Friday, November 17, 2017

Federal Biz Opps

Federal agencies are required to advertise all opportunities over $25,000 on a website called FedBizOpps.gov or FBO.gov.  This site has been running since 2001 and I have used it to search for construction contracting and engineering work over the years.  While the site is still a little hard to navigate I do think it has gotten better over the years.  I couple of things that have helped me:
  • Use "Watched Opportunities" to save projects.  Federal jobs change project IDs and can be shelved for years.  Watched opportunities will help you find the project at a later date.
  • The site also has a search agent function that you can set up.  Put in the parameters of your search - type of work, location, agency,  FBO.gov will search and send you an email if it finds a match.
  • FBO.gov will ask you to change change your password every 3 months.  Do it when you see the email notice.
One project that I found was a new 250 car parking ramp for VA hospital in Des Moines.  It is a service disabled veteran owned set aside that will be bid on Dec 5th.  The link to job on FBO.gov is https://www.fbo.gov/notices/6e71c09e18daa6e28c54aff6320d2a63

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Watch out for a phone scam

Iowa DBE contractors should be aware of the possibility that they may be contacted by an entity by the name of Minority Success Network from Torrance California. They will claim they can help maintain your DBE certification in Iowa. This is a scam. They can not help you. They will call you back later and demand $900 payment for publishing your company name in their online magazine. Looking at the magazine they mostly target high schools and school districts.

This is terrible. We have a hard enough time convincing owners that minority and women contracting should be taken seriously without this undermining that effort.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Downloading plans and proposal forms.

I have gotten a few calls about how to get plans off the Iowa DOT website.  Plans are located on the Iowa DOT Office of Contracts website:


After you click on the letting you click on the project you want to download.


All files are now zipped or compressed to make them smaller and quicker to download.  You need to extract the file to use them.


After you extract all files you can delete the zip folder to save space on your hard drive.


The plan and proposal forms are in a pdf file format.  You need a pdf viewer like the free Adobe Reader to open the file.  I use Bluebeam Revu which I found to be easier than Reader.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Estimating Training & Graphic Design Assistance



The Construction Management and Technology (CMAT) Program at Iowa State University has developed two opportunities for Iowa DOT DBE Contractors. On Friday May 19th there will be a training day on construction estimating to be held from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the Institute for Transportation in Ames, IA. I would encourage all DBE Contractors to attend. Click here for more information and to register.

Also CMAT has developed a program to assist DBE firms create a logo and associated graphics for their company. Design students from Iowa State University would be teamed up with DBE companies to design a logo for their company. A logo will help identify a company to the rest of the industry and public whether it is on letterhead, quotes, pickup trucks or emails. This service is free to Iowa DBE firms.

This is just one of the programs to be offered by CMAT to assist Iowa DOT DBE contractors. Program director is:

Jennifer S. Shane, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering
Iowa State University
515-294-1703
jsshane@iastate.edu
http://www.intrans.iastate.edu/cmat/DBE-support-services/

Friday, March 24, 2017

Subcontract Termination for Convenience

I have had several DBE subcontractors tell me that they have had their subcontracts terminated by a prime contractor after the work performed on their subcontract exceed the DBE commitment on the project.  These DBEs had done good work but the prime contractors took the work away from them because their crews "needed the work."  No notification to the DBEs.  This is a termination for convenience.

If a subcontractor fails to show, does shoddy work, doesn't pay for material then the prime contractor has a right to terminate a subcontract for "cause" and finish the subcontractor's work.  Prime contractors like to have a little cushion over the amount of the DBE commitment because the Iowa DOT requires the prime to subcontract at least that amount, but a subcontract is a subcontract.

I don't know the solution to the problem.  Primes and DBEs need to develop long-term trusting relationships.  I think many have. Some prime contractors are better to work for than others.  The good ones need to be rewarded and the poor ones penalized.

I-74 Bridge in Scott County

The I-74 bridge project spanning the Mississippi River will bid with a special letting on April 25th.  This is biggest project ever let by the Iowa DOT.  I have heard $500 million.  $750 million?  Higher?  There is a 5% DBE goal on the proposals.  Looking through the project I have following comments:

  • DBE contractors who are not certified in Iowa have until 10 days before the bid to get certified in Iowa.  Don't be surprised if you see some names you don't recognize.
  • Expect to see a lot of requests for quotes from the prime contractors.  They are trying to establish their good faith effort.  If you are not interested in bidding respond to the primes and let them know.  If you are interested contact the primes and work with them on how to incorporate your company into their bid.
  • Stainless steel reinforcing is being used.  Millions of pounds of it.  Stainless steel has special requirements.  Stainless steel reinforcement needs to be kept away from carbon steel,  covered with tarps outside, separated from the ground of floor by wooden supports.  
  • There are incentive/disincentive pay dollar amounts per calendar day.  I would include a statement in your quote that limits your overtime exposure. For example this bid does not include working over 10 hours a day or 60 hours per week.

Monday, February 6, 2017

DBE Essentials Workshop

It's never too late to sign-up for the 2017 DBE Essentials Workshop to be held February 8th & 9th at the Iowa Department of Transportation offices in Ames, Iowa.