– Major changes are coming to Denver's contracting process. In a presentation to Denver's Independent Audit Committee today, Manager of Public Works Jose Cornejo outlined steps the department is taking to reform prequalification procedures for construction contracts.
The changes are designed to:
- More reliably ensure that bidders who are awarded contracts for city projects are capable of completing those projects successfully;
- Improve the quality of work on the projects;
- Create a better understanding of the root cause of change orders; and
- Bring the projects in on time and on budget.
The changes were spurred by a series of performance audits and other recommendations from Auditor Dennis Gallagher. One of those audits was briefed at the Committee today.
Gallagher, who also chairs the Audit Committee, said he believes the changes will make a real difference in improving the city’s bid and contract process and are a positive step forward in making city government work better and smarter.
“I believe these changes will mean savings for Denver taxpayers on our construction projects and improve the bid and contract process for Denver's contracting community and their employees,” Gallagher said.
“I want to commend the Mayor for his leadership on this and his commitment to improve the performance of city government. This is a prime example of that leadership,” Gallagher said. “But let me particularly commend Manager Cornejo. From day one at Public Works he has worked diligently not only on this process but in evaluating and addressing other issues as they arise. When he sees something that needs fixing or improving, he fixes it. We are privileged in Denver to have him as our head of Public Works.”
“Here at the City and County of Denver, we are working hard every day to deliver a lean, fiscally responsible operation,” Mayor Hancock said. “The collaboration between the Auditor’s Office and the Public Works Department to improve our prequalification process illustrates our commitment to finding efficiencies, eliminating redundancies and achieving cost savings. I applaud Auditor Gallagher, Manager Cornejo and their teams for not only identifying areas of improvement but for moving forward aggressively to address them.”
In awarding construction contracts, the city “prequalifies” contractors to bid on projects. In the past, city rules had placed some restrictions on what criteria could be considered in that prequalification process. The goal is to grant work to capable and highly qualified contractors to ensure successful project completion on time and on budget.
“Denver Public Works is a department continually striving for improvement and our staff did an outstanding job analyzing existing contracting processes and suggesting improvements that clarify current procedures and offer new opportunities for growth,” said Manager Cornejo. “We have been working with the Auditor’s Office to make necessary changes to create a more inclusive business environment and increase competition, while managing risk and providing taxpayers with the highest service levels possible.”
Under the new rules, factors considered will include past performance: whether any contracts have been terminated; whether surety has completed a project; whether the company has been debarred or suspended; and OSHA, criminal conviction, financial factors and litigation history.
Improvements to the prequalification process will include the creation of a project specific permission application to track and document contractor requests to bid on projects larger than they’ve worked on in the past; creating a checklist to document verification of a contractor’s prequalification criteria; and eliminating the requirement for notarized applications to facilitate a move toward on-line applications.
These changes are intended to give more contractors the opportunity to qualify and compete for city construction jobs, providing the city and residents a greater sense of confidence that contractors selected will complete that work successfully with the highest levels of service possible at competitive prices.
The new rules are to be adopted in December 2012 and will be effective in April 2013.