- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 5, 2006

A D.C. government waste-hauling contract has come under scrutiny over whether the winning bidder has sufficient business ties to the District.

D.C. contracting officials have selected TAC Transport LLC for a $1.8 million contract to pick up trash and recycling at city government and school buildings.

But another bidder and some D.C. Council members are questioning whether TAC deserves preferential treatment, under a program that’s aimed at giving District-based companies an edge in bidding for contracts.

The questions come after Urban Service Systems Corp. filed a legal challenge against the award, saying TAC should not have received so-called preference points in the bidding process because it is a multimillion-dollar business located in Maryland.

D.C. Council members held a hearing on the contract last month in a roundtable involving the government operations and public works committees.

Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican and chairman of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, last month sponsored a resolution to delay the award.

“It’s not just this individual contract,” Mrs. Schwartz said at the hearing. “I get very frustrated when we see a company getting huge amounts of business that has a skeleton presence in the District of Columbia.”

Council members Vincent B. Orange Sr., Ward 5 Democrat, and Kwame R. Brown, at-large Democrat, also expressed concerns about the deal.

At issue is whether TAC should have been awarded preference points in the bidding process under the District’s Local, Small, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (LSDBE) program, which gives preference points to local companies.

The contract has been a point of dispute for months.

In seeking to overturn the award, Urban Service Systems has questioned TAC’s status as a “disadvantaged business enterprise,” citing a previous contract handed to TAC that was worth more than $53 million over five years.

Urban Service Systems also said TAC’s District-based office does not appear to house most of its employees, trucks or other assets.

In November, the D.C. Contract Appeals Board ruled that D.C. officials did not violate the law in awarding LSDBE preference points to TAC for the contract.

The panel ruled that TAC had a provisional eligibility status in the LSDBE program when it submitted a bid for the waste-hauling contract.

City officials have since recertified TAC’s status as an LSDBE contractor.

Ron Adolph, chief executive of TAC, and an attorney for Urban Service Systems could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Adolph, however, told council members at the hearing last month that the company operates in accordance with the law.

He said the company’s principal office is located in the District, while its trucks are located in Maryland.

“We are interested in moving the operation into the city,” he said. “We would like to move it in.”

He said waste companies, however, typically face resistance from residents who do not want trash trucks in their neighborhoods.

Mr. Adolph also accused Urban Service Systems of “stirring stuff up” to keep TAC from competing for work from the District.

He said competition from TAC is lowering prices and providing a benefit to taxpayers after years of city contracts to Urban Service Systems.

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