The AOC announces new maintenance contractors

Posted on May 20, 2011

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Yesterday the AOC released its list of contractors for the “deal of the decade” facilities maintenance contract.

The good news is that the courts under Bay Area/Northern California regional office will be having Enovity service their account. Enovity is a seasoned building management specialist and a long term, properly licensed contractor that maintains the Civic Center plaza buildings for DGS. In addition, Enovity maintains several federal GSA buildings. Enovity, who has performed commissioning and verification work for the AOC is not known for unconscionable pricing. When Enovity conducts a study, you can take that study to the bank knowing it wasn’t pulled off the internet a few days previous and submitted as their own work.

In addition to the BANCRO award, Pride Industries was awarded the NCRO region and ABM (of “Team Jacobs” fame) got themselves properly licensed and was awarded the SRO region, eliminating the middleman that had no boots on the ground working in the trial courts – Jacobs. All three entities are properly licensed with Pride and ABM getting all of their licensing together recently.

Who is out? While the two unlicensed contractors suits wind their way through the court system against Jacobs Facilities, Inc, Jacobs Project Management Co, Jacobs Engineering Group, Aleut and AGS, they are out of the race and out of the contract.

Most experts agree that the AOC drastically limited their pool of potential bidders with an initial RFP that only Jacobs really qualified for. It was only after the AOC received letters of intent and we here at JCW blasted the RFP as a sham that the AOC amended the RFP to something less egregious and more legal. Unfortunately for the taxpayers, most of the most qualified companies in California opted out of this RFP due to the initial RFP. When one sees that it appears an RFP has been custom written for one of your rival bidders, you’re less inclined to dump hundreds of hours formulating a bid package, which is what ultimately happened. We speculate it was an avalanche of complaints received and a pending investigation by the contractors state licensing board that gave the AOC new religion and took Jacobs and AGS out of the race altogether. If it was the lawsuits against the unlicensed contractors that was slowing the AOC down, then they never would have permitted these previous vendors to progress to the final stage. An announced independent investigation by the contractors state licensing board was likely the wake-up call of sorts for the Judicial Council and the AOC. Bottom line: The AOC had three times as many bidders the first time they put this contract out to bid in good economic times than they had this go around in bad economic times. Had the initial RFP not been so blatantly egregious the way it was written, a whole lot more companies would have submitted a letter of intent.

About the other two vendors Pride Industries and ABM: We only know that ABM was previously part of the “Team Jacobs” equation and at the time, did not have the proper licensure to be a part of the joint venture. We don’t know why ABM, who was doing all of the subcontracting and acting in the capacity of a “B” licensed general contractor up until January 2010 was never sued as a part of the joint venture when most attorneys that we consulted with all agree they should have been included in the Attorney General’s lawsuits, as well as “Team Jacobs”. Just because a company is not real on paper does not mean it does not exist. Additionally, the Business & Professions code is very clear in spelling out the requirements of a “joint venture” license as well as DBA’s being inextricably tied to a state contractors license number.

If you are a licensed contractor, your contractors license number (and much more) is required on every business card, every proposal and any advertising. It is a crime for a licensed contractor to knowingly work on a jobsite with an unlicensed contractor and not report that unlicensed contractor to a government official. It is a shame that the AOC knowingly compromised so many vendors who knew that both ABM and the joint venture were unlicensed. Only a few companies reported this to the AOC and the AOC ignored those companies for years. All the other contractors took the work and looked the other way.  

We know that there are lots of employees of both Jacobs and AGS that read this blog and we get messages from them from time to time although only “cowboy” posts. These jobs currently held by ABM boots on the ground and AGS boots on the ground can be seamlessly transitioned to the new vendors. Enovity and Pride Industries will be looking for experienced manpower that knows the buildings they’re working on. As to the actual terms of the contracts each vendor is working with, the AOC requested proposals be formulated numerous ways, envisioning a cost plus element for doing work directly for the trial courts.

25% of these maintenance funds were to be set aside for local trial court discretionary projects, yet have not been spent that way in the past. The vendors were invited by the AOC to provide cost plus services directly to the trial courts.

It is likely that the local trial courts will continue to gain greater value by placing their own projects out to bid, rather than run them through the service providers on a cost plus basis. We believe it is in everyone’s best interests to know what those contractual provisions are before the ink is dry on those contracts because 25% of your discretionary maintenance dollars are paying for these contracts and these contracts according to the RFP may last as long as 10 years. If AOC past performance is any indication they may be amended hundreds of times.

We also would recommend those courts in BANCRO and NCRO region request from the new vendors new individual building assessments prior to turnover so that these courts know where their buildings stand and insist that the AOC keep your courts informed about amendments to these contracts that may impact your operations.

Our last two recommendations may seem somewhat controversial so we’re going to reason them out for you. One recommendation we make is that you bring on an experienced facilities manager that has real world experience in both information technology and the construction trades. The second recommendation is that you consider having that manager report to your information technology director.

The reason for the experienced facilities manager is because 25% of these funds the AOC is spending belong to your court and you want value out of that arrangement, not to have those funds disappear into overpriced projects.

The reason for having the facilities manager report to the director of information technology is not so obvious. The AOC inherited over 500 structures. Most of those structures have some form of building management system in them. Recent legislation requires that large real estate holders (like the judicial branch) must use building automation and control systems that have the ability to shed electrical load on the fly, among other energy saving measures. In attempting to comply with the law and having these services spread between three individial contractors who all do their own thing, there is a potential to develop incompatibilities and set aside information technology standards. Most new building management systems are IP capable and they will need to ride on some network to shed load on the fly.

There is a vast potential for a project such as this being poorly executed and ultimately costing as much if not more than CCMS.

Because the AOC is so CCTC focused and believes that the CCTC is the catch-all solution, they lack the understanding of what it takes to actually implement solutions that comply with legislation. In their mind, any solution must run through the CCTC yet the outside vendors will need frequent access. While this calls for a separate statewide network just for this function, it is not being implemented that way. Both your facilities people and your information technology people will need to have an in-depth understanding of what it takes to protect your buildings, the building management systems themselves as well as your court assets and must work together to accomplish this. The AOC’s most experienced people in this arena no longer work for the AOC and have not been replaced with anyone equally knowledgable.

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