Several erroneous insinuations and unsubstantiated accusations have been made by an investigative reporting outlet that VTA violated the very rules that provide protection for both the agency and potential consultant partners to make sure that bidding processes are fair and inclusive.
On the contrary, there were no illegal activities or circumvented processes that would put the Arcadis U.S., Inc. contract at risk. VTA complied with all applicable laws, regulations, and internal policies in its issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP). During this process, no firms were deemed ineligible for having a conflict of interest, and no firms protested the intent to award the contract.
- VTA followed all applicable laws, regulations, and internal policies related to public procurements of architecture and engineering services.
As required by law when procuring such services, VTA issued and awarded the RFP using qualifications-based selection procedures. These procedures require VTA to (1) issue a RFP for the services required, (2) evaluate all proposals received on the basis of qualifications, excluding price as an evaluation factor, (3) rank the proposers based on qualifications, and (4) engage in negotiations with the top-ranked proposer. Only if negotiations fail with the top-ranked proposer may VTA move to the second-ranked proposer.
Pursuant to these procedures, Arcadis (along with its proposed project team and subcontractors) was ranked as the top proposer. As a result of the evaluations, VTA was statutorily required to engage in negotiations with Arcadis with the intent of awarding the contract, which VTA complied with. At the conclusion of successful negotiations, Arcadis was awarded the contract.
- There is no evidence that Arcadis was given access to non-public information that was material to the RFP nor were they involved in crafting a scope of work for future contracts.
Prior to the RFP issuance, Benthem-Crouwel (a subcontractor to Arcadis under the current contract) was previously under contract with VTA to provide general insight on how best to coordinate all of the key stakeholders involved in the future project. Benthem-Crouwel’s work under the prior contract was for a different work than what was advertised in the later RFP.
- VTA’s involvement of Google in the process is in line with how VTA would have handled the involvement of any stakeholder of a major project.
Google was consulted as a stakeholder but was not involved in the evaluation process of the RFP. Any time VTA undertakes a large project like the Diridon station project, VTA does its due diligence as a public agency by consulting the surrounding landowners and businesses that could be affected to see whether there are issues that VTA has not yet considered.
Does the current contract require the consultant to collaborate with Google? Yes. The same contract also requires Arcadis to work with the other “Partner Agencies” that will be impacted by this project: Caltrain, the City of San Jose, and California High Speed Rail Authority.
Based on facts, not on “may haves” or speculation, VTA did not violate public procurement rules and Arcadis did not have a conflict of interest preventing it from proposing on the project; therefore, VTA has no plans to halt the design work at Diridon, sever ties with Arcadis, or rebid the current contract.