Committee Approves New Review Process for Contractors

New five-member Contractor Performance Review Committee would have the ability to disqualify a firm from bidding on city work for up to two years.

Nov. 12--NEW HAVEN -- The aldermanic Legislation Committee voted unanimously Monday to approve a new contractor review process, amending the initial proposal to include not just construction contracts, but all bids of more than $50,000.

Aldermen also voted to expand the review panel from three members to five, and to change the name of the board from a "tribunal" to the Contractor Performance Review Committee.

The proposal now goes to the full Board of Aldermen for review.

Currently, the city has no formal process to evaluate and disqualify sub-par contractors. Even if a contractor has performed shoddy work or has gone over budget, if they are the low bidder on a subsequent project, the city may be forced to award them the job.

Purchasing Agent Michael Fumiatti said the city has had problems with contractors not paying the prevailing wage, hiring undocumented workers, and completing work late. While Fumiatti did not provide details of specific cases at Monday's hearing, he said a recent job that should have taken six weeks dragged on for more than four months.

In another case, the same contractor, who was not identified, praised by one city project manager as "stellar" has caused another to "pull her hair out," he said.

With no formal process for documenting contractor malfeasance, the city has had difficulty identifying sub-par contractors and has no mechanism for avoiding those contractors in the future, according to Fumiatti.

The new proposal would establish a five-member Contractor Performance Review Committee (initially dubbed the "tribunal") with the ability to disqualify a firm from bidding on city work for up to two years.

The proposal had called for a panel consisting of the city's economic development administrator, chief administrative officer and purchasing agent. Aldermen Monday voted to expand that panel to include one alderman and one citizen. The citizen seat would be comprised of a pool of alternates allowing members to recuse themselves should a conflict of interest arise. The president of the Board of Aldermen would pick the alderman to sit on the review panel and the mayor would pick the citizen member.

The proposal also would create a new performance evaluation system for contracts of more than $50,000, where the city project manager would review timeliness, quality of work, costs, accuracy of billing, safety and code compliance, among other criteria.

Professional services, including architectural, legal and engineering contracts, would not be subject to the new evaluation process, as they are selected through requests for proposals, rather than bids. In requests for proposals, the city is not required to accept the lowest bidder.

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