The normal project and contractual risks faced by contractors, consultants and suppliers to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are considerable. A new law and regulations mandating that the MTA debar contractors, consultants and suppliers for unexcused schedule and cost overruns creates a new and unfair existential risk.
The new law, Public Authorities Law Section 1279-h, slipped into the New York State budget bill and passed without public comment, was enacted on April 12, 2019. Implementing regulations were issued on June 5, 2019, and mandate that the MTA debar contractors (defined to include consultants, vendors and suppliers) if they: (1) fail to achieve substantial completion of their contractual obligations within 10% of the adjusted contract time; or (2) present claims for additional compensation that are denied in an amount that exceeds the total adjusted contract amount by 10% or more.
To say that your business and your livelihood are at risk is not an overstatement. The MTA umbrella includes the New York City Transit Authority, MTA Capital Construction, Bridges & Tunnels, Long Island Railroad and Metro North, among others. A debarment by one of these authorities will lead to a debarment by all of them, and then to a debarment by all New York State agencies and authorities, and possibly debarment across state lines. Public and major private owners, as part of their RFP and procurement processes, routinely inquire regarding a bidding contractor’s debarment history.
The risk is to new contracts and, because the MTA has decided to give retroactive effect to the law and regulations, to contracts that are already ongoing (even though these risks could not have been considered, priced or agreed to by contractors or their sureties).
Reprinted courtesy of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. attorneys Steven M. Charney, Gregory H. Chertoff and Paul Monte
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