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Oklahoma trade group questions Fort Sill bidding process, work

The American Subcontractors Association of Oklahoma alleges out-of-state contractors are receiving favorable treatment on construction projects at Fort Sill in violation of state law.
by Phillip O'Connor Published: August 27, 2012
/articleid/3704408/1/pictures/1809520">Photo - Contruction crews built houses on Fort Sill in 2005-06. Oklahoman Archive Photo.
Contruction crews built houses on Fort Sill in 2005-06. Oklahoman Archive Photo.

On one project, a subcontractor installed cheaper electrical conduit than called for in the bid requirements in several Fort Sill buildings, including a National Guard armory, a basic training barracks and a dining hall.

Association members said corps officials told them at last week's meeting that they could have made similar alterations and that it was their responsibility to dig into the bid specifications and ask questions.

But in Nestlen's letter to Inhofe and Cole, he told of an Oklahoma subcontractor who asked an inspector if he could bid for a second phase of the same Fort Sill project using the cheaper conduit and was told no.

“We just felt like we were placed at a disadvantage from a bidding standpoint,” said Bryan Jones, of Lawton-based electrical contractor S.B. Jones Inc.

Inspections are issue

Another association concern focused on inspection of work done by out-of-state contractors.

While Oklahoma subcontractors at Fort Sill are inspected by the corps on a regular basis, the association says it's unclear whether the corps inspects all work done by out-of-state contractors.

An association member reported he was told by a Corps inspector that he was not allowed to perform such work. Nestlen said he was told that in many instances work was reviewed only by quality control inspectors employed by the general contractor.

In another instance, a corps concrete inspector who ordered improper work redone was ignored by the general contractor, according to the association.

“Once the actions of the out-of-state contractor were brought to the attention of the Corps, instead of causing the inappropriate action to be rectified, the Corps inspector was forced to take early retirement,” Nestlen wrote in his letter to the two lawmakers.

Adkins said the corps routinely inspects the work of out-of-state contractors and the quality assurance inspectors they employ. He said the agency sought to investigate the accusation involving the inspector who was allegedly forced to take early retirement but that the association declined to disclose the inspector's name based on legal advice.

“We can't do too much unless they give us specifics,” Adkins said.

by Phillip O'Connor
Enterprise Editor
O'Connor joined the Oklahoman staff in June, 2012 after working at The Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a combined 28 years. O'Connor, an Oklahoma City resident, is a graduate of Kansas State University. He has written frequently...
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