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USACE-NWO announces new contract process to speed up levee repair awards

Published July 11, 2019
Crews pump water to keep an access road in Peru, Nebraska, from overtopping.

Crews pump water to keep an access road in Peru, Nebraska, from overtopping.

OMAHA, Neb. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Omaha District is rolling out an innovative contracting methodology to expedite the process of awarding contracts for repairing levees damaged by the spring floods. The new method will increase USACE’s ability to ensure that only capable, vetted contractors have the ability to bid these projects.

Traditionally, firm-fixed priced contracts are required to be awarded to the lowest bidder based on a comparably low set of requirements. The new method will allow USACE to delve deeper into past performance, experience and bonding capacity of contractors in order to better determine which ones are technically acceptable for the job. This will ensure that only proven, capable contractors are the ones repairing or replacing critical infrastructure, with the expectation that their work expectation that their work will be meet the contract required quality and schedule criteria, while reducing the risk of delays and claims caused by less than competent construction contractors. Those contractors determined to meet these requirements will be placed on a Prequalified Sources List. Only contractors on the PSL will be allowed to submit bids for fixed-price levee repair projects.

Additionally, the new method can drastically reduce the time between having the engineering and design completed, and the contract being awarded. Previously, USACE was required to push out a pre-solicitation announcement 15 calendar days prior to a mandated 30 calendar day solicitation period eginning. Now contractors will typically have14 days during the solicitation period to submit their bids with no separate pre-solicitation notice. This will allow for quicker response times in order to expedite repairs. The contractors on the PSL will also receive a copy of the draft drawings and specifications while the project design is being finalized.

This innovative procedure, allowed by Federal Acquisition Regulations, is a first for the Omaha District and was spearheaded by Chief of Contracting Ginger Gruber.

“Utilization of a Prequalification of Sources List is an innovative acquisition approach that will allow Omaha District to expedite award of construction contracts for flood recovery, while still providing maximum opportunity for local and small businesses to compete for the work,” she said. “It's a great way for us to ensure we have open lines of communication with a pool of qualified contractors that are prepared to quickly execute this important mission.”

The PSL will have set-asides for small businesses and, as required by the Stafford Act, local area set-asides will be used to fill the majority, if not all, of the projects with local contractors as much as possible. This will keep the funds within the designated disaster area and help stabilize the local economies after such disasters. Local contractors are able to mobilize to the project quicker to begin repairs and have existing relationships with local subcontractors and suppliers that increases their effectiveness and ability to be successful.

This change to the way contracts are solicited and awarded will allow for those affected by such natural disasters to get back to normal sooner. Construction contractors interested in being on the PSL need to go to the Federal Business Opportunities website at www.fbo.gov and search for solicitation number W9128F19R0064 which was posted on July 2, 2019.  While the announcement will be open for the next 36 months, the initial PSL will be prepared after 30 calendar days. The list of 28 currently identified construction contracts that will utilize the PSL is shown on the website. Those contractors outside the disaster designation area are also encouraged to apply. If during the course of soliciting contracts sufficient number of reasonable bids are not received, the local area set-aside may be waived.

Release no. 19-094