- The City of Denver wants to hear from construction and design firms interested in bidding on the design-build services for its $233 million Colorado Convention Center expansion, according to an April 1 solicitation on the city’s website. The city is also seeking a program manager for the project.
- This marks the official reboot of competitive bidding for the expansion since the city fired former program manager Trammell Crow in December amid allegations that a Trammell Crow employee improperly shared information about the bidding process with someone from Mortenson Construction, which was pursuing the contract for the project. The city has determined that neither firm is eligible to participate in the convention center expansion going forward, according to The Denver Post.
- Even though the city said design firm Fentriss Architects is not suspected of any wrongdoing, it will also be excluded from participating in the project in the interest of fairness. This will reportedly cost Fentriss $10 million in expected 2019 revenue.
Regarding the design-build contract, the city expects to issue a Request for Qualifications within the next few months and then a Request for Proposals sometime in the middle of the year. The winner, which will be chosen on a best-value basis, will provide preconstruction services, full design, construction and construction administration duties for 250,000 square feet of vertical construction and an overhaul of 120,000 square feet of the existing lobby.
Officials from Trammell Crow told Construction Dive in December that the alleged misconduct was the result of unauthorized actions of one employee, and Mortenson Construction said it had received “inappropriate” communications from a representative of Trammell Crow but denied there was any bid-rigging at play.
Large companies often set out rules and best practices for their employees to follow, but ultimately, those intent on gaming the system can likely find a way around policies that are intended to prevent illicit behavior.
For instance, former Turner Construction Co. and Bloomberg construction executives were charged last year with bribery and bid-rigging in relation to a renovation project at a Bloomberg building in Manhattan, even though both companies had controls in place they thought would prevent such behavior.
This is one of the reasons owners hire third-party construction project monitors. These individuals — or team of individuals, depending on the project size — act as an extra set of eyes and ears for the owner as they ensure that contractors have the right systems in place to prevent and detect fraudulent activity. Monitors then audit the project periodically for compliance with established controls.
Sometimes public agencies will require a contractor to take on a monitor. In these cases, the contractor usually has breached the agency's procurement rules in some way and hiring a monitor is a condition of either continuing work on a specific project or bidding on new work.