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Spanish company says its proposal would have seen facility built for $39 million less and completed a year sooner
Opposition transportation critic Barry Petten says he’s concerned about reports that a company bid $39 million less for the contract to build the new adult mental-health and addictions hospital, but did not get the contract.
On July 28, the Avalon Healthcare Partnership was awarded a $330-million contract to build the new mental-health and addictions hospital in St. John's.
That bid is $39 million more expensive than a bid put forward by Spanish-based Sacyr Infrastructure Canada.
Documents released by the Progressive Conservative party show a letter written to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure on July 31 from Sacyr director Javier Martinez-Caflavate, in which the company expresses concern about the contract award.
“If everything turns out to be above board, OK, that’s fine. But right now... we don’t know if that’s the case.”— Barry Petten
“We were surprised to learn that (the) winning proposal... (had) a net present value $39 million (13.4 per cent) higher than ours and pledged to complete construction an entire year later, according to the remarks during the award announcement,” reads the letter.
“In a time of economic uncertainty and with the ever-present budgetary constraints faced by local and provincial governments, this is a tangible and material difference.”
Petten, referring to a story first published by allNewfoundlandLabrador.com, says he is concerned by the award.
“If the number two builder was $39 million cheaper, they scored highest on that part of the 50 per cent scoring ratio. They were a year earlier, that means they scored highest in the 10 per cent factor. So, 60 per cent of the matrix, they won outright,” said Petten.
“We’re looking for details on the rest of it, which we don’t have. Do we know this was done fairly? We don’t.”
A statement from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure says the procurement process does not allow lobbyists to influence the awarding of contracts, and a rigorous evaluation process went toward deciding which company got the contract.
"Review and scoring of the technical submissions by the evaluation committee was supported by teams of professionals and subject matter experts, including doctors, nurses and engineers (totalling about 65 individuals), who provided expert advice on specific aspects of the submissions,” reads the statement
“Only the evaluation committee reviewed all aspects of technical and cost submission in their entirety.”
Optimus SPR, a management consultant company based in Toronto, was brought on as an independent fairness adviser to the government on the awarding of the contract. A letter was sent from the company to the government on Aug. 26 saying the contract award was fair.
“We certify that the principles of openness, fairness, consistency and transparency have been, in our opinion, properly established and maintained throughout the procurement process and all proponents treated consistently in the evaluation process and in accordance with the project RFP. Furthermore, we were not aware of any issues that emerged during the process that would have impaired the fairness of this initiative."
Petten says he’s seen the fairness report as well, but he still wants to see more details of the award.
“Based on the facts they're using to decide, it appeared to be fine, it appeared to be fair,” he said. “I’m not disputing that, but I’m saying if we had all the documents, all the information in front of us, let everyone have a view.”
Petten says the situation raises his eyebrows, but he hopes his concerns will be proven incorrect.
“If everything turns out to be above board, OK, that’s fine,” he said.
“But right now, based on what I’m seeing and the public are seeing, we don’t know if that’s the case.”