Accompanied by SNC-Lavalin, the Drinking Water Branch of the City of Montreal has awarded a 24.6 million to a tenderer who should have been disqualified, according to a survey of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) . More disturbing, this agent has tried to “trick” the Inspector General forging a date on a document requested during the investigation.
As Montrealers could “best product at the best price” BIG terminated the contract today. The official opposition at City Hall for its request that the case be transferred to the UPAC.
This tender was to replace aging pump the Atwater plant, which supplies drinking water to almost half of the population of Montreal. Initially, 20 companies have shown interest in this lucrative contract, but in the end, only five submitted bids.
After opening the envelopes, none of the five bids were deemed consistent since the pump type required by the City did not exist on the market.
According to the Head of Division and the engineer of record, the Drinking Water Branch wanted to avoid having to start the process, a situation she had just live in a tender for the tank drinking water Rosemont.
A special committee made up of representatives of the City and SNC-Lavalin was then established. The SNC-Lavalin engineering firm was commissioned by the city to design the technical specifications in this project, but also to provide support to the City throughout the tender process.
After a few meetings, only the third lowest bidder, Xylem has been declared compliant. Xylem proposed an oil cooling system of the engines of different pumps of others, but that was not the one requested in the estimate.
“When the work provider does not reject a bid that does not meet a requirement specified as fundamental in the tender, it is the integrity of the contracting process which is affected,” says Mr. Denis Gallant in his 65-page report released today at the City Council.
At the center of this case, also based filing a letter of recommendation certifying the reliability of the pumps, a criterion originally required to win the contract. Three companies which Xylem, have never filed such a letter. This absence was deemed to be a “minor non-compliance” with the special committee, a “mistake” by BIG.
“Although some may think that the failure to provide the letter is merely a defect in shape and it is only a simple letter, one must understand the consequences of accepting an unacceptable submission .. . Some companies that have taken possession of the specifications may have decided not to bid in the tender for the sole reason that reading the tender documents, they believed not be able to provide the required letter, “wrote Mr. Gallant’s report.
Strangely, when the BIG contacted bidders for a copy of their letter of recommendation or explain the reason for this omission, Xylem has sent a letter she pre-dated to June 2014, when the letter had in fact was drafted in September 2015, fifteen months later.
Called to respond, the mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, praised for creating the inspector general. “The process works, we have someone who raises the flag, I think it’s reassuring for tax payers”, said he was in a media scrum at City Hall. He said 1.4 million had already been spent by the City in this contract.