- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A judge has ordered the West Virginia Lottery to award a $7.6 million construction contract to a company that submitted the lowest bid but was disqualified for not listing references.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey said in her order Monday that the conduct by state officials is “shocking to the conscience of the court.”

“No one in charge can explain where the (reference requirement) language came from, or why it was there, or how vendors were supposed to furnish it, and even upon the review of bids, was never utilized or relied upon,” the judge wrote in her opinion.

The job now goes to Maynard C. Construction Co. of Charleston, which submitted the lowest bid by $174,000. Officials had awarded the contract to Wiseman Construction, which did include references in its bid, The Charleston Gazette (https://bit.ly/1H86RxQ) reported.

Bailey noted in her order that officials never contacted Wiseman’s references. She said the decision-making process “has no rational basis in fact.”

Diane Holley-Brown, a Department of Administration spokeswoman, told the newspaper that state officials will comply with Bailey’s order and award the contract to MCS.

Bailey’s order came in a lawsuit filed by MCS against the Lottery Commission, Department of Administration, state Purchasing Division and Wiseman.

The bid dispute has delayed plans to renovate the lottery’s headquarters for three months.

The lottery plans to renovate its parking garage and three floors of office space in a 13-story building that also houses the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration and other state agencies. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also has an office there.

Bailey’s order clears the way for the Lottery to start the project, although Wiseman Construction could appeal the ruling to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Lottery Commission lawyers had asked the judge to allow the agency to rebid the contract, which would have delayed the project another six to eight weeks. Bailey said in her order that rebidding the project is not in the public’s best interest and does not provide an adequate remedy to MCS.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com

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