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County cancels drywell bid opening to redo procurement

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hawai’i County Department of Finance announced it has canceled the bid opening scheduled for today for a county contract to clean drywells, and will start the bidding process over.

Eckard Brandes Inc., which at one time had the contract to clean county drywells, issued a press release on May 13 raising concerns about the specifications used in the bidding process.

The press release by Eckard Brandes was the first complaint the county Finance Department heard about the bid specifications, and Finance Director Nancy Crawford opted to cancel the bid opening to allow time to carefully review the bid requirements. If revisions in the bid specifications are needed, those will be made before new bids are accepted, she said.

Mayor Billy Kenoi has also instructed the county Department of Public Works to investigate the way the bid specifications were developed to make sure proper procedures were followed, and to confirm there were sound reasons for the bid requirements as they were written.

Mayor Kenoi emphasized that the county has no information that anything improper occurred, but administration officials are proceeding cautiously.

“My administration is committed to an open, fair and proper procurement process, and we will thoroughly review the issues raised by Eckard Brandes,” Mayor Kenoi said.

The drywell contract is currently held by Kama’aina Pumping Inc. The president of Kama’aina Pumping is Randell A. Riley, who is also head of the automotive division of the county Department of Public Works. Kama’aina Pumping already held the county drywell contract in 2002 when Riley was hired by Public Works. The county Board of Ethics issued an informal advisory opinion in 2003 that it was not a conflict of interest for Riley to serve as a contractor for the county.

Riley is a former employee of Eckard Brandes, and Eckard Brandes filed two procurement challenges over the drywell bidding process in 2003. Both challenges were denied. Eckard Brandes appealed the denial to the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, and that appeal was also dismissed. Eckard also filed two lawsuits in Third Circuit Court over the 2003 procurement, and those lawsuits were dismissed in 2005 by mutual agreement.

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