News

Alta Vista values open communication and wants to share our newest information regarding our recent endeavors, events, and awards.

PRESS RELEASE – Alta Vista Announces Boundouki Promotion December 1, 2014

For Immediate Release:

PRESS RELEASE

Alta Vista Celebrates Boundouki Commencement and Announces New Promotion

Richmond, Calif.December 01, 2014 — Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista) is pleased to announce the promotion of Rami Boundouki, PE, to Project Manager. Over the past year Mr. Boundouki was accepted into and successfully completed Alta Vista’s rigorous Development Panel Review (DPR) process qualifying him for this position. Alta Vista’s unique DPR program challenges accepted candidates in multiple disciplines such as technical competence, personnel management, project finance and communications needed to successfully manage today’s complex projects. In his new role as Project Manager, Mr. Boundouki will be leading Alta Vista’s project management and business development efforts in its newly established New York City office.

Mr. Boundouki is a Professional Engineer with over eight years of experience in the construction, fabrication, and design of major structures including the Freedom Tower in New York and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. In addition, Mr. Boundouki has extensive experience with alternative delivery projects, including design-build projects and Public-Private Partnerships (P3).

“Rami has shouldered added responsibilities and increased workload while maintaining high levels of quality in all he takes on. His work ethic and commitment to excellence have earned him a well-deserved promotion.”

- Jinesh Mehta, PE, Vice President of Quality

Mr. Boundouki graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Columbia University in New York City and obtained his Master of Science from UC Berkeley, where he focused on structural behavior and seismic engineering.

About Alta Vista

Alta Vista is a Bay Area-based engineering firm that was recently recognized as the 20th fastest growing engineering firm in America by Inc. 5000. Alta Vista has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. Alta Vista’s services include: Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Construction Management, Program Management and Surveying.

Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions.

For more information about Alta Vista, visit the website at altavistasolutions.com

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PRESS RELEASE: CHP Clears Caltrans October 4, 2014

For Immediate Release

PRESS RELEASE

NUMEROUS MEDIA SOURCES REPORT: CHP CLEARS CALTRANS AND SUMMARILY DISMISSES RETALIATION COMPLAINTS BY AECOM, AMEC AND CALTROP EXECUTIVES

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—-Oct. 4, 2014, —The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has been cleared by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) of claims that the agency retaliated against whistleblowers according to several media outlets. The following headlines appeared late Friday evening after media providers were allowed access to a report on an investigation conducted by the CHP at the request of State Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly:

Sacramento Bee: CHP: No Retaliation or Violations of Law on Bay Bridge Job

San Francisco Chronicle: No Evidence of Illegal Retaliation by Bay Bridge Boss, CHP says

Oakland Tribune: CHP Investigation Clears Caltrans of Retaliation Against Whistleblowers Over Bay Bridge Woes

Associated Press: Agency Finds No Payback Over Bay Bridge Concerns

The SF Chronicle goes on to report that the CHP summarily dismissed retaliation complaints lodged by engineering firms AMEC, AECOM, and Caltrop. All three consulting firms had lodged complaints towards Caltrans after they were unsuccessful in winning contracts to perform quality inspections on the new bridge for Caltrans. Notably, the CHP found no wrongdoing in Caltrans’ replacement of quality-assurance firm MACTEC, since acquired by AMEC, whose top manager (Jim Merrill) in China had complained numerous times to media sources about welding work. Investigators said the replacement firm, which included Alta Vista Solutions, had been qualified for the job, and there was insufficient evidence that MACTEC/AMEC had been punished for finding problems with welding work.

“We thrive on competition and we stand behind our work,” Alta Vista President Patrick Lowry commented, “we continue to live by our internal company motto – Do Right.” Alta Vista has competed for and won the lead quality inspection contract three times since initially joining the project in 2008. “Our firm has stood solidly behind this project and our client from the moment we began our work. We were confident this issue would be resolved and are pleased that the press has responded swiftly to the thorough and comprehensive work done by the CHP,” Alta Vista CEO Dr. Mazen Wahbeh commented after reading the headlines.

