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UPDATE: Local Mowing Company Files Complaint About VA Mowing Contract Award – Others May Follow

Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 at 11:30 am
Author: KNIA/KRLS News-Dr. Bob Leonard/Samantha Smith

The Veterans Affairs Central Iowa Health Care System in Des Moines has announced the award of a contract for grounds maintenance for the VA campus in Knoxville. The winning bid, for $871,000 for mowing services, was to Crossroads Hall, at 1426 Nevin Drive in Knoxville. Crossroads Hall is owned by Brenda Davis of Knoxville. The award is for a base period, plus four option years. According to documentation provided by the VA, the awardee provided the “Best Value” bid.

Jordan Van Ness with Clark’s Lawn Care in Pleasantville tells KNIA KRLS news they submitted a bid which was approximately $450,000 less than that of Crossroads Hall and states he knows of two other experienced lawn businesses in the Pleasantville area that also placed a bid within the $300,000 and $415,000 range. Van Ness says they had a contract with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for 12 years to mow the Howell Station at Lake Red Rock. He says this year they were underbid by another company and despite consistent positive feedback, they lost the contract to the lower bid. Van Ness says, especially with the economy the way it is, that’s the way competitive bids work, if someone else can do it for cheaper than we’re not offended that they were offered the contract, but in this case we’re not sure why the contract was awarded to a company who clearly wasn’t the lowest.

Van Ness says he and contacted Congressman Leonard Boswell’s office last week about to file a complaint about the award. He says a representative from Boswell’s office stated that it was something they planned to look into and would get back to him, as of this time he has not heard anything back. In addition, complaints were also submitted to the offices of Senators Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley earlier this week and they are still waiting for a response.

When it comes down to it, Van Ness says they just want some answers and want to know the reason why the contract was awarded the way it was. When he tried to contact the VA to discuss the matter, Van Ness says the person he talked to was very defensive and refused to provide a reason as to why things worked out the way they did.

Dave Lovell, owner of Dave and the Boys mowing service in Pella, tells KNIA KRLS news that his company submitted a bid of approximately $268,000, more than $600,000 less than the winning bid, and is contemplating challenging the award. Lovell also tells KNIA KRLS News that approximately six other local bidders with extensive mowing experience provided bids to the VA, all in the $260,000 to $350,000 range, much less than half of the winning bid. KNIA KRLS has also spoken with another bidder, who provided a bid around $350,000, who wishes to make no comment at this time.

The award was made public on Tuesday August 24. Last week, KNIA KRLS news contacted a VA spokesperson with a list of questions regarding this award, and as of this reading there has been no VA response.

KNIA KRLS News will provide more information as soon as it becomes official.