GCAO fights against unfair tendering practices

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            Committee speaks out against onerous supplementary general conditions

Ottawa Construction News staff writer

            The General Contractors Association of Ottawa (GCAO) advocates for members about tender and bidding practices. When members discover unfair or inappropriate tender requirements, they can work through the association to raise their concerns – avoiding individual repercussions, while creating a fair competitive environment.

            “In 2012, we continued to see numerous uses of onerous and superfluous supplementary general conditions (SGC) and I applaud all of the member firms who forwarded these to our attention and action,” OGCA president Michael Nicolini, the association’s 2012 tendering practices committee chair, said in a report to the GCAO annual meeting. “We need to continue to collectively stand up against their use.”

            The committee tackled these issues:

Ottawa Catholic School Board – Cambrian Catholic Elementary School

            “The GCAO made representation in this tender where multiple supplementary general conditions were present,” Nicolini said in his report.  “Although the SGCs present had been agreed to on previous tenders, it was felt that our involvement in this tender was beneficial to our membership by reminding this board that we are continuing to monitor the SGCs they include in their tenders.”

PGWSC – Mock up tenth floor, east tower

            In this case, PGSWC included a requirement for each general contractor to submit a carpet sample with their tender package.  This requirement was only included in the sample section of the carpet specification, not in the main instruction to bidders.  Thirteen of 14 bidders were disqualified because they failed to meet the requirement.  “PWGSC agreed this tender requirement was not typical but confirmed that their legal department advised them to proceed in issuing a contract to the only compliant bidder.”

Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation – Building 94 retrofit

            This tender included a 20 per cent technical and 80 per cent pricing portion.  “Furthermore, with the assistance of MHPM, the tender included 63 pages of supplementary general conditions,” Nicolini reported.

            “Following discussion with the GCAO, the museum corporation maintained the 20 per cent/80 per cent split however provided each GC a few days to prepare the technical portion of the bid (20 per cent) prior to the actual bid submission (80 per cent). Furthermore, in a meeting with MHPM, the GCAO was able to reduce the number of SGCs on the project by half.”

            Nicolini said the GCAO members discovered other challenges with the project’s pre-qualification process, because four of the 10 bidders did not prequalify.  “After further investigation, it became apparent that by advising the 10 bidders through addendum that they could submit a bid, MHPM was not prequalifying them, just confirming that they had to submit the pre-qualification portion and were permitted to submit their bid,” he wrote.  “Although seemingly unfair, the GCAO could not provide any further tendering practices representation as this project had in fact closed.  It was the decision of the bidders to determine whether there was merit in taking legal action against the museum corporation.

            Nicolini said the GCAO is scheduling a meeting with the museum corporation “to determine a mutually agreeable way to proceed with future tenders.”

Conseil des ecoles catholique du centre-est – Barrhaven School

            “The GCAO responded to members concerns regarding the requirements to submit a 20 per cent/80 per cent tender as well as the multiple pages of SGCs,” Nicolini wrote.  “The CECCE stated that they would provide a formal response to the GCAO. In the meantime, the project closed without any amendments.”  The GCAO is looking forward to a meeting with the school board on the mater.

            GCAO tendering practice committee members included Spencer Hagan, Michael Assal, Hubie Splinter, Shawn Argue and Michael Nicolini.


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