by NICHOLAS STACK
The University of Nevada, Reno has begun a series of new construction projects that have gone under way. Here are three things about how the university contracts independent contractors:
1. From section five of the university’s Independent Contractor Procedures: “Agreements with estimated total payment of at least $25,000 may be subject to quote requirements, while agreements with estimated total payments of at least $50,000 may be subject to formal bidding requirements.” In short, the university has to spend their public funds on contractors fairly.
But here’s the twist of the section five: There is a loophole in place that allows the university to legally skip the “bidding process” and hire a contractor of their choice without having other companies bidding for a chance to work for them. Briefly after the explaination the bidding process in section five, the contract reads, “When the total contract amount on the agreement is $25,000.00 or more or when the aggregated total contract amount with a given contractor is $25,000.00 or more, the contracting department is required to provide substantiation for the single source using the Competitive Exception form in addition to the UNR ICA Form.” This means that the university is allowed to hire whomever they’d like to build their facilities for more than the price mentioned above so long as the Nevada State of Higher Education (NSHE) and the Chancellor approve the hiring.
2. UNR went to court for alleged “violations” of the fair bidding process on April 27, 2013 after Q & D constructions and Clark & Sullivan Constructions claimed that they did not get the opportunity to bid on the $36 million contract to build a new student achievement center; because it was a public works project, the local construction companies said the bidding process had to be followed. However, on May 2, 2013, the Washoe County District Court ruled that UNR did not have to reopen the bidding project, and that they conducted fair standards. The project is currently underway by CORE Constructions.
3. UNR has selected Sundt Construction to build the Cooper Court Residence Hall sometime in the near future and expects it to open during the summer of 2015. This raises a cause for concern because Sundt Construction is based out of Tempe, Arizona. Unlike UNR’s other ongoing projects, the Cooper Court construction will not create jobs in Reno because no local construction companies were put on the project.