On day before MovEBR contracts vote, Metro Council facing resident questions

On the eve of the Metro Council likely approving two MovEBR program manager contracts—collectively valued at $13.1 million and split among 16 firms—council members are still getting questions from residents concerned about the program’s efficiency.

One of the more detailed inquiries came this morning from Phillip Fetterman, a retired local engineer who outlined in an email to council members his lingering concerns about the contract awards. Among them:

  • Why is this work being split into two contracts, when similar programs have cost more and been managed by one company?
  • The scope of work for both contracts—particularly the enhancements contract—seems to not be well-defined. Does this mean the work will likely turn into much larger contracts, including numerous change orders?
  • How much money will be spent on project management over the life of the program?

Fetterman goes on to raise more than a dozen other questions or concerns about the contracts, while also stating his belief that while the advertised cost of MovEBR is $1.2 billion, the actual cost, when considering a 2% escalation factor, will check in at $1.8 billion.

Dividing duties into two separate contracts quickens the process, says Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelvin Hill, allowing one firm to handle smaller projects while the other tackles larger projects. Moreover, Hill argues the scope of each program manager’s work is clearly defined, adding as the 70 projects are prioritized, the companies will clearly define each on an individual basis.

Doreen Brasseaux, president and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Louisiana (of which some of the firms involved with the contracts are members), says language in the contracts give the program managers the flexibility needed to execute projects in the most efficient way possible. 

Despite Fetterman’s assertion the program would end with a nearly $2 billion price tag, the city-parish still expects it to cost $1.2 billion, as advertised.

While councilman Matt Watson plans to vote in favor of both contracts, he wants to know how CSRS and Stantec determined which subcontractors to select.

“Was it an internal bid process? Did they just know each other professionally?” Watson says. “I want to know as much as I can about who these project managers are going to use … but at the same time, I think we need to move forward with what taxpayers approved.”

Councilman Dwight Hudson also expects to OK the contracts, saying there’s been a clear line of communication between the Metro Council and city-parish officials handling the program.

However, Councilwoman Chauna Banks is raising concerns about what she says is a lack of diversity in 16 firms selected for the program, noting that less than $1 million of the $13 million is going to minority-owned firms. Wanting to take a deeper look into the contract, she says she might move to defer tomorrow night’s vote to a later date.

Councilmembers Barbara Freiberg, Tara Wicker, Scott Wilson, Denise Amoroso, LaMont Cole and Erika Green did not respond to requests for comment before this afternoon’s deadline.

To read a recent column from Editor Stephanie Riegel on the MovEBR contracts, click here

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