It’s a good question, and one that City Council president James Flurry has asked.
For the record, Bossier City, Baton Rouge or New Orleans do not have this committee, or anything similar.
So why in Shreveport?
The Shreveport ordinance establishing the Architectural/Engineering (A/E) Committee provides that the Committee is to “assure the city selects qualified firms to provide it with architectural, engineering, interior design, construction management, land surveying.”
The Committee also is to "provide that firms whose primary business address is in the Shreveport-Bossier metropolitan area are selected to provide these services when they are properly qualified and are experienced in the type of work needed by the city.”
The A/E Committee reviews responses to Requests for Proposal (RFP) that have a contract amount of $10,000 or higher. With an RFP, selection of the lowest dollar amount is not required.
There are 9 members of the A/E selection committee. The directors of public works, water and sewerage, airport director, city engineer and executive director of the metropolitan planning commission are automatic members. The chairman of the city council and the clerk of the city council are also automatic members.
The Mayor has 2 appointments to the A/E Committee. These are David Aubrey, who spends most of his time in Baton Rouge with his job, and Linda Biernacki, who is a major campaign donor to Ollie Tyler. Aubrey is in management with AT&T and Biernacki is the owner of Firetech Systems.
The ordinance prohibits citizen appointees and their employing firms from competing for city A/E contracts while on the Committee and for 6 months after their term of service has ended. The ordinance does not preclude the citizen appointees/their companies from being sub contractors on A/E contracts.
Rumors have circulated about conflicts of interest both with Aubrey and Biernacki.
The A/E Committee is charged with reviewing all submittals from A/E firms to determine the firms which it considers most qualified for and suited to perform the work. Aubrey’s qualification for this determination as one of the voting committee members is questionable at best. Biernacki's company provides a substantial percentage of the fire prevention systems in local construction projects. She has ties to many if not most of the companies that bid for A/E contracts.
The Committee is charged with selecting 3 "qualified" firms. The Mayor then has the sole authority to select one of the 3 recommended contractors.
At the last A/E Committee meeting it was apparent that concerns other than qualifications were paramount in the voting of Aubrey, Biernacki and some of the other members. One of these deal with selection of a minority contractor whose office was in Aubrey’s Baton Rouge office building. The other dealt with how much time had passed since a contractor had gotten the vote of the Committee.
One wonders why the MPC executive director is on the A/E Committee. The MPC is a separate government entity and it does not deal with qualifications of contractors. And what qualification does the airport director bring to the table?
Bottomline, the A/E committee in its present form, appears to be a dinosaur. Flurry’s interest in a review of the committee and its functions are very timely.
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