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Heads, You Win a $4.4M Contract...

Monday, March 24, 2014

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With the flip of a coin, a New Orleans contractor (who chose heads) has landed a multimillion-dollar government renovation contract in Gretna, LA.

The unusual letting process for rehabilitation of the Gretna Police Department headquarters went down to a coin toss when two of the seven bidders for the project submitted identical low bids of $4,410,000. (The project was budgeted at $4.5 million.)

Gretna Coin Toss
nola.com screen grab

Ashton Miller Robinson flips a coin to determine which contractor will renovate the Gretna, LA, police headquarters. At right are representatives of F.H. Myers, who won the toss and the contract.

The bidders were F.H. Myers Constuction Corp. and Trimark Constructors LLC, both of New Orleans.

After the bids were verified and the contractors deemed equally qualified, the city ran the issue by lawyers. Ultimately, the lawyers, the city and the two bidders all agreed to a winner-take-all single flip of a special commemorative challenge coin.

Officials then spent about a week nailing down the terms of the toss.

Historic Occasion

Befitting a historic occasion—city officials could not recall another contract being awarded that way—the flipping honor was bestowed on Ashton Miller Robinson, 19, whose grandfather and great-grandfather were both longtime local police chiefs.

The renovated building will be named after Robinson's great-grandfather, B.H. Miller Sr., a "legendary law enforcer" who served for 53 years, according to local ABC affiliate WGNO.

Papers were drawn from a police cap for the right to call the toss. F.H. Myers won the draw and called heads in the air.

Coin toss closeup
wgno.com screen grab

The bidders agreed to be legally bound by the toss, which used a special commemorative coin.

News video captured the action.

The coin landed heads, spurring high fives and handshakes all around. City officials boasted that the process, though unusual, may have been its most democratic and transparent contract award ever.

Flipping Over Contracts

Though unusual, the coin-toss award process is not unprecedented.

Last fall, officials at Citizenship and Immigration Canada used a "best two out of three" coin toss to award a $171,534 tech consulting contract three months after the bid period closed, the National Post reported.

In September, the Albion (IL) City Council awarded a $2,000 contract to one of two bidders who were equally qualified and submitted identical bids to remove concrete debris from the city's dump, according to The Navigator.

   

Tagged categories: Commercial contractors; Government contracts; Rehabilitation/Repair; Renovation

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