The group managing the $2.3 billion Ohio River Bridges Project has voted to restart the bidding process for a tolling provider. The Kentucky-Indiana board says a conflict of interest with a subcontractor was “substantial enough” to cancel the initial selection. October 24, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ken. – The Kentucky-Indiana Joint Board for the Ohio River Bridges Project voted today to restart the procurement of a tolling services provider. The vote comes after the Indiana Finance Authority's review of a protest submitted by a non-winning bidder in late September.
Today the Joint Board heard from the IFA that the allegations made in the protest were unsubstantiated. But the agency did uncover a significant potential personal and organizational conflict of interest regarding financial arrangements between a subcontractor of the preferred proposer and a subcontractor of the Joint Board's toll advisor. The conflict of interest and the appearance of impropriety it creates were substantial enough that the joint board voted to terminate and restart the procurement.
“The best ethical and objective path forward is to cancel the existing procurement and reset the process,” said Kendra York, director of the IFA. “While there was no evidence that the conflict of interest actually influenced the procurement decision, we owe it to the people of Indiana and Kentucky to safeguard their confidence in the process.”
York said prior proposing parties will be allowed to participate in the restart process “without disqualification or prejudice” as a result of the procurement cancellation.
“We have been committed to transparency throughout this project, and that includes our procurement processes,” said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock. “The issue at hand is a conflict of interest, which has now been removed. The restart of the toll system provider procurement can now begin, and we will keep the project on schedule.”
The potential conflict of interest existed between ClearStrategy Consulting LLC., subcontractor to Computer Aid Inc. (CAI), the tolling advisor hired by the Joint Board, and Gude Management Group, LLC., a subcontractor on the Kapsch TrafficCom proposal.
The Joint Board will remove CAI as its toll advisor and appoint Parsons Transportation Group as the new interim toll advisor. CAI will serve out an amended contract, which is limited to transitioning the advising role to Parsons and completing certain tasks unrelated to the procurement. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will establish a new procurement to secure a new, long-term toll advisor.
The IFA requires full disclosure of known conflicts of interest. Board officials do not believe that Kapsch knew of the conflict of interest between its subcontractor and CAI's subcontractor.
Board officials also believe the restart will not affect the anticipated start date for tolling.
The Joint Board has overall oversight responsibility for the $2.3 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, which entails two new crossings between the Louisville, Kentucky, area and southern Indiana. The board comprises the secretaries of the Kentucky Transportation and Finance and Administration cabinets, the Indiana finance director and the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Highways.
The Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project addresses cross-river transportation needs in Louisville, Kentucky and Southern Indiana and will result in safer travel, less congestion and improved access to destinations in the region.
Source: The Indiana Department of Transportation and The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet