By Patricia (Patti) Rascon, Southern Regional Compliance Manager
You know the game, three inverted cups or nutshells are moved about, and contestants must spot the one with a pea or other object underneath. The players in this game are the City of Coachella, CIFAC, and not one but two contactors that we will call Contractor Inc. and Contractor LLC.
Round one started when Contractor Inc. submitted a bid to the City of Coachella on February 8, 2021, for a Landscape Maintenance Services and Lighting Maintenance Districts agreement with a canceled California State Contractors License (CSLB) as of February 1, 2021.
Round two, the City awarded the bid to Contractor Inc. on February 24, 2021! Sleight of hand, let the games begin!
Initially, Rascon advised the City' Public Works Director that Contractor Inc.'s CSLB License was invalid and unable to contract. She suggested that the City should award to the next lowest bidder or re-advertise the project. The Public Works Director swiftly responded with a copy of a replacement CSLB License belonging to Contractor LLC. Is the game over yet? NOTA CHANCE.
The CSLB License swap opened a Pandora's Box to multiple issues with the proposal documents. Closer scrutiny uncovered that Contractor LLC signed the Parties and Dates Sheet; however, the Surety Affirmation listed Contractor Inc. The Surety Bond reflected Contractor LLC, and the Certificate of Liability Insurance named the insured as Contractor LLC. Still, the Certificate Holder was the City of La Quinta when it should have been issued to the City of Coachella. ALL documents must be consistent with one license. Whoa, stop the game!
In a letter to the City leadership, Rascon outlined the discrepancies CIFAC uncovered concerning the two different contractors. She advised that all work currently in progress cease immediately; that the City review the documents and deem the contractor non-responsible and non-responsive, immediately rescinding the contract and re-bid the project.
Game over! CIFAC wins this high-stakes game. The City has agreed to review all the documents, and the project will be re-bid shortly. This is a win for the industry as the low bid came in at $516,000 with a 15% contingency for a two-year term, which equates to over one million dollars.
CIFAC remains vigilant in reminding public agencies of their duty to protect the tax payer's money. In this scenario, the Public Works Director's responsibility was to scrutinize all of the contract documents judiciously. CIFAC stays true to our Mission to increase and preserve public works opportunities for the construction industry. We don't play games, and we "call-out" acts of sleight of hand and fraud.