Take two: Second round of proposals due today for flood recovery management contract

A new round of proposals was due at 3 p.m. today from firms interested in landing the big-budget contract to administer the state’s $1.6 billion flood recovery program.

This afternoon’s deadline came exactly two weeks after the state’s Office of Community Development, which oversees the program, decided to scrap the first round of procurement and restart the contract solicitation process because of a controversy over licensure requirements for the contractors.

All five teams that submitted proposals in February during the first round of procurement— IEM, PDRM, SLSCO, HGI and CB&I—were expected to compete for the contract again, though state officials could not confirm who had submitted documents as of 3 p.m.

Those documents will detail proposals for managing the program, which seeks to help homeowners rebuild after the March and August 2016 floods. Unlike bids, which are judged purely on cost, proposals are scored not only on cost but also on approach and methodology, experience and qualifications.

The makeup of the committee that will evaluate the proposals is different than that of the original selection committee. In a state legislative committee hearing last week, some lawmakers questioned the makeup of the original selection committee and suggested it lacked appropriate expertise. The new committee members include: Danny Mahaffey, assistant vice president and staff architect, LSU; Barry Hickman, a Kenner-based architect; Janice Lansing, CFO for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; Catherine Fairchild, an attorney for OCD; and Eddie Legnon,director of finance and administration for OCD Disaster Recovery.

In the first round of procurement, IEM outscored its competitors with a proposal that would’ve come to an estimated $250 million. Second-place finisher PDRM’s proposal was an estimated $315 million, while third-place SLSCO’s $350 million.

The state had already engaged in contract talks with IEM, when PDRM argued that IEM should be disqualified because it did not possess a residential contractor’s license at the time it submitted its proposal. A subsequent opinion by the staff attorney for the State Licensing Board for Contractors said both residential and commercial contractors licenses are required, which rendered both PDRM and IEM ineligible.

Though the SLBC does not have any authority over the flood recovery contract procurement, the dispute and the potential for litigation that could delay the program prompted state officials to throw out the first round of proposals and start over.

In the weeks since, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ political opponents, namely members of the state’s own congressional delegation, have used the procurement controversy to suggest the state is bumbling its ability to get federal flood recovery dollars to flood victims.

Congressional Republicans blasted Edwards in a partisan hearing earlier this week on Capitol Hill that was supposed to be about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response time but quickly devolved into a critique of the state’s flood response.

Edwards’s office fired back Thursday with a detailed outline of what the state has done so far. It noted that while the $1.6 billion has been approved for the state, a line of credit has yet to be established. As a practical matter, that means the state cannot yet begin issuing checks to flood victims.

State officials maintain that the new round of procurement has not delayed the $1.6 billion program, which is called Restore Louisiana. They plan to have a new contractor in place by Thursday.

—Stephanie Riegel

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