The North Bend Eagle


School contruction bid awarded to D.R. Anderson despite error

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 9/18/13

An error in filling out a bid form caused D.R. Anderson of Omaha to submit a lower construction bid to than it intended to.

After the North Bend Central Board of Education received assurances from D.R. Anderson that it would stand by its bid– error or not– it awarded the company a contract to build additions and renovations to the NBC high school and elementary buildings.

Not everyone at the Sept. 9 school board meeting was happy with the decision.
About a dozen area residents attended the meeting, with three people speaking against awarding the bid to Anderson. They expressed concern about awarding the contract to a company that made a mistake, rather than one who filled out the form correctly. They also worried that D.R. Anderson would cut corners or substitute cheaper materials to make up for its bid error.

The decision to award the bid to D.R. Anderson goes back to a special board meeting on August 29, when the bids were first opened. Ten general contractors submitted bids to take on the building project approved by a public vote this spring. Companies were asked to submit a base project bid as well as bids on nine optional projects that the board may or may not decide to include in the overall project.

The general contractors visited the high school on Aug. 29, wandering around the building as they talked on their phones getting last-minute bids from sub-contractors. It is common for sub-contractors to wait until the last minute to provide prices to prevent the general contractor from shopping for a lower bid.

“Bids are made in real time,” Bob Soukup said. “There are people on the phone adjusting numbers up to the last minute.”

Soukup is an architect with Carson West Provondra, the firm hired by NBC to oversee the project.

After the base bids were examined, the bids on the optional projects were then opened. Of the nine proposed options, the board chose seven of them to include in the project. Those options include: heating/air conditioning for the present gym; two separate upgrades to a total of four hallways; acoustic panels in the gym; new storage for athletic equipment; renovation of the front office, and upgrading of six rest rooms to ADA standards.

The two options not chosen by the board included upgrades in flooring in two different areas.

After the bids were opened, the companies with the two lowest bids were called and asked it they were still OK with their numbers.

D.R. Anderson had the lowest bid by about $107,100. But when the board called to verify its quote, the company realized there had been a mix up of numbers on the last two optional bids. The company readily admitted its mistake, but said they would stand behind the number they had submitted.

At the Aug. 29 meeting, the board voted 5-0 to award the contract to D.R. Anderson based on its bid of $6,600,700, pending a check of the company’s references. Board member Francis Emanuel abstained from voting because his brother, North Bend native Mike Emanuel, is the president of Meco-Henne, the company that submitted the second lowest bid. Had D.R. Anderson gotten its numbers in the correct spots on its bid, Meco-Henne would have had the lowest bid.

At the Sept. 9 meeting, the board decided to stand by its initial decision to award the bid to D.R. Anderson after checking references on the construction company.

“D.R. Anderson came back with excellent reviews,” board member Dan Wesely said. “It was hard for us to say let’s spend an extra $100,000 to get someone with local ties. We hope people knew this was not a quick decision. It was done with a great deal of thought.”

Wesely said members of the board had spent the ten days between meetings researching the company and talking about the bids in great detail. He also said that it was frustrating for the board because one of its members, Emanuel, couldn’t speak on the topic because of his family ties to one of the companies under consideration.

“He’s been a part of the process all along,” Wesely said. “We valued and missed his opinion.”

At the Sept. 9 meeting, Soukup read a letter that included references CWP had received on D.R. Anderson.

“Based on the reference checks and our prior experiences with D.R. Anderson, we have no reason to object to the Board of Education awarding them a contract based on their low bid,” Soukup said.

Superintendent Dan Endorf relayed positive references he had received personally, calling D.R. Anderson a “stellar” firm. Endorf had a lawyer in Omaha check some references, as well as Russ Koch, a facilities consultant in Fremont.

“The board has checks and balances in place through working with the facilities consultant, architect and owner representative,” Endorf said. “These three entities feel that we can complete the project with great quality and in a timely manner at the bid price D.R. Anderson offered.”

The board also feels confident in it decision to go with D.R. Anderson.

“We’re excited that we had ten bidders,” Wesely said. “It was very competitive. We feel we got the best bid for our dollar.”

In other business, the board considered an offer for document imaging service that would take all the paper records now stored in the vault and elsewhere at the high school and put them on CDs. After papers are scanned, they will be shredded.

The Nebraska Association of School Boards is working with a data storing company and is offering one district a 40 percent discount. The board voted to proceed with this opportunity.

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