in Houston, Texas
State blacklists vendors who go on contracting with federal and local agencies
Friday, Aug 17, 2012, 12:21PM CST
By Steve Miller
Bars

When the state stops doing business with a vendor, you might suspect the company of a magnificent scam of the explosive headline kind.

Naw. Judging from the state’s list of ten blacklisted vendors, “improper invoicing practices” and “misrepresentations in documents submitted for bidding,” are more like it.

So, is it a big deal? The state can and does bar companies from doing business for a period of up to five years with state agencies. Debarment does not, however, stop a company from contracting with federal or local agencies, RJ DeSilva, a spokesman for the Texas Comptroller’s office, said in an email.

“Everything pertains to state contracts,” he wrote. DeSilva did not return phone calls.

Debarment hasn’t bothered the city of Dallas, which continues to use two of those banned companies.

Tex-American Recycling of Forth Worth, banned for five years by the state since Aug. 1, 2008, does scrap tire pickup for the city. Fine Line Products, of Columbus, Ohio, suspended for five years on October 15, 2009, sold $24,600 worth of smoke detectors to the city in January of 2010.

The Houston Independent School District paid an invoice of $1,025 from Tex-American last year, records show.

A person answering the phone at Fine Line declined to comment. Tex-American could not be reached for comment. Calls and emails to representatives of the city of Dallas were not returned.

The state can bar a vendor for several actions in according to state government code. Violations include fraud, contract breach, poor performance, or misrepresentation during bidding or in a proposal.

Any company bidding or proposing to work for the state must certify that it is not on a list of debarred vendors for federal contracts.

For a state to use a debarred federal vendor is a serious offense in other states.

DeSilva wrote that “before a state agency awards a contract it looks at the federal debarment list.”

Apparently it doesn’t work the other way around. The federal government spent $100,968 with Fine Line  in 2011, including a deal to provide gloves to a military installation in Texarkana.

***

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of  Bars by flickr user Lori_NY, used via a Creative Commons license.

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