Executive Committee and myself to expand CIFAC services at the local level. The White House Council of Economic Advisors says that for every $1 billion spent, 13,000 jobs are generated. We are working closely with our industry partners at the local level to make sure that the work is bid to the private sector.

CIFAC’s Commitment to our members and supporters:

  • Coordinating on mutual goals that support the industry
  • Supporting their events and activities
  • Getting results in record time

In 2018, there will be big improvements to our Facebook and email pages. Look for your photos as our Regional Compliance Managers (RCMs) are now supporting member activities and posting more photos of events on our cifac.org website, Facebook and via email.

CIFAC’s new computer Investigations Tracking Program is in full use as of 2017 and gives RCMs field access to all the records so they immediately have the data they need to turn work around, as speed is essential at the front end of projects to get them out to bid.

Northern and Southern California investigation highlights include CIFAC’s influencing the City of Carson in Southern California to use proper bidding for a $5.1 million storm drain and storm capture management system. Discrepancies on their website made the process highly questionable.

In Northern California, CIFAC influenced the City of Colma to bid its $10 million Town Hall Renovation Project. The project was awarded to a Carpenter signatory contractor, using signatory subcontractors.

The City of Stockton was influenced to rebid a $600,000 District-wide plumbing contract after improper procedures were used during the initial bid phase and was awarded to an unlicensed contractor.

For years, the City of Ukiah, the only city in the State to be sanctioned twice by the California Uniform Construction Cost Accounting Commission (CUCCAC), has been skirting the law. This time it was the installation of manhole covers throughout the City that were done so improperly that it earned Ukiah a Cal OSHA violation! Executive Director Tucker has been working for more than two years on the details with CIFAC Board member and Ukiah contractor Lee Howard. Howard and Tucker appeared before the City Council to warn them that this could be a third strike. When a jurisdiction gets a third strike, they lose the elevated $45,000 force account limit and it reverts back to $5,000.

For other examples of CIFAC victories, I refer you to the monthly progress reports. If you are not already on the list for these free monthly updates, please send your email address to snicholson@cifac.org.

Our legislative program is key to CIFAC’s successes. Eddie Bernacchi, our Sacramento legislative advocate, helped us deflect another slough of bills who tried to raise the force account levels of public agencies so they could keep much more work in-house. One of the most interesting in the last session was his work with the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. SB 622 would have raised the limit for all construction projects from $5,000 to $100,000 (other than vessel repair which already had a $100,000 limit). CIFAC opposed the bill and after discussions among CIFAC members, a GGBHT District Board member, the District General Manager, and CIFAC Executive Director, Bernacchi was able to get that provision removed from the bill.

CIFAC staff joined the support team for SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. We participated in support rallies put on by Governor Brown in both Northern and Southern California.

SB 591 was signed into law, which successfully closed the loophole some districts were using to circumvent having to advertise and fairly award Lease-leaseback projects.

I am committed to having a full compliment of staff, “boots on the ground,” to make sure that every opportunity for getting work out to our contractors and union members is first and foremost. I feel confident that we will finally have the resources we need in the next year or two to improve business development opportunities, enhance existing CIFAC programs and launch a more aggressive electronic media program. All of this is about jobs for our members now and in the future.

Sincerely,

David Thomas

Download 2017 Annual Report (PDF)


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2017 By The Numbers Banner

2017 By the Numbers – 2018 The Year Ahead

NORTHERN TERRITORY INVESTIGATIONS

2017 Northern Territory Investigations Graph

SOUTHERN TERRITORY INVESTIGATIONS

2017 Southern Territory Investigations Graph
2018 A Year Ahead Banner

New staff promises more energy, fresh perspectives and a revitalized feel to CIFAC. Our focus has never been stronger and with the future addition of two more compliance managers, we will be able to turn more work around for the industry. Paramount to our success is ensuring that CIFAC has enough staff to pursue our mission of monitoring and enforcing the Public Contract Code.Michelle Tucker, Executive Director

Outreach efforts will be increased, with staff attending more meetings and industry related events. Facebook postings and website updates will be more frequent. The use of Constant Contact, an email marketing program will allow us to significantly increase our communications to our industry members, that include news articles, industry alerts, progress reports and other relevant news.

Public funding for projects is at an all-time high, along with unprecedented man-hour projections from our partners. This presents new challenges as we continue to see an influx of public works projects and work feverishly to monitor the awarding agencies for compliance. The passage of the Road Repair Accountability Act or SB1 will bring millions of dollars to agencies for road construction, reconstruction and maintenance projects. CIFAC intends on diligently monitoring these agencies and their projects to ensure compliance with the Public Contract Code.

Along with increased public funding, means more agencies will try to self-perform work or pursue legislation to increase their bid threshold. CIFAC’s Executive Director or Legislative Advocate continuously monitor and analyze new legislation and changing conditions for their effect on industry priorities.

Our contribution to the public works construction industry is significant and we strive to increase those numbers as the year unfolds.


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California Senate Chamber

CIFAC LEGISLATIVE REPORT – 2017 Session Wrap-up

SACRAMENTO – The California Legislature wrapped up the 2017 legislative session on October 15th which was the deadline for Governor Brown to sign or veto legislation.

This year CIFAC championed legislation (AB 1019) to ensure proper funding and staffing for the California Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Commission which oversees the California Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act and the public agencies who are subject to it. Unfortunately, despite support for the measure from public agencies and the construction industry, both labor and management, the measure was vetoed by Governor Brown. In his veto message the Governor sited that the State Controller should have the authority to allocate resources to commissions under his office. The veto of AB 1019 was disappointing, we will need to regroup and consult with the State Controller’s Office on next steps to ensure proper staffing of the California Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Commission.Eddie Bernacchi, Politico Group

Outside of the veto of AB 1019, CIFAC had another very successful legislative year. The biggest industry win came with the passage of SB 1, securing $5.2 billion annually for state and local transportation infrastructure. The passage of SB 1 positions CIFAC in an important role, to ensure the proper use and contracting out of those new funds.

We also brought home a victory in the area of further limiting the unfair use of lease-leaseback school construction procurement, which should save CIFAC staff time when monitoring and investigating these types of projects.

In addition, and as always, CIFAC took the leading role in defending force account limits.

Enclosed is a list of the key bills CIFAC took positions on in 2017 and the outcome.

LEGISLATION CIFAC SUPPORTED

AB 1019 – California Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act. Commission Funding: Would have guaranteed staffing of the Act’s administrators, the California Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Commission, by the State Controller’s Office. This would have ensured that audits of public agencies who are out of compliance with the Act were performed timely.CIFAC Likes icon

Status: Dead – Vetoed by Governor

GOVERNOR'S VETO MESSAGE:

To the Members of the California State Assembly:

I am returning Assembly Bill 1019 without my signature.

This bill requires the State Controller's Office to make staff available to support the California Uniform Construction Cost Accounting Commission.

The need for this bill is unclear. I am confident that the State Controller's Office is more than capable of dedicating the necessary staff to support the Commission and its work without the mandate called for in this bill.

Sincerely,
Edmund G. Brown Jr.

SB 1 - Transportation Funding: In April of 2017, the California State legislature passed and Governor Brown signed into law SB 1, the Road Repair & Accountability Act.

SB 1 will provide approximately $5.2 billion annually for California roads, highways and transit systems. Half the money will be for state transportation and half for local roads. The revenue collection will begin November 2017.

The money will be allocated as follows and totals $52.4 billion: (10-year outlook)

State investment programs (50%)

  • Fix-it-First Highways $15 billion
  • Bridge and Culvert Repair $4 billion
  • Trade Corridor Investments $3 billion
  • Solutions for Congested Commute Corridors $2.5 billion
  • Parks Funding for Ag, Off-Highway Vehicle & Boating $800 million
  • STIP (State Share) $275 million
  • Freeway Service Patrol $250 million
  • California Public Universities Transportation Research $70 million

Local/Regional investment programs (50%)

  • Fix-it-First Local Roads $15 billion
  • Transit Capital and Operations $7.5 billion
  • Local Partnership Funds $2 billion
  • Active Transportation Program Bicycle and Pedestrian Investments $1 billion
  • STIP (Local Share) $825 million
  • Local Planning Grants $250 million

The money will be generated as follows and will total $52.4 billion: (10-year outlook)

  • Fuel Taxes:
  • Gas Excise $24.4 billion
  • Diesel Excise $7.3 billion
  • Diesel Sales $3.5 billion
  • Vehicle-Based Fees:
  • Value-Based Transportation Improvement Fee $16.3 billion
  • Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) Fee Commencing in 2020 $200 million
  • One-Time Repayment of Transportation Loans
  • Repaying Outstanding Loans from the General Fund: $706 million

AB 591 – School Property: Lease: County Boards of Education: Closes a loophole some school districts were using to circumvent recently enacted laws that require that schools using the lease-leaseback project procurement method advertise for bids and establish a competitive selections process for awarding lease-leaseback contracts.

Status: Signed into law

SB 256 – Public Contracts: Criminal Offenses and Statute of Limitations: Would criminalize as misdemeanors certain violations of public contract law dealing with competitive bidding and would allow the commencement of the prosecution of those crimes and other, similar crimes within 3 years from the date of the offense.

Status: Held in Senate Appropriations Committee

SB 634 – Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency: Reorganizes Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District into the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency and applies the requirements of the Public Contract Code to the new agency.

Status: Signed into law

LEGISLATION CIFAC OPPOSED

AB 636 – Local Streets and Roads: Expenditure Reports: Current law requires each city and county to submit to the Controller a complete report of expenditures for street and road purposes by October 1 of each year relative to the preceding fiscal year ending on June 30. This bill would instead require the report to be submitted to the Controller within 7 months after the close of the fiscal year adopted by a county, city, or city and county.CIFAC Dislikes icon

Status: Held in Senate Rules Committee

AB 1250 – Counties and Cities: Contracts for Services: Establishes specific standards for the use of services contracts by counties and cities. Beginning January 1, 2018, the bill would only allow a county or county agency, or a city or city agency, to contract for services currently or customarily performed by their current employees when specified conditions are met. Among other things, the bill would require the county or city to clearly demonstrate that the proposed contract will result in actual overall costs savings to the county or city and also to show that the contract does not cause the displacement of county or city workers. CIFAC opposed the bill and was able to secure amendments exempting construction, alteration, demolition, installation, repair, or maintenance work from the provisions of the measure.

Status: Held in Senate Appropriations Committee

SB 622 – Transportation District: Contracts: Requires a bridge and highway district to advertise for contracts for all vessel repair, maintenance, and alteration work if the estimated expenditure exceeds $1,000,000, and for all other construction, repair, maintenance, and alteration work, and all similar work, if the estimated expenditure exceeds $5,000, in at least one newspaper and one trade paper of general circulation. CIFAC opposed the bill as originally drafted which would have raised the force account limit on construction, repair and maintenance from $5,000 to $100,000. At our request that provision of the bill was removed.

Status: Signed into law

LEGISLATION CIFAC ACTIVELY MONITORED

AB 618 – Job Order Contracting: Community College Districts: Authorizes community college districts to enter into job order contracts, an alternative construction contracting agreement currently available to school districts, until January 1, 2022.

Status: Signed into law

SB 851 – Local Agency Projects: Extends the sunset date on the authority of counties to use construction manager at-risk contracting, extends construction manager at-risk contracting authority to the City of San Diego, and allows the Santa Clara Valley Water District to use the design-build procurement method.

Status: Signed into law

AB 1424 – University of California: Best Value Construction Contracting Program: Eliminates the sunset on the University of California's authority to use the best value procurement method for construction contracting.

Status: Signed into law


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Public or Private? Labor Code VS PCC Banner

Public or Private? Labor Code VS Public Contract Code on Public Projects

By Michelle Tucker, Executive Director. -

There appears to be much confusion surrounding public project definitions. CIFAC Compliance Managers often hear “the Labor Commissioner made a decision that this is a public project so why didn’t it bid”. The Labor Code (LC) finds that most projects with more than a dollar of public money is classified as a public project with minimal exceptions.Michelle Tucker, Executive Director

The Labor Code, which outlines the requirements for the payment of prevailing wages defines a public project as the “construction, alteration, demolition, installation, or repair work done under contract and paid for in whole or in part out of public funds” and includes the design and pre-construction phases of work.

Just because a construction project is funded through public funds does not mean that the Public Contract Code (PCC) applies.

The PCC definition varies depending on the type of agency. There are over 100 different types of agencies listed, including state agencies like Caltrans and local agencies such as cities, counties and school districts. There are some basic factors that indicate a project may be subject to the PCC such as if the public agency is handling the procurement of contractors on a project, whether the funds are public or private, the classification of work involved and the cost value of the work.

Private non-profit organizations, associations or joint powers authorities are not required to follow the Public Contract Code although their funding is commonly public money.

If you have any questions about the applicability of the PCC or are concerned about a project in your area, please contact CIFAC.


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Maintenance or New Construction? The Million Dollar Question

By Jamie Watkins, Southeastern Regional Compliance Manager. -

Here at CIFAC one of the ways Regional Compliance Managers monitor state and local government agencies, is by reviewing city agendas looking for any items that may be out of compliance with the Public Contract Code. I was recently sent notification of a City in my region advertising a Request for Proposal (RFP) for “on call painting services.” The three-year contract was described as maintenance work to preserve city owned facilities. Determining “maintenance” as distinguished from “new construction” is not a black and white decision, but rather a gray area. The Public Contract Code states maintenance work and new construction is:Jamie Watkins, Southeastern Regional Compliance Manager

Maintenance Work (PCC section 22002), maintenance work “is routine, recurring work for preservation or protection of any publicly owned facility. Minor repainting is allowed, as well as the work to maintain publicly owned facilities.” Maintenance is touch up, work for example painting a portion of the building, painting doors, or door frames

New Construction. (PCC section 22002(c)) specifies that new construction “is the renovation, improvements, demolition and repair work involving any publicly owned, or operated facility.” Painting or repainting can be considered new construction based on the scope of the project. New construction for example could be considered painting an entire building.

Although there are many unknown facts about the scope of the project, if the work turns out to be specifically maintenance it is important to know maintenance work does not have a cap and multi-year maintenance contracts are legal. Agencies are not required to bid maintenance work, however we encourage them to do so. If the project turns out to be new work per the definition of new construction, then the project should follow the competitive bidding process.

With this in mind, I will continue to monitor upcoming city agendas for clarification on the project. CIFAC can be a resource for the contractors, as well as cities explaining Public Contract Code requirements, fair bidding, and transparency.


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Sometimes you Don't Know, What you Don't Know

Charter City responds… “We’re doing what’s best,” Really? Sometimes you Don’t Know, What you Don’t Know…

By Anthony (Tony) Morelli, Southwestern Regional Compliance Manager. -

During the second week of January, 2018, I noticed that the City of Arcadia was intending to award a $223,939 contract for their Fire Station No. 105 roof restoration project to a Southern California roofing contractor.

Upon additional research, I determined that this was being procured through the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliances Cooperative Purchasing Program or National Joint Powers Agreement (NJPA) with the bidding and awarding process being handled by U.S. Communities. (The use of NJPA’s or Cooperative Agency Purchasing agreements are totally legal per the State of California’s Government Code Sections; 6500 and 6502)Tony Morelli, Southwestern Regional Compliance Manager

Arcadia’s Staff report listed four Southern California roofing contractors who through U.S. Communities JPA, bid on this project with bids ranging from $223,939 to $446,594. Unable to find any local source for the advertising of this project, including the City’s own website, I wondered how or if the advertising and awarding process had even been properly conducted? That started my investigation to acquire more information from the City to verify that the advertising and awarding process was being followed as required.

Sending the City a formal request for information, (knowing that Arcadia is a Charter City and as such can determine their own Charter/Municipal Code policy’s concerning contracting) I asked anyway for information concerning the advertising and awarding process on this project and additionally requested that they please table the awarding of this contract until the City was able to respond to my concerns. The City replied that they would table the awarding of the contract out of an abundance of caution until they could look into CIFAC’s concerns and would get back to me.

Approximately 10 days later, I received the City’s written response: (Summarized)

“The City of Arcadia’s Staff and Attorney have reviewed CIFAC’s concerns and believes CIFAC’s allegations are without merit.

As CIFAC may be aware, the City of Arcadia is a charter city generally subject to its charter, municipal code and other applicable laws. The procurement for the project is to be completed pursuant to the U.S. Communities cooperative procurement program.

In addition to the City’s authority to enter into JPA type cooperative agreements, City staff also diligently reviews and analyzes all proposed procurements, including this one. In this case, City staff also required the vendor to document multiple subcontractor pricing for installers to further verify the competitive pricing and savings to the City.

Based on due diligence completed by City staff, the City has determined that the proposed cooperative purchasing arrangement to be used for the project is the most economical and efficient method for procuring the project materials/services. Accordingly, City staff has also determined that there is no competitive advantage to be gained by further and/or additional competitive bidding of the project in light of these facts. Therefore based on all of the above reasons, the City is satisfied that it may lawfully proceed with the cooperative procurement contemplated for the project.”

End of story? I thought so, but on May 10th, I’m looking at Arcadia’s May 15th City Council Agenda items, when I’m suddenly transported back into the Twilight Zone! Low an behold, I see an agenda item seeking approval from the City Council to award a contract for the City’s Fire Station No.105 Roof restoration project to a different contractor in the amount of $107,553.00. Apparently the City had second thoughts and decided to re-evaluate the costs for this project. The City recently approved and purchased the specified roofing materials to be delivered directly for $74,488 and then put out a notice inviting bids for the installation portion of the project. Four bidders submitted bids, with the project being awarded to a local area contractor for $107,553. Total project cost this time around… $182,021 vs. $223,939. A cost savings to the City and its Citizens of $41,917!

That being said, I can’t help but wonder if my original inquiry helped to plant the seeds of doubt about the actual savings the City believed they were going to gain by utilizing the National JPA Cooperative Purchasing Program? I don’t believe in coincidence, but rather choose to believe that CIFAC’s inquiry ultimately affected a positive outcome for all concerned.

Oh and one final note, I reached out by email to Arcadia’s Public Works Director to thank him for competitively bidding out the contracting portion themselves and congratulate him on the cost savings for this project.  Yep… you guessed it, no reply!


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SB1 Article Banner

SB1 – Rebuild California’s Roads!

By Justin Bochmann, Central Regional Compliance Manager. -

In 2017, California Senate Bill 1 (SB1) was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. Also known as the, “Road Repair and Accountability Act”, the bill will raise approximately $52.4 billion over a 10-year period to invest in desperately needed transportation infrastructure repairs. The passage of this bill was a huge win for the construction industry, and Californians in general. Since California has not had a gas tax increase in nearly 25 years, billions of dollars in backlogged repairs have accumulated causing California’s roads and bridges to quite literally fall apart because of it. The funding generated from SB1 will ensure we have safe roads and bridges to drive on and provide thousands of good paying jobs to boot. Many CJustin Bochmann Central Regional Compliance Manager - CIFACalifornia communities are already seeing these dollars put to work in their area, and the growing workforce needed to accomplish this task.

With over 26 million licensed drivers in California, nearly double the next closest state, our roads see more action than anywhere else in the country. In turn, they deteriorate at a faster rate than most. It is estimated that the average driver will spend more than $700 per year on vehicle repairs caused by bad roads and bridges. Neglecting transportation infrastructure also brings forth other safety concerns such as heavy congestion in almost every part of the state. Not only do these nuisances effect each and every one of us, California’s economy as a whole is negatively affected.

The Ripple Effect is a term used in Economics to describe how one action has a spreading effect and influences other areas around it. Sometimes the effects are good and intended, while at other times they are unexpected and unintended. When it comes to keeping SB1, California’s economy will experience the ripple effect in a very positive way. More jobs, safer roads, higher sales and output by businesses, etc. If the repeal effort for SB1 is successful, a ripple effect will still be present but in the opposite direction. Not only will this jeopardize public safety and grow the traffic congestion problem, an estimated 680,000 jobs and more than $182 billion in economic growth will be lost over 10 years if SB1 is repealed. This one change could single handedly effect the entire state’s economy, including many other areas beyond construction. It would be detrimental for the growth of California going forward.

In order to prevent all of the negatives listed above, Californians must show up to vote in June’s Primary election and November’s General election. In June, Proposition 69 will lock in revenue brought in by SB1 and require that it is spent on transportation purposes and not diverted elsewhere. This is vital to the construction industry and important to the fight against the repeal effort expected to be present on the November ballot.

Be sure to vote Yes on 69 in June and Oppose the repeal of SB1 on the November ballot.

More info: https://fixcaroads.com/

https://fixcaroads.com/sb1-economic-impact/


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League of California Cities

League of California Cities Transportation Funding Toolkit

SB 1 Toolkit (Updated: 03/21/18)

The goal of the city and county toolkit is to help you inform and educate your community about projects and associated benefits that are being made possible by SB 1 – the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. The information is most informative/effective when you provide specific details about local projects happening in your city/county.

Additional SB1 Toolkit information here

SB 1: The Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017

For cities, SB 1 will double the amount of revenues they each receive from the state for their local street maintenance and rehabilitation needs. Annually, $500 to $650 million will go to cities statewide, allocated on a per capita basis. A vast majority of the new revenues for cities will come out of the newly created Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Account (RMRA) where cities will have to prioritize fixing their existing infrastructure first before having some additional flexibility for those funds for other transportation needs.

Below, is a listing of the estimated revenue generated from of SB 1 and when they go into effect:

  • $1.8 billion – 12 cent increase to gasoline excise tax (Nov. 1, 2017)
  • $730 million – 20 cent increase to diesel excise tax (Nov. 1, 2017)
  • $300 million – 4% addition to diesel sales tax (Nov. 1, 2017)
  • $704 million – One-time loan repayment (2017-2020)
  • $1.6 billion – $25-$175 transportation improvement fee (Jan 1, 2018)
  • $1.1 billion – 17.3 cent reset of price-based gas tax (July 1, 2019)
  • $20 million - $100 zero emission vehicle registration fee (July 1, 2020)

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See Something Say Something Banner

If you See Something, Say Something – It’s Not Just a Cliché

By Patricia (Patti) Rascon Southern Regional Compliance Manager. –

Just like any valuable tradesperson, the Regional Compliance Manager (RCM) team at CIFAC relies on many tools of the trade to empower us to complete our jobs. While we continuously monitor agendas in our respective regions to pinpoint force account violations, we also rely on alerts from our industry partners (boots on the ground), networking contacts, educational events and occasionally, Google Alerts. With that being said nothing beats being at the right place at the right time!Patricia (Patti) Rascon, Southern Regional Compliance Manager

What happens when a Public Works department admits to self-performing paving work at a depth over one inch because… “It’s just easier than bidding it out”? Yes, this actually occurred at an event I was attending! This information can and did set the wheels in motion for a closer look.

Straightforward information in problem solving includes the Five W’s: Who, What, Where, When and Why. In this scenario we know who and why. During the preliminary stages of my investigation, I located the issuance of two purchase orders for “Bulk Street Materials”. In of itself, this is a common practice, but when you factor in the purchase of a new grading tractor, a heavy duty loader and the admission of self-performing work, it definitely warrants an investigation! With a public records request in place, the missing blanks of what, where and when will soon be revealed to me, and will ultimately determine the outcome for this agency.

CIFAC values our industry partners and we strive to maintain integrity with all agencies concerning bidding, force account and the like. If you see something, say something, we are just a phone call or click away at www.cifac.org


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Force Account Limit and Bid Threshold Article Banner

Force Account Limit and Bid Threshold, What’s the Difference?

By Matthew (Matt) Hilliard, Bay Area Regional Compliance Manager. -

Our members, partners and supporters are frequently asking; “What’s the difference between a public agency’s force account limit and their bid threshold.” The person asking the question tends to be confused because they think they are one and the same.Matthew (Matt) Hilliard, Bay Area Regional Compliance Manager

Here's the difference by definition.

The Force Account limit is the limit of work that a public agency can do with its own forces before they must go out for competitive bids. Force account is the dollar value of labor, materials and equipment at the rate the public agencies charge themselves. Labor cost calculations are based on the entity’s actual cost of labor. Force account limits do not apply to maintenance work.

The Bid Threshold is the dollar amount at which an entity, if they are going to use a contractor, must bid out the work. This is sometimes set by a local ordinance, but is commonly used with Charter Cities. It may, but does not need to be the same as their force account limit.

Here’s where limits and thresholds get a little tricky, but we are available to help.

California State Law (General Law) defined in the California Public Contract Code (PCC) sets the force account limits and bid thresholds for public agencies. They vary by type of agency. For example, a general law city has a force account limit of $5,000, while a county has a $4,000 limit if their population is less than 500,000 and $6,500 if it is above 500,000. All new work over that amount must be formally advertised for competitive bid. School Districts and Special Districts have different force account limits.

Charter Cities can write their own rules but the local voters must approve these rules. They may set force account limits and bidding thresholds at different levels. CIFAC will always encourage Cities to follow general law when it comes to the public contracting section of their Charter.

Then there are public agencies that are signatory to the California Uniform Construction Cost Accounting Act (CUCCAA). They can self-perform the work to $45,000 and use informal bidding up to $175,000, above which they must advertise for formal bidding.

As you have read, the definitions of force account limits and bid thresholds are clearly different and there are a variety of formulas Counties, Cities and Special Districts use. That is why CIFAC exists. We use our expert knowledge of the Public Contract Code to help you with your questions and get you the answers you need.