Middle East District uses sealed bidding to help expedite contract awards for USACE missions in Afghanistan

USACE Middle East District
Published Dec. 12, 2012
Chuck Hollingsworth, Ryan Shoemaker, and Maria Martin open and record sealed contractor bids at a public bid opening on Nov. 19, for the construction of facilities at Kandahar Airfield.

Chuck Hollingsworth, Ryan Shoemaker, and Maria Martin open and record sealed contractor bids at a public bid opening on Nov. 19, for the construction of facilities at Kandahar Airfield.

WINCHESTER, Va. – On Nov. 19, the Middle East District employed a process it rarely uses to accelerate a contract award by holding a sealed bid opening for a construction project in Afghanistan.

The sealed bidding process uses competitive bids, public opening of bids, and timely contract award to the contractor with the lowest priced, responsive bid.

"This method used to be known as an invitation for bid. In this practice contractors may come in to hear the bids being read aloud to know how they compare," said contracting officer Maria Martin.

Recently, the Afghanistan Engineer District-South approached the Middle East District for help expediting the award of eight contracts, which would be transferred back to AED-South for administration and oversight. Three of the eight are being awarded through the sealed bidding process. This bid opening was the second of three openings the Middle East District has planned, said Ryan Shoemaker, contract specialist.

"Use of this expedited acquisition method is important because of the December 2014 target for all construction to be complete on the Afghanistan National Security Forces program," said Joseph Zaraszczak, Chief, Afghanistan and Iraq Support Branch. "To achieve this, USACE is awarding remaining contracts before January 2013 to meet the construction completion target date, in preparation for the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan."

USACE is constructing facilities to support Afghan National Security Forces – the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police – as they prepare to assume complete control of their country.

The contract is phase five of the Kandahar Air Wing at Kandahar Airfield. The work consists of a site adaptation and construction of facilities to create a sustainable fire training facility and munitions storage area to meet needs of the growing Afghan air force. Five bids were received and opened during the public opening. The $6.8 million contract was awarded to METAG Insaat Ticaret A.S., of Ankara, Turkey, on Dec. 10.

The Middle East District held the first sealed bid opening on Oct. 23, resulting in a $4.2 million contract awarded on Nov. 6, also to METAG Insaat Ticaret A.S., for conversion of facilities at Camp Shorab, Helmand province. The next sealed bid opening will take place on Dec. 13, for conversion of facilities at Base Shindand, Herat province, with award expected before the end of December. Both conversion projects require construction at Afghan National Army commando camps to accommodate Afghan special operations forces. The projects include warehouse storage buildings, guard shacks and security, roads and utilities. Buildings will be constructed using arch-span type construction to expedite completion.

According to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, sealed bidding may be used when four conditions permit: time is sufficient for the use of sealed bids; the award is based on price and price-related factors; it is not necessary to conduct discussions with the offerors; and there is an expectation of receiving more than one sealed bid. This method of procurement is beneficial because it is faster than a negotiated contract, providing the means to award contracts more quickly.

Martin said bids for the Kandahar Air Wing contract were mailed in or hand delivered before 4 p.m. on Nov. 19. Once all bids were opened and read aloud, the apparent low bidder was announced. Before the contract can be awarded, the lowest bid must be reviewed to guarantee that the selected contractor meets all contract requirements including addressing any amendments, bid bonds, correct price evaluation, proper certification, financial capability, and isn't barred from federal contracting. The firm must also be properly registered in the Central Contractor Registration and the System for Award Management databases. In addition, the bidder must be determined responsible in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation to be eligible for award.

"After review, the contracting officer has the final authority and will sign the official award document," said Shoemaker. "This is a firm fixed price award, where the contractor will receive the exact amount awarded.

"Given the demanding workload of AED-South's mission, these projects help to ensure a swift and responsible completion of the project," said Shoemaker. "This process is beneficial when the scope of the contract is simple and the job must be done quickly. These contract awards help AED-South succeed in meeting its goals with projects that need to be awarded quicker."