NTTA board votes 5/4 to abandon rebid of services contracts

August 8, 2010

NTTA's board of directors last week voted 5/4 against proceeding with rebids of long established services contracts  at a special board meeting August 5. Five consulting or services contracts expire this year and procurement was under way with staff recommending three major changes. Instead, as it has for many years, NTTA will simply renegotiate the extension of the existing contracts with existing contractors.

The board decision not to proceed puts the kibosh on these staff recommended procurements:

- replacement of HNTB by PBSJ as general engineering consultant

- replacement of Wilbur Smith Associates by C&M Associates as traffic and revenue consultant

- replacement of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell by several smaller firms to be hired on an as-needed basis

Also no longer to be contested are contracts for financial adviser held by RBC Capital Markets and by bond counsel McCall Parkhurst & Horton.

The vote was taken without significant public discussion.

Minority critics said the majority had formed relationships with existing contractors and didn't want any changes. They didn't like the results of the competition.

Majority members deny that and said staff had messed up the procurements by proceeding too fast. They claimed that they had no objection to changing consultants in better implemented competitions.

Chairman Paul Wageman who last year supported the competitive procurement was a swing vote again proceeding. His relationship with CEO Allen Clemson who was in charge of the procurements has to be a difficult one now.

NTTA general counsel John Dahill challenged the legality of the vote at the meeting saying the agenda item for the board meeting only related to the HNTB-PBS&J changeover. Chairman Wageman said the board had authority to act on all five and proceeded to call the vote.

The abandonment of the procurements has to be seen as a blow to the credibility of NTTA as a fair organization to do business with. And it provides ammunition to critics of the authority who say its leadership has an unhealthy relationship with established contractors. The closeness of the vote suggests there will be further contention.

COMMENT: This smells bad.

TOLLROADSnews 2010-08-08

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