Public Works Minister Lieutenant Colonel David Burch told MPs today (March 5) that the Government was “working as fast as we can to get contracts awarded”.

Updating the House on the response to the Government’s Stimulus programme launched in December to the tune of BMD $13,385,000, he said: “We have a total of 98 full submissions by the Request for Suppliers Qualifications (RFSQ) deadline of February 15th.

“Responses to the RFSQ are currently being evaluated. To date 18 Companies have been approved and are pre-qualified to work with the Government. We are working to have at least 50 companies pre-qualified to work with the government by Monday the 8th of March.”

Highlights of the Minister’s full statement:

It was December 17th, 2020 when the Executive Director of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, Mrs. Erica Smith and I launched the Short Term Stimulus Programme to a maximum value of BMD $13,385,000 and invited small to medium sized contractors to participate.

The programme was launched as it was recognised that there is an urgent need to provide stimulus to the local economy in order to retain and boost employment numbers in the wake of the economic downturn sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result the Ministry of Public Works compiled a list of “shovel ready” projects that are executable within 3 months. These projects are mostly infrastructure improvements and will not add further burden to government operational expenses. The project’s selection principles are to maximize the employment of the private sector while providing much-needed refreshing of neglected infrastructure.

On December 18th, 2020, the Ministry released a Request for Suppliers Qualifications (RFSQ) across multiple disciplines to generate a prequalification list of approved contractors/companies that can participate in the programme. This approach is in line with Pre-Qualification Procedure and Approved Contractor lists of the Code of Practice for Project Management and Procurement.

The prequalification criteria will include a scoring of technical competence, local employment benefit, and a schedule of unit rates. Suitable companies will then be added to an approved contractor list.

With the development of the list, the Ministry would then use the restricted procedure (Section 16 of Code) to quickly obtain three or more quotations from the various suppliers, grouped by suitability and vocation, to select a contractor for each project. Where works are specialized, or contractors’ availability is limited, either through companies already obtaining a project from the programme or natural scarcity, a Single Source contract will be negotiated based upon the unit rates. The work to be done under this contract and in accordance with these specifications consists of furnishing of equipment, material, supervision, labour, technical knowledge, and skills necessary to satisfactorily and safely complete the job as outlined in the agreement.

To ensure allocation of the stimulus funding across all the participating businesses, the Ministry will maintain a register of approved contractor lists and awarded contracts to ensure that no one company monopolizes the project list. Once a company obtains a project, they will be rotated to the bottom of the list to allow other companies an opportunity for work.

The guiding principle is to prioritize all companies that provide the most employment benefit per dollar spent and spread the work among Bermudian owned and operated businesses.

The plan is to utilise medium to small contractors for the work that will be done at dock and building refurbishments, new construction, Canal clearance, roadside fencing and health & safety improvements.

A consultant Project Manager, Mr Robert Richardson has been assigned by the Ministry to this project to coordinate the efforts of all those involved as well as liaise with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.

Once all evaluations have been completed we will notify companies of their pre-qualified status. (Quite a few submissions were submitted with missing mandatory documents. This requires the Evaluation Team to follow up and request those documents which is prolonging the evaluation process.) Of note is that the pre-qualification process takes time but this will enable us to issue RFQs and award contracts to the pre-qualified companies at a much faster rate than having each contract approved individually.

A total of 200 companies were contacted via email and provided with reminders to submit their response by the 15th of February. In addition to this we notified the Construction Association of Bermuda, Institute of Bermuda Architects and Bermuda Association of Professional Engineers.

The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation assisted a total of 74 contractors with completing their submission packages for the RFSQ.

As the RFSQ phase is now over, companies will start to receive RFQ’s (Request for Quotes) for various Stimulus Projects next week. The Darrell’s Wharf repair project and the Flatt’s Bridge Handrail project have been sent out for RFQs this week with intentions of awarding the contract and commencing on site in the coming weeks. Additional RFQs will be sent out next week, the week of March 8th.

Although there are 43 individual projects under the Stimulus Program, we are separating them into multiple scopes so that we provide as much work as possible across those companies that qualify.

We are very pleased with the response to the Stimulus programme and are working as fast as we can to get contracts awarded. As we progress through this process – I shall keep the House informed.