Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No-Bid Contracts Breed No Confidence

Dan Bice discloses that the Wisconsin DOT and Milwaukee County both awarded big no-bid inspection contracts to the same engineering firm in the wake of failures in structures that belong to these units of government.

Graef-USA got nearly $1 million from the County and state to inspect the Hoan Bridge and also to separately inspect County buildings; pieces of the Hoan Bridge have been dropping off and a slab of decorative concrete fell from the facade of the O'Donnell parking structure onto a group of people as Summerfest opened last month, killing a teenage boy.

Graef-USA may well be the best contractor for these jobs.

What is questionable is the competition-free arrangement by which governments gave the company these jobs - - made further questionable by political donations the company has given to both County Executive Walker, a Republican running for Governor, and to incumbent Governor Jim Doyle, as Bice reports.

The governments have their explanations: the state has a so-called master contract in place with Graef-USA, awarded competitively, while Milwaukee County wanted to move quickly in the wake of the fatal collapse to get its other buildings inspected.

Here's the problem: the Hoan Bridge has had a history of cracking and worse, and the County Courthouse lost a chunk of concrete a few months ago.

But neither unit of government has a contracting and construction track record that it can brag about, so you'd think that spending more taxpayer dollars and getting things inspected and fixed would be carried out also to reassure a nervous public.

No-bid contracting involving public dollars, public structures, problematic infrastructure and politically-active businesses flubs that part of the assignment.

A pox on everyone's house.


Anonymous said...

And so does city of Milwaukee governance.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am mistaken, but isn't post of yours Mr. Rowen inconsistent with your previous vigorous defending of Gov. Doyle's no-bid contract with Talgo for the trains?

Or am I missing something?

James Rowen said...

Doyle's train purchase was consistent with federal law, creates jobs and positions the state for the high-speed rail plan. I find no fault with it.