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Company Fights For Construction Contract

A District-based construction company is continuing a fight to get a multi-million dollar contract to build the District's long-awaited forensics laboratory though D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has picked a Baltimore-based rival and even held a ribbon cutting for the project.

Tompkins Builders of the District is hoping the D.C. Council will propose a disapproval resolution that would prevent the Fenty administration from following through on a $133 million contract with competitor Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

Tompkins offered to complete the project for $4.8 million less than Whiting-Turner. "We gave the city their best value at a much lower price," said James Tolbert, the company's vice president.

Lobbyists for Tompkins are trying to get council members to intervene, but members have been reluctant because the lab has been delayed so many times. As of today, there's no disapproval resolution on tomorrow's agenda. A few council members, including Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), have asked for an explanation from the administration, particularly since Tompkins offered a lower bid.

According to city documents, contracting officers gave Whiting-Turner the edge because the company had experience in constructing a lab and in building environmentally-friendly projects. Tompkins argued that its parent company, Turner Construction, met those criteria and contracting officers should have considered them.

The city's Contract Appeals Board backed Tompkins' argument in an opinion in May: "Having reviewed the record, we find that the contracting officer's determination to exclude Tompkins from the competition because it did not satisfy the special standards of responsibility was unreasonable and irrational."

Tolbert said both companies scored in the 90s when they were evaluated. "At the end of the day, if Michelle Rhee were giving us an evaluation, she would give both of us an A," he said.

Mafara Hobson, Fenty's spokeswoman, said in an e-mail, "There were several technical evaluating criteria including ability, experience, cost and work quality that were used to determine the winning bid."

By Nikita R Stewart  |  July 13, 2009; 10:59 AM ET
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Anyone know who has contributed what to the Mayor's reelection? I know developers have been help building his warchest.

Posted by: qaz2 | July 13, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Aren't they bidding on constructing established design plans or is this a design-build? I've never heard of a $4 million difference losing unless the contractor has a horrible record with the City or current litigation. this one could get real messy.

Posted by: oknow1 | July 13, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Sounds good to me, the city spent 600 million plus on a stadium, 48 million plus left via the department of revenue scam, why not spend 4 million plus on the highest bidder. Just the District of Corruption in action folks! Remember Fenty and those up for re-election next time around.

Posted by: arclight69 | July 13, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

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