Six Companies Resolve Claims for Failing to Disclose Information on Their Prequalification Applications
"State agencies are not able to get a clear picture of what type of businesses they are dealing with if these applications are not fully completed," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "Whether a company adheres to environmental and worker safety laws and regulations is a necessary and important factor to consider in the prequalification process, and must be disclosed."
By statute, contractors must submit a prequalification application to MassDOT as a precondition to receiving work from MassDOT. This application must address the adequacy of plant and equipment, as well as the contractor's experience and organization. The prequalification application asks each contractor to list "any civil, criminal or administrative proceedings involving public contracts, safety, environmental laws or regulations including those of OSHA, EPA, DEP or any similar agency of any state." MassDOT relies on the accuracy of these prequalification applications, which are signed under oath, to ensure it retains contractors that adhere to the laws and regulations relating to or promulgated by OSHA, EPA, DEP and similar agencies.
In November 2009, MassDOT requested that certain prequalifying contractors explain apparent inaccuracies and omissions in their applications. In December 2009, MassDOT referred prequalification statements made by six contractors to the Attorney General's Office ("AGO") for further investigation. The AGO investigated the statements, focusing on their responsibility to report environmental and worker safety violations, and concluded that environmental and/or worker safety compliance information was inaccurate, and the contractors' safeguards for ensuring accuracy were insufficient.
"I want to thank the Attorney General and her team for their investigation and resulting action in this matter," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan. "Prequalifying contractors in the bid application process is critical to the work that we do. Our expectation is that contractors will be forthcoming and complete when submitting their applications. The settlements announced today show that there are consequences to not adhering to these standards."
Under the settlements, the six contractors agreed, without admitting any wrongdoing, to implement and maintain safeguards to ensure the accuracy of their prequalification applications, with particular regard to the laws or regulations relating to or promulgated by OSHA, EPA, DEP and similar agencies. The settlements also require payments reflecting investigative and related costs to the Commonwealth and the MassDOT in the total sum of $161,500 as follows: Aggregate Industries Northeast Region, Inc. $90,000; Lane Construction Corporation $60,000; P.J. Keating Company $5000; Liddell Brothers, Inc. $5000; H.M. Nunes and Sons Construction, Inc. $1500; and D&R General Contracting, Inc. (no payment required). The payments varied based on the number of reportable incidents that were allegedly not disclosed together with the quantity and value of the contractor's contracts with the Commonwealth. Each of the companies cooperated fully with the AGO's investigation.
This case was handled by Matthew Connolly, Assistant Attorney General in Attorney General Martha Coakley's Consumer Protection Division. Charles Rennick, Legal Counsel at MassDOT, lead the investigation on behalf of MassDOT.