By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Grand jury presentments reiterate past concerns
Placeholder Image
The just-released presentments of the Liberty County Grand Jury reiterate concerns also expressed by recent grand juries and others, especially in connection with the Liberty County Development Authority, board of education and hospital authority.
On six of the presentments' 10 pages the grand jury dealt with the development authority and its relationship with CH2MHill.
CH2MHill is a global, full service engineering and consulting firm known for such projects as the venues and infrastructure for the 2012 London Olympics, management of a $5 billion expansion of the Panama Canal and of a $10 billion military base relocation program for the U.S. and South Korea.
In detail, the grand jury traces the development of the relationship between CH2MHill and the LCDA from a 2005 master agreement for professional services, to a decision to use the design-build approach for a sewage plant, to a 2007 master agreement with CH2MHill for design-build services on the plant.
Although the grand jurors concluded the LCDA-CH2MHill transactions comply with state law, they were critical of the processes. The presentments state in one place, "the public solicitation of this contract opportunity was inadequate," in another, "the LCDA should have taken extra care to avoid the appearance that it afforded preferential treatment to CH2MHill," and in a third, that a letter from authority CEO Ron Tolley, "suggests that the authority was not interested in seriously considering bids other than the one from CH2MHill. This tends to support the grand jury's view that the LCDA deliberately afforded a competitive advantage to CH2MHill."
In a final, formal one-sentence recommendation, the presentments said, "Accordingly, the grand jury recommends that the LCDA should conduct open and fair competition when contracting future public works in a way that it preserves the integrity of the procurement process."
The grand jury commended the LCDA for "its efforts in protecting our fragile coastal estuary," and noted a statement by authority member Jeff Arnold that the authority owed it to the citizens of Liberty County to construct and operate the new plant in the most environmentally friendly manner possible even if it meant a substantial increase in cost for the plant and its operation.
Sign up for our e-newsletters