Honolulu city officials are looking to change the way they award construction contracts, so instead of being automatically awarded to the lowest bidder, construction projects would be given to companies with records of on-time performance and good workmanship.
Current state procurement law requires the counties to award construction projects to companies that bid the least amount of money, regardless of their track record.
"We are forced to deal with the lowest bidder. And that's not necessarily the best in all situations," said Lori Kahikina, who heads the city's design and construction department, which oversees building and renovation of city facilities on Oahu.
Kahikina said her department and the city budget department are looking at changing the procurement procedure, so each contractor would submit two envelopes with their bid. The first would contain their qualifications and the second envelope would list their dollar price bid.
"There would be a selection committee that would look at the first envelope first and weed out the contractors that are not qualified," Kahikina said.
City purchasing officials would open the second set of envelopes with the bid amount, considering only those bids from contractors with good track records.
"So it's not strictly low bid. There is quality, best value looked at," Kahikina said.
Kahikina said the state legislature may need to change state procurement law to allow this type of change when it convenes later this month.
Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard supports such a move so that the city does not have ?contractors coming in artificially bidding low, so they get the contract and they either end up taking too long or they don't meet the intent of the project and in the end it ends up costing taxpayers a lot more money."
"It goes back to keeping records and making sure that things are documented. If there are these problems, that they are documented and that the departments are talking to each other," said Gabbard, who represents Downtown Honolulu, Punchbowl, Nuuanu and Liliha.