While Caltrans has been cleared of any legal wrong doing, the media articles say the CHP found that communication needed to be improved and led to perception problems and distrust with some of the Bay Bridge staff. “Communication is a very important element in delivering quality projects,” Dr. Wahbeh commented. “While it may be true that Caltrans needs to improve, there is more than just one side in any dialogue. We have an opportunity here to both understand the value of good communication and to improve how we share information and work together.”

About Alta Vista

Alta Vista is a Bay Area-based engineering firm that was recently recognized as the 20th fastest growing engineering firm in America by Inc. 5000. Alta Vista Solutions has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. Alta Vista’s services include: Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Construction Management, Program Management and Surveying.

Please see our website for more information at www.altavistasolutions.com. Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions. Alta Vista’s client-focused philosophy—supported by uniquely qualified expertise and experience—delivers appropriate solutions to projects around the world.

For more information, visit altavistasolutions.com

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Final CHP Investigative Report on the SFOBB October 4, 2014



SUMMARY

On January 24, 2014, the California State Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing held an informational hearing entitled “Lessons Learned from the Development and Construction of the Bay Bridge.” Multiple California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) employees and private contractors who worked on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (SFOBB) testified at the hearing about the quality and safety of the eastern span as well as the cause of delays in construction. As a result of this hearing, concerns arose regarding the removal of a Caltrans Supervising Bridge Engineer and a quality assurance contractor, MACTEC, on the SFOBB. California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) Secretary Brian Kelly, requested the California Highway Patrol (CHP) investigate the reassignment of the Caltrans engineer and the loss of the contract by the private contractor (MACTEC) as possible violations of the California Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), Government Code § 8547, et seq., or any other associated violation of state law or policy.

CHP investigators assigned to the case were charged with evaluating whether administrative and/or criminal misconduct occurred during construction of the SFOBB. If administrative misconduct was identified, CHP investigators were directed to provide findings and make recommendations to CalSTA. If criminal misconduct was identified, CHP investigators were directed to take appropriate enforcement action pursuant to their jurisdictional authority prescribed in Government Code § 14615(b).

SCOPE

This investigation did not examine facts surrounding the merits of construction or component quality associated with the bridge, and does not purport to quantify or evaluate issues of longevity or safety.

The scope of this investigation was limited to a determination of whether any Caltrans employees violated the provisions of the WPA and associated criminal and civil statutes. Specifically, this investigation sought to answer the following questions:

1. Was a Caltrans Supervising Bridge Engineer, influenced or coerced from reporting his concerns and removed from the Bay Bridge project in violation of the WPA?

2. Were the private quality assurance contractor project manager and contract firm, MACTEC, influenced or coerced from reporting concerns and replaced on the Bay Bridge project in violation of the WPA?

…Continue reading Final CHP Investigative Report on the SFOBB.

NEWS FLASH: Alta Vista – 20th Fastest Growing Engineering Company in America by Inc. 5000 August 20, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista Hosts Special ASQ Exams August 6, 2014

For Immediate Release

PRESS RELEASE
Alta Vista Hosts Special ASQ Exams

Sacramento, Calif.—August 6, 2014—Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista) has become a Site Member of the American Society of Quality (ASQ). Alta Vista hosted the special ASQ exams for Certified Quality Auditor (CQA), Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) and Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) in July 2014 in our Sacramento and Los Angeles offices. A total of 15 Alta Vista employees went through one of these three exams and we are pleased to announce that they received 100% passing rate.

Alta Vista’s mission and culture is committed to continually seek improvement of our internal quality systems, deliver quality services to the client, and help our clients establish Quality Management Systems to improve the impact of their responses in regards to their services and ultimately, their projects.

Alta Vista continues to grow and assume ever-increasing roles in large transportation projects around the world. Recently, Alta Vista has been awarded new Construction Inspection work in support of the FHWA, along with being involved in several pursuits for Bridge Inspection work with various National Agencies. With these new opportunities, comes the need to understand new technical challenges and take on new leadership roles which Alta Vista has passionately pursued as part of their mission in emphasizing the importance of quality.

As a leader in the quality of infrastructures, Alta Vista continues to expand the technical knowledge and competence of their employees, enabling them to go above and beyond through offering new and relevant training and certifications. Alta Vista plans to continue offering ASQ training and special certification opportunities on a regular basis.

For more information, visit altavistasolutions.com

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Alta Vista’s response to CA Senate Hearing on SFOBB Lessons Learned August 5, 2014

Alta Vista’s response to CA Senate Hearing on SFOBB Lessons Learned

FAQ’s on AVS’ Involvement in QA for New E. Span of the SFOBB August 1, 2014

Factsheet
Related to Alta Vista Solutions’ Involvement
In Assuring Quality for the new East Span of the
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

Questions:

1. How did the consultant contract to provide Caltrans QA services transition from MACTEC to Caltrop/Alta Vista in 2008?

2. Was the Caltrop-Alta Vista team less rigorous than MACTEC (the previous consultant providing QA services on the Bay Bridge)?

3. Was the Caltrop-Alta Vista team qualified?

4. Did Alta Vista ever feel threatened for identifying issues?

5. Did Alta Vista recruit and hire MACTEC and/or Caltrans employees?

6. Did Alta Vista object to using different inspection methods to find cracks?

7. What was Alta Vista’s involvement with the failed anchor rods?

8. What aspect of Quality Assurance was Alta Vista responsible for?

9. What involvement did Alta Vista have in the pre-stressing tendons that became corroded?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

1. How did the consultant contract to provide Caltrans QA services transition from MACTEC to Caltrop/Alta Vista in 2008?

MACTEC used all of the resources in the original contract, which required that the contract be rebid. A multi-agency panel chose the Caltrop/Alta Vista team out of three qualified bidders for the new contract.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) procures Architectural and Engineering (A&E) consultant services for a defined amount of time and money before re-advertising the contracts in an open competitive selection process. MACTEC successfully competed for and won a contract to perform QA services for the California Toll Bridge projects in 2006. By the middle of 2008, MACTEC expended the funds in their contract. Based on standard practice Caltrans then re-advertised the contract.

Three firms submitted proposals for the new contract in August of 2008. In accordance with established processes and procedures, a panel of senior engineers and bridge professionals, from Caltrans, the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) and the California Transportation Commission (CTC), determined that all three proposals met the project requirements. Each team was interviewed and presented their personnel, project understanding, and project approach followed by answering a series of highly technical and specific questions related to the project. In a close vote, the 7-person panel selected the Caltrop-Alta Vista team.

The Caltrop-Alta Vista team offered a different management approach to assure quality of the new bridge, which the multi-agency selection panel preferred. Caltrop-Alta Vista created a comprehensive training program to ensure staff could work professionally and collaboratively with all parties when performing inspections. While documenting issues was important and necessary, success on the project would be based on preventing those issues from recurring. The selection panel also felt that the Caltrop-Alta Vista approach of placing inspection staff at the location where fabrication was occurring was critical to eliminating inefficiencies and developing strong relationships to successfully produce what would be one of the most complex steel projects ever attempted.

[Back to list of questions]

2. Was the Caltrop-Alta Vista team less rigorous than MACTEC (the previous consultant providing QA services on the Bay Bridge)?

No. In fact when Caltrop / Alta Vista fully took over from MACTEC in January of 2009, we increased the documentation of quality issues by 541% (as illustrated in figure 1 below). Our team created over 560,000 pages of quality-related documents. Most importantly, we ensured that any issue identified in those documents was resolved before the bridge was opened.


Figure 1. Quarterly summary of quality issues documented by Caltrans – METS.
[Back to list of questions]

3. Was the Caltrop-Alta Vista team qualified?

Yes. The Caltrop-Alta Vista team produced a Statement of Qualifications that was analyzed by a 7-person panel of engineers and bridge officials from Caltrans, the Bay Area Toll Authority, and the California Transportation Commission. This panel determined the Caltrop-Alta Vista team had the requisite qualifications and certifications. Additionally, due to the unique requirements of the Bay Bridge, the selection panel went beyond the normal process and requested a second submittal from the qualified firms. Caltrop-Alta Vista produced the requested certifications, further documenting the team’s qualifications. After being awarded the contract, the Caltrop-Alta Vista team was subjected to in-depth testing that concluded they possessed “the skill and determination” for the project.

[Back to list of questions]

4. Did Alta Vista ever feel threatened for identifying issues?

No. The reality was completely the opposite. It was our job to identify issues and we documented thousands of them in over 560,000 pages of documents. Our client did not always agree with our solutions, or follow our suggestions, but they allowed us to make them and did not criticize us or take steps to silence us when we identified issues. Ultimately, we stand behind the work that was done on the Bay Bridge.

[Back to list of questions]

5. Did Alta Vista recruit and hire MACTEC and/or Caltrans employees?

Fewer than 10% of Alta Vista employees had previously worked for MACTEC or Caltrans. Alta Vista Solutions is incredibly selective when hiring new members of our team. We look for the best-qualified professionals with the right attitude for success. Our employees have a wide range of backgrounds, including military, public, and private service. We have openly hired talented employees from competitors like MACTEC and public agencies like Caltrans (as shown in figure 2 below). We have also had our employees leave and join other teams. This is common practice in our industry.


Figure 2. Breakdown of how many people Alta Vista hired that previously had Caltrans or MACTEC experience.
[Back to list of questions]

6. Did Alta Vista object to using different inspection methods to find cracks?

No. In fact, Alta Vista identified multiple different types of inspection techniques and methodologies in the event more detailed evaluations were needed. However, the contractor opposed additional testing with a position that it was not clearly required by the welding codes referenced in its contract with Caltrans.

While Alta Vista did not object to the use of different inspection methods, we also acknowledged the lack of an unambiguous requirement in the contract to perform such testing. The disagreements surrounding this issue have been sensationalized and distorted by media to suggest that our client’s top management were willing to accept bridge components that did not conform to the contract requirements. The investigative reporter for the California Senate Transportation and Housing Committee spent ten pages of his report describing disagreements between passionate engineers who all wanted nothing more than to assure the safety of the traveling public.

Those disagreements only demonstrate that the process we followed included open communication between the Quality Assurance inspectors, the contractor, and Caltrans. Through that process, the team ultimately decided to convene a panel of world-renowned experts to assess the bridge components in question. That expert panel determined — in a 300 page report — that while there appeared to be tiny cracks in the components, those cracks would not affect the design life of the bridge and that no additional testing was required.

[Back to list of questions]

7. What was Alta Vista’s involvement with the failed anchor rods?

Alta Vista did not have any involvement in the quality assurance of the failed anchor rods. The delivery and installation of the anchor rods that eventually failed occurred before the Caltrop-Alta Vista team began working on the project in December of 2008.

Since the failure, Alta Vista Solutions has been assisting Caltrans to identify the cause of the failure and performing comprehensive testing to better quantify potential problems with the ASTM A345 BD anchor rods.

It should be noted that none of the anchor rods inspected and released by Alta Vista failed.

[Back to list of questions]

8. What aspect of Quality Assurance was Alta Vista responsible for?

Alta Vista has a contract with Caltrans supporting the Materials, Engineering, and Testing Services (METS) division within Caltrans. METS is responsible for the quality assurance of bridge components being manufactured or fabricated at various facilities throughout the world. Alta Vista was responsible for the quality assurance at sources of supply in 8 countries and 22 states in support of the new bridge.

The Quality Assurance of the construction at the jobsite is not the responsibility of METS or Alta Vista. This portion of the work is the responsibility of the Caltrans Division of Construction or the Office of Structure Construction. However, METS and Alta Vista perform quality assurance inspections of on-site welding and coatings when requested by Construction.

[Back to list of questions]

9. What involvement did Alta Vista have in the pre-stressing tendons that became corroded?

Alta Vista did not have any involvement in the quality assurance of the corroded pre-stressing tendons. As stated above, Alta Vista supported METS who was responsible for the quality assurance at sources of supply (not at the construction sites). The delivery and installation of the pre-stressing strand that corroded occurred before the Caltrop-Alta Vista team began working on the project in December of 2008.

[Back to list of questions]

Caltrans Response to the Final DeWolk Report July 30, 2014

Caltrans Response to the Final DeWolk Report

…Continue reading Caltrans Response to the Final DeWolk Report.

PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista Awarded FHWA-CFLHD Contract July 13, 2014

For Immediate Release

PRESS RELEASE

TEN MILLION DOLLAR FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION
INSPECTION CONTRACT AWARDED TO ALTA VISTA

LAKEWOOD, Colorado—June 13, 2014—The Department of Transportation-Federal Highway Administration’s Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD) has awarded Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista), up to a five-year, $10 Million IDIQ contract to provide Construction Inspection Augmentation Services within 14 western states. The CFLHD selected the Alta Vista team after reviewing qualifications from four experienced firms.

Alta Vista will support CFLHD by providing construction management support and construction inspection services for transportation construction projects throughout their 14 state footprint, from North Dakota to Texas and west across the Pacific into Hawaii, to ensure the goal of quality projects. Alta Vista’s President, Patrick Lowry, stated, “We are thrilled to be selected by CFLHD for this project. Our amazing team of professional engineers and inspectors are eager to work with our Federal partners and leverage our knowledge, expertise and experience to ensure quality on these much needed transportation projects.”

About Alta Vista

Alta Vista is a California-based engineering firm that was recently recognized as the 19th fastest growing businesses in the region by the San Francisco Business Times. Alta Vista has quickly differentiated itself through their client-focused philosophy and by providing a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. Alta Vista’s services include: Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Management, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Quality/Program Management, Surveying and Structural Health Monitoring.

Please see our website for more information at www.altavistasolutions.com.

Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions. Alta Vista is committed to meet the needs of the client with resources throughout the USA and around the globe.

For more information, visit altavistasolutions.com

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PRESS RELEASE: Alta Vista Awarded Caltrans D7 Contract February 28, 2014

For Immediate Release

PRESS RELEASE
Alta Vista Awarded Caltrans D7 Materials Sampling,
Testing and Inspection Support Services Contract

LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Feb. 28, 2014—The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has awarded Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista), a three-year, $6 Million contract to provide Materials Sampling, Testing and Inspection Support services throughout Caltrans District 7. After reviewing qualifications and conducting interviews, Caltrans selected Alta Vista from among three experienced firms.

Alta Vista will support District 7 by providing materials testing and plant inspection services for transportation construction projects throughout the district to ensure the goal of quality projects. Alta Vista’s President, Patrick Lowry, stated, “We are thrilled to expand our relationship with Caltrans and do more work in the dynamic Los Angeles region. Our amazing team of professional engineers and inspectors are ready to ensure quality and help realize some of the exciting projects coming online in Southern California.”

About Alta Vista

Alta Vista is a Bay Area-based engineering firm that was recently recognized as the 19th fastest growing businesses in the region by the San Francisco Business Times. Alta Vista Solutions has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. Alta Vista’s services include: Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering, Construction Materials Engineering, Materials Testing, Construction Management, Program Management and Surveying.

Please see our website for more information at www.altavistasolutions.com. Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions. Alta Vista’s client-focused philosophy—supported by uniquely qualified expertise and experience—delivers appropriate solutions to projects around the world. Alta Vista is beginning work to improve the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York, as well as assisting in the development of the quality management system for the California High-Speed Rail Project.

For more information, visit altavistasolutions.com

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PRESS RELEASE: Bay Bridge is Safe, New Report Concludes February 3, 2014

Bay Bridge is Safe, New Report Concludes
New Bay Bridge Report Contradicts Testimony at California Senate Hearing
Executive of Previous Engineering Firm Accused of Misleading Senate

Sacramento—A new report by the engineering firm that completed independent inspections on the Bay Bridge demonstrates a top executive from a prior engineering firm on the Bay Bridge provided misleading and inaccurate information about the Bay Bridge construction safety concerns in a California Senate Committee report and testimony.

Alta Vista Solutions, which competed for and eventually won the contract to perform independent quality assurance inspection for Caltrans on the new East Span of the Bay Bridge project, released a 14 page analysis that calls into question the accuracy of “The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge: Basic Reforms for the Future Preliminary Report,” authored by former KTVU Fox News television producer Roland De Wolk.

The Alta Vista report “agree(s) with the Preliminary Report’s primary conclusion that “transparency in the affairs of the public is paramount and leads to accountability,” but “corrects inaccuracies and misstatements” in the report to the Senate Committee on Transportation, which was largely based on interviews and testimony by two individuals that had been removed from the project and not worked on the new bridge construction for over five years. The first individual was Doug Coe, a former Caltrans engineering manager that had been removed from the project for being unable to work effectively with the project team. The second was James Merrill, a current executive at AMEC (previously MACTEC), the previous Bay Bridge engineering firm that lost the contract to Alta Vista Solutions.

Alta Vista Solutions sent its report to Senator DeSaulnