City declares winning bid non-responsive

Published 10:21 pm Friday, January 20, 2012

In another twist to the process of finding a manufacturer for a police mobile command vehicle, the city has declared the apparent low bidder in a second bid process non-responsive.

In a Wednesday letter to Farber Specialty Vehicles, senior buyer Cindy Norfleet told the company its bid contained a “material misrepresentation” because it had certified it was registered with the State Corporation Commission as of Jan. 9 when, in fact, it did not file for registration until Jan. 17.

Steve Goodyear, national sales manager for the Ohio-based company, said the company mistakenly put an identification number for a different Virginia state agency instead of a State Corporation Commission number.

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“We build trucks,” Goodyear said. “We apparently should be better at filling out forms.”

The bus, according to a presentation to City Council by Police Chief Thomas Bennett last year, would help the department improve its response to natural disasters, hostage situations and other incidents. A Port Security Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would fund the purchase of the bus.

In the first round of bidding for the project last year, Farber beat out Matthews Specialty Vehicles, Inc., which promptly sued the city. Matthews pointed out what it said were numerous discrepancies between the specifications in the request for bids and the documents submitted by Farber.

In December, the city canceled its contract with Farber and said it would re-issue the invitation for bids, so the lawsuit was dismissed. But Farber had apparently underbid Matthews again.

Goodyear said the company immediately filed for its State Corporation Commission number upon becoming aware it needed one. They received it in 48 hours, he said.

“Honestly, until she called us, we had no idea you had to have it,” he said. “It’s a fairly new law.”

Goodyear said he is asking the city for a chance to correct the error in the forms.

“We really didn’t know,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t do it on purpose.”

A message left for a lawyer for Matthews Specialty Vehicles was not returned late Friday afternoon.