AECOM, CH2M Hill Sewer Job Battle Is A Question of Arithmetic

The $1.6-billion Miami-Dade sewer repair project has produced a steady flow of controvery as public officials changed the rules for competitors for the prime contract and the two finalists clashed over the accuracy of their stated qualifications.

Where the sales work by the finalists ends, and unethical misrepresentation begins, is hard to tell at this point. Some of it concerns simple math that ought to be easy to agree on.

After the first two, originally planned presentations by the competitors, CH2M Hill and AECOM, Miami-Dade’s selection committee recommended that the county award the project to CH2M Hill, which earned the 552 qualitative points.

AECOM had earned 448 qualitative points.

That much was pretty straightforward.

The number of presentation each competitors was allowed to make turned out to be less straightforward. Originally it was supposed to be just two.

When Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R) ordered a third round of presentations, the winner and runner-up reversed positions and AECOM came out ahead. Gimenez must now decide which company to recommend for the contract.

The biggest bone of contention has been the number of Environmental Protection Agency consent-decree clean-up programs on which AECOM has served as prime contractor.

In a presentation to the Mayor’s Advisory Committee, AECOM’s prospective project manager, David Haywood, was asked how many consent decrees AECOM has been the prime on nationally.

“It is my recollection,” CH2M Hill’s attorney quotes Haywood as replying, “I’ll ask [AECOM Senior Vice President] Paul [DeKeyser] to correct me if I’m wrong here, but over 20 of these consent decrees we’ve been the actual prime on, if not more.”

At that point Ch2M HIll’s attorney quotes DeKeyser as saying, “I think it’s about 28. Prime, 28.”

If CH2M Hill’s account of the conversation is accurate, the number 28 is intriguing. CH2m Hill says it participated as prime or sub in 28 EPA-ordered consent decree programs under the Clean Water Act.

CH2M Hill’s attorney, Albert Dotson Jr., wrote to Gimenez that AECOM’s claim about the prime contracts had violated the country’s rules relating to the false statement before a selection committee.

Dotson produced a list of EPA consent decrees under the Clean Water Act, based parttly on information on an EPA website, that shows that CH2M Hill had served as the prime on nine consent decree projects and played a supporting role on 19 others.

Exactly 28 projects, altogether.

AECOM’s representative didn’t want to discuss the details, but said only that the firm was “selected purely by qualifications.”