How was Cornwall’s $24M garbage contract scored?

Municipal Works General Manager John St. Marseille speaks about a $24 million garbage and recycling contract during a city council meeting on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. The city's evaluation committee reviewed two firms based on a 155 point system. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – While the city is not releasing scoring results from two firms competing for Cornwall’s multi-million dollar garbage and recycling contract, we can tell how it was done.

You may be surprised to learn that – when it comes to scoring – staffing and operations are just as important as price.

Environmental 360 (E360) Solutions of Pickering, Ont. and the existing contractor – HGC Management of Brantford, Ont. – each submitted proposals around $24 million. While E360’s bid was slightly higher ($21,273,864 for E360 versus $21,120,314 for HGC), it scored better by the evaluation committee.

A maximum of 155 points was on the table for each firm. Price is about one-third of decision criteria (50 points) while 100 points is awarded on technical issues and operations.

Points for cost were calculated based on a mathematical formula comparing the lowest price to the other bids.

When it comes to company experience, the three-month old E360 may have taken a back seat to HGC’s 28 years in Cornwall, but “previous experience” only accounted for 15 of the 100 technical points. Company profile was a maximum of five points.

Where both companies were heavily evaluated was staffing, their health and safety record and ongoing training for a total of 25 points. Another 25 points were given for transition, operating and quality control.

That transition included a “description of how service will be provided, estimated number of routes, estimated number of trucks per route, estimated number of trucks for each zone and estimated number of stop,” according to the city’s Request for Proposal document.

Speaking at council Monday night, city staff spoke highly of E360’s bid using split back trucks – ones that can pick garbage and recycling up at the same time – and its transition plan.

HGC Management President Herb Lambacher was asked by Cornwall Newswatch whether his bid may have been negatively scored because it didn’t fit the vision of the Solid Waste Management Plan. “That could well be. It wasn’t in the document. I specifically had asked at the bidder’s meeting, ‘Do you really care if you have a split truck or not?’, and was told you give whatever you think. If they said ‘We want split trucks’ I would have priced split trucks. I looked at the thing (RFP) and thought there’s no price advantage so I didn’t do it,” Lambacher said.

Lambacher described how, under his proposal, a recycling truck would follow behind a garbage truck on any given route. Based on that plan and the city’s criteria, it’s conceivable that HGC scored negatively by having more trucks per route.

Lambacher claims that “in the document, they said they were providing a (customer service) platform for us to fill in. So, if they were providing it, why would I put my own system in?” But that doesn’t show up anywhere in the city’s 168-page RFP. It says customer service is scored based on how “your company will provide…customer service,” including a request to show “how your company monitors performance and manages quality of service.”

Bidders also had a chance to grab an additional five bonus points for “value added services and innovation” – basically ideas that would not cost the city any more money but could actually benefit the corporation, such as waste reduction or “green fleet” ideas.

If HGC loses the contract, at least 30 full-time employees will be laid off. Municipal Works General Manager John St. Marseille says Environmental 360 Solutions plans to hire 36 workers. There are no guarantees the laid off workers will be picked up by the new company.

City council delayed awarding of the contract by two weeks while the city gathers more information, including legal advice.

The following is the city’s scoring system for the garbage and recycling Request for Proposal:

Technical Proposal (maximum 100 points)

  • Company Capabilities and Credentials – 20 points
  • Human Resource Requirements – 25 points
  • Facilities/Equipment Requirements – 20 points
  • Implementation/Operational Requirements – 25 points
  • Quality Assurance/Quality Control/Communication/Contingency Plan – 10 points

Cost (50 points)

  • Option 1 (current service level) – 20 points
  • Option 2 (modified service level) – 20 points
  • Recycling Processing – 10 points

Bonus (5 points)

  • Value Added Services and Innovation – 5 points
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