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Rejected NY Painting Contract Back On

Friday, May 30, 2014

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A $4.7 million bridge painting contract rejected by New York State officials is back on, after the Department of Transportation said an independent monitor would watch over the contractor's payroll compliance.

The company will pay for the monitor. No estimate of that cost was disclosed.

Whitestone, NY-based Limnes Corp. had been awarded the contract to paint 13 bridges in Nassau and Suffolk counties, but State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli nixed the deal in March.

DiNapoli cited "serious concerns" about Limnes' connection with two companies debarred by the state for failing to pay prevailing wages and falsifying payroll records.

NYSDOT
NYCDOT / Fouad Althaibani via fhwa.dot.gov

New York officials have approved a previously rejected $4.7 million contract to paint 13 bridges after the DOT said it would have an independent monitor check on the contractor's compliance with wage laws.

The contract was given the green light Tuesday (May 27), after the DOT put an independent integrity monitor in place, DiNapoli's office announced.

Monthly Monitoring

The integrity monitor will report to the DOT each month on Limnes' compliance with state and federal wage laws, according to a letter from DiNapoli's office.

"After our rejection of this contract in March, DOT has taken the right step by requiring the contractor to hire, at the company's expense, a monitor to ensure all state and federal wage laws are followed," DiNapoli said.

The State Comptroller reviews and approves contracts for all state agencies and some for state public authorities.

The monitor contract allows Limnes to "terminate the monitor at Limnes's convenience"; however, the DOT bridge painting contract also allows the DOT "to terminate that contract for the best interest of the state."

Relationships, DOT Questioned

DiNapoli previously raised questions about Limnes' relationship with Matsos Contracting Corp. and its alter ego, GBE Contracting Corp. Both were banned in 2010 from doing business with the State of New York until 2015.

NY Comptroller
Office of the State Comptroller

"... DOT has taken the right step by requiring the contractor to hire, at the company's expense, a monitor to ensure all state and federal wage laws are followed," NY State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said.

In a letter sent to the DOT in March, the comptroller's office said its decision to deny the contract was influenced by "the inadequacy of the agency's review" and "unresolved questions" about Limnes' relationship to the debarred companies.

Limnes disclosed to the DOT its connection to Matsos, but not Matsos' debarment, as required. The DOT had access to the information showing that both companies had been debarred, according to DiNapoli's office.

"The Department of Transportation should have investigated Limnes' affiliations and had concrete answers before awarding this contract," DiNapoli said. "There are many companies competing for work right now, and the state should make certain that it puts public projects into the hands of companies that will follow the rules."

Monitors 'Not Common'

The DOT will "provide the necessary oversight for the Limnes contract, ensure an open line of communication between DOT and the monitor, and, if necessary, take steps to terminate the Limnes contract," the comptroller's office said in its approval letter.

DiNapoli said, "This shows the process works and taxpayers are protected. DOT officials have also given us assurance that they will carefully manage this contract and make sure the monitor provides timely oversight and reporting."

Twitter / @NYSDOT

The integrity monitor will report to the DOT each month on Limnes' compliance with state and federal wage laws, according to DiNapoli's office.

Jennifer Freeman, a spokesperson for DiNapoli's office, told Long Island Newsday that internal monitors for contracts "are not common, but that they are a solution when state officials are hesitant about a company's track record."

Last year, DiNapoli's office approved a $5.9 million contract with Limnes for painting and rust removal on Long Island bridges, according to Long Island Newsday.

Freeman said that information submitted by the DOT for that contract appeared complete, which was not the case this year.

"If we had known what we do today, we would have likely rejected the contract last year," Freeman said.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Contractors; Contracts; Department of Transportation (DOT); Ethics; Painters

Comment from Tony Rangus, (5/30/2014, 9:29 AM)

Is it legal for all the employees of a debarred company to go to work for another company that has contracts with the State DOT? Or is it just a personal ethics thing?


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