The General Services Agency first yanked the Guam International Airport Authority’s purchasing and procurement authority and on March 15 said it would start the bidding all over again on the disputed lucrative custodial maintenance contract GSA will reissue an invitation to bid 23 months after the first invitation was issued on June 2002.
The news came as a welcome surprise one custodial maintenance company — Advance Management Inc. — which has held over eight years. For about 30 months AMI has been working on a month-to-month basis while airport officials tried time after time to work through the procurement process to secure a new permanent contract to clean and maintain Guam’s largest building.
GSA revoked the airport’s purchasing authority on Dec. 31 2003 after procurement officials felt the authority had demonstrated that it could not put out an invitation to bid package that was workable and reasonable in its scope.
Monty A. McDowell general manager and president of Advance Management the current holder of the $1.2 million a year custodial contract told the Journal that the multi-step invitation to bid process had been flawed from the beginning. McDowell had filed numerous protests on the most recent attempt to find a vendor to provide services after the contract had run its course. After the first three years of services and two additional option contract years had expired on Sept. 2001 Advance Management began the month-to-month cleaning contract on Oct. 1 2001.
McDowell’s latest protest — filed Feb. 25 with William R. Thompson former executive manager at the airport — said “There have been several instances of apparent improprieties and irregularities which has compromised the integrity of the bidding process.”
McDowell noted four areas of protest. The most major claimed that during the Phase II step of the process the sealed price bid was not opened publicly. He referenced the bid rules as set forth by Guam procurement laws that stated “Bids and modifications shall be opened publicly in the presence of one or more witnesses at the time date and place designated in the Invitation for Bid.”
McDowell said it is common practice under Guam procurement regulations that the name of each bidder the bid price and such other information as is deemed appropriate by the Procurement Officer shall be read aloud or otherwise made available. In this instance procedure was not followed when company representatives went to the price bid opening on Feb. 25.
The first phase of the multistep process involved technical representations from bidders to ensure that a company was qualified to perform the work if they were selected in the Phase II pricing phase.
McDowell’s protest noted that he was surprised to see Jesse Q. Torres member of the airport’s board of directors and former executive manager of the airport under the Ada administration during the bid process. McDowell said in the protest “His direct involvement and extensive questioning of our presentation team is surprising and unusual for a board member who may be reviewing [possible] protest(s) of the bid to be an active participant in the actual bidder’s interview process.”
McDowell said in his opinion Torres was attending because “This board is a micro-managing board not a policy-making board. If you were to talk to Bill Thompson you would find that he felt he was relegated to chasing payments to vendors and was not being allowed to manage Guam’s gateway to tourism and could not make a move without the board’s permission — so it wasn’t surprising that we learned of his abrupt resignation on March 10.”
McDowell said he was particularly surprised to be asked by Jean A. Meno airport administrator to reconsider Advance Management’s intention and not to submit a protest. McDowell makes it a point to say that this request occurred on Feb. 26 the day after bid prices were gathered by airport officials but not publicly opened.
Under Thompson’s managership it was his intention to “spread the business” around so that more companies might benefit from the lucrative contract and had ordered that the re-issue be based on three separate areas of the airport. Those were the basement the public area and the concourse.
A company was only allowed to bid on one area and could not bid on another according to the bid package.
“It is just crazy to divide the airport up ” McDowell said. “I told board Chairman Frank Blas before the bid came out that they had tried this once before and it was stupid. There are too many security concerns and vendors would be arguing with each other.”
However the action by the airport that most upset McDowell were he said that the airport appeared to have no hesitancy “through accident or intent ” to “release the result of the bid opening not officially but apparently through the ‘rumor mill.’ This means that our employees were made aware that other firms had won the bid before AMI was even formally advised.”
McDowell called the move unprofessional. “It reflects a sense that in spite of seven-and-a-half years of stalwart and professional performance AMI had no further standing with GIAA and thus was not even deserving of simple respect.”
Claudia S. Acfalle chief procurement officer for the General Services Agency told the Journal “McDowell is absolutely correct in his protest and this thing about the rumor going about that they [GIAA] had already made this determination before an actual award was made is wrong and absolutely inappropriate in itself so that — along with other reasons — is why I am killing it and starting all over.”
Acfalle said the airport did not have a choice in the matter. “It is my determination as chief procurement officer and it has to be followed. It is [under] my signature now. I am watching out for this as well as other problems that I am finding throughout the procurement process that need a revamping.”
Acfalle said the technical phase of the re-issued request for proposals would be simplified. “What is so technical about cleaning toilets? This time we will do the specifications and if the requirements are met then price will be the bottom line.”
She said dividing the cleaning contract into three was illogical. “That is ridiculous. It will only drive the cost up. And think of all the security issues — particularly in this era of threat environments and elevated consciousness. It is just going to be the best qualified with the lowest price — end of story.”
Acfalle said she intends to revamp and streamline the entire government of Guam’s procurement processes in the next few months. “There are just too many areas where procedures are not being followed and it’s time for someone to step in and establish credibility for both the government and with vendors.”
There were five other companies involved with the invitation to bid process. Those were JJ Janitorial Maids to Order Service Master Guam Inc. 4E’s Inc. and Unlimited Services Guam.
Service Master Guam Inc. has bid on the GIAA Janitorial three times and had potential winning bids each time.
Reynald Del Carmen president of Service Masters Guam Inc. said “The whole process has been frustrating to say the least and am concerned on the month-to-month contract with AMI who is actually on their 7th /8th year. Contractors are putting bids for almost half of what the airport is paying AMI now.’ MBJ