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Drug testing to be bid out again

Rich Cholodofsky
| Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

A new contract to provide drug testing for the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau will be bid out for a fourth time.

Common Pleas Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr., in a ruling made public on Monday, rejected legal arguments proffered by two local testing firms that they should have won the work.

McCormick, in a two-page order, offered no explanations for his ruling but indicated the county should yet again bid out the contract. The bureau, which oversees allegedly abused and neglected children, tests parents or caregivers for possible drug use, frequently under court orders.

The judge heard testimony last month in the case brought by Express Testing Services of North Huntingdon and M&N Testing of Penn Township.

On April 26, county commissioners rejected a $394,000 bid from Express Testing and a $436,000 bid from M&N Testing, saying confusion by the companies rendered their price proposals as incomplete or excessive.

Both companies claimed their respective proposals to perform more than 3,500 drug tests came in as the low bid.

Express said its bid was the lowest, while M&N claimed its competitor's proposal was incomplete, making M&N the lowest responsible bidder.

The most recent ruling was the third time McCormick intervened with the contract.

The judge voided M&N's contract last year because of discrepancies in the bidding, and in March he granted Express Testing's request for an injunction that directed the commissioners to rebid the drug-testing contract and set aside a contract awarded to M&N.

Brandan Petrick, the attorney for Express Testing, said his clients would try for a fourth time to win the contract.

“It's just been a very frustrating process,” Petrick said.

Representatives from M&N Testing could not be reached for comment.

County Solicitor R. Mark Gesalman said a mandatory meeting of all interested bidders will be conducted next week in an attempt to eliminate confusion over the process.

Commissioners could award the contract at their July 26 meeting, Gesalman said.

“We're looking to do it as quickly as possible,” Gesalman said.

For much of this year, the children's bureau has operated its drug testing program through interim contracts held at times by both companies.

Express Testing holds an interim $17,900 contract for the work through July 17.

Another interim deal will have to be approved as early as this week to cover the county through the end of July, Gesalman said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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