By Tony Morelli, CIFAC Southwestern Regional Compliance Manager
As a result of consistently monitoring Public Agencies and their actions, CIFAC’s Regional Compliance Managers are achieving their objectives through determination and insistence that Public Agencies comply with California’s legal requirements when advertising, bidding or awarding public projects.
Two recent examples highlight CIFAC’s success…
The Ojai Unified School District was recently seeking Board approval to award an $81,300 contract for two large shade structures for use at their Meiners Oaks Elementary School. With no other supporting documentation on how the project was procured, CIFAC contacted the District for more information.
The District's Bond Manager responded, indicating that the District was utilizing a piggy-back contract from the Fullerton Joint Union High School District and since the installation portion was less than $15,000, they did not advertise the installation work for bid.
CIFAC advised the District that, unfortunately they could not procure the project in this manner. The use of piggy-back contracts, per the language in the Public Contract Code, section 20118, is meant for the purchase of personal property items and does not mention, nor include the construction or installation of any items that are permanently affixed to real property.
Additionally, we provided the District with a copy of the California Attorney Generals 2006 opinion and conclusion [89 Ops. Cal Atty Gen. 05-405] supporting CIFAC’s position. The School District is also subject to the California Uniform Construction Cost Accounting Act (CUCCAA) procurement requirements, so we provided them with a copy of the CUCCAA Commission's 2020 written opinion concerning piggy-back contracts, which aligned with the State Attorney Generals conclusion.
After evaluating CIFAC’s position and the supporting documents, the District agreed to remove the item from their Board agenda and properly bid-out the project as required.
The City of Paramount was intending to award a contract for their $400,000 Progress Park Plaza Interior Improvements project. The projects scope-of-work included the installation of an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant unisex bathroom, a new storage area with room for a washer and dryer, new lighting fixtures, ceiling tiles, carpet, storefront windows and an updated front entrance.
While looking closer at the details, CIFAC determined that the contractor the City was about to award to was not currently registered with the Department of Industrial Relations to perform public works construction.
CIFAC contacted the City and advised them that per Labor Code section 1771.1 (a) and 1725.5, the City could neither accept nor consider bids from unregistered contractors and would need to either award to the second lowest bidder or re-bid the project. The City thanked CIFAC for bringing this to their attention and indicated that they would be re-bidding the project to ensure compliance.