NEW DETAILS: Government suspends disputed Wright-Patt housing contract

Contract is being ‘reevaluated,’ says company that protested with GAO

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has suspended a contract award made to Messer Construction to renovate housing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The corps agreed to reevaluate construction company proposals and make a new “best-value determination” for an approximately $70 million housing renovation contract at Wright-Patterson, according to joint venture Vazquez-RWB JV LLC, which had earlier filed a formal, post-award protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) alleging that the contract was unfairly awarded.

A spokeswoman for the Louisville, Ky. district of the Army Corps of Engineers confirmed the change.

“The contracting officer made the determination to stop performance associated with this contract, until the protest is resolved which may include corrective action,” Katelyn Newton said in an email Thursday.

In late December, a government contract in excess of $2.4 million per home was awarded to Messer by the Army Corps of Engineers for renovation of 29 historic homes on Wright-Patterson.

Vazquez-RWB alleged that Messer’s proposal was more expensive than its own. And the protesting company alleged as well that Messer “lacks the necessary experience in residential remodeling and historic home preservation that a project of this magnitude requires.”

The Dayton Daily News has asked Air Force representatives for further information on this project, including an explanation of the apparent costs involved per base residence. This news outlet has also filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Army Corps of Engineers for further information.

“It’s important that the bidding process on significant and historical projects like Wright-Patterson Air Force (Base) is transparent,” Joe Vazquez, Vazquez Commercial Contracting president and owner, said in a statement Thursday. “We are pleased that the government will re-evaluate and provide clarity on their process. Ohio taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent.”

A representative of Messer referred questions to the Army Corps of Engineers.

In response to the initial filing of the GAO protest, Messer told the Dayton Daily News earlier: “Messer is aware of a protest filed with the GAO regarding a contract we were awarded to renovate housing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where we’ve performed work for more than 80 years. We recognize the historical significance of this project and are honored to have been selected as the general contractor. Messer responded to the detailed expertise and cost qualifications that the government requested in its RFP (request for proposal).”

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