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Last updateThu, 19 Jul 2018 12am







    Tuesday, July 17, 2018-11:27:32P.M.






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Triple J sues PSS over school bus procurement

TRIPLE J Saipan has sued the Public School System, challenging the agency’s award of the contract for procurement of five school buses to the rival bidder, Morrico Equipment.

The lawsuit filed in the Superior Court also named Education Commissioner Cynthia I. Deleon Guerrero as a defendant.

Represented by attorney James R. Stump, Triple J is requesting the court to stay the contract award, claiming Morrico was an unresponsive bidder.

According to the complaint, PSS on March 10, 2017 issued a sealed competitive bid for the procurement of five school buses and required that bidders must provide warranty coverage for “1 year/12,000 mile miles bumper to bumper, and five years/60,000 miles power train.”

Stump said on April 13, 2017, Morrico Equipment submitted a one-page document that identified a total bid price of $709,995 and an individual bus price of $141,999 for each of the buses.

But Stump said Morrico’s bid did not identify or discuss the required maintenance or warranty requirements.

Triple J’s bid was in the amount of $799,375 or $159, 875 for each of the five buses and it provided a detailed description of the proposed maintenance and warranty requirements, Stump said.

As the Morrico bid did not address the maintenance and warranty requirement, the PSS procurement office inquired on April 17, 2017 whether Morrico’s bid addressed the maintenance and warranty requirement, Stump said.

On April 20, 2017, Morrico’s representative claimed that the Morrico bid included warranty requirements but did not address maintenance requirements.

On May 26, 2017, Stump said PSS procurement informed Triple J that the bid had been awarded to Morrico Equipment.

On the same day, Triple J filed a bid protest, alleging that Morrico 1) failed to comply with the requirements for a competitive bid; 2) Morrico was not a responsible bidder; 3) the bid submitted by Morrico was not responsive; and 4) PSS failed to properly notify Triple J of the award to Morrico.

Triple J also requested the release of related procurement documents.

On May 30, 2017, the education commissioner responded to the Triple J protest, stating that 1) Triple J had failed to comply with the requirement to file a bid protest within 10 days of knowledge of facts giving rise to such protest; and 2) it failed to provide notice to other bidders within three calendar days of the protest.

Triple J filed an appeal to the commissioner’s decision to the Board of Education and challenged the decision of the commissioner on five issues: 1) violation of requirements for competitive bidding; 2) Morrico was a non-responsive bidder; 3) Morrico was a non-responsible bidder; 4) claims of untimeliness by PSS are inappropriate; and 5) PSS has violated requirements of good faith.

On July 7, 2017 the commissioner filed the required report on the protest, and Triple J filed its reply to the commissioner’s report.

Stump said Triple J’s reply to the commissioner’s report was further supported by additional information.

He added that on Sept. 5, 2017, the appeal committee issued its decision, stating that: 1) because Triple J did not file its protest within 10 days of the bid opening when it was identified that they were aware that Morrico bid did not address the warranty and maintenance requirement, the board lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal; 2) Triple J was not prejudiced by untimely notice of award of bid to Morrico; and 3) Triple J did not provide adequate notice to Morrico.

Stump noted that although the committee decision was dated Sept. 5 it was not received by Triple J until Sept 11, 2017.

According to the lawsuit, Triple J’s protest was timely, the contract award to Morrcio was improper and violated the procurement regulation requirement for prompt notice. Moreover, PSS actions in the administration of the bids for the busses are in bad faith, and the delay in providing notice of protest to Morrico was neither jurisdictional or prejudicial, the lawsuit stated.

Stump said the contract with Morrico was established on May 3, 2017 but no notice was provided to Triple J until after an email inquiry by Triple J representatives on May 26, 2017 — 23 days after the contract’s establishment.

Stump also accused PSS procurement of allowing Morrico to amend its bid after it was opened.

In addition, he said Morrico did not have a valid CNMI business license at the time of contract signing and did not obtain this until after the issue was raised by Triple J.

Triple J is asking the court to invalidate the PSS contract with Morrico Equipment, and to award Triple J damages, costs and other relief that the court may deem appropriate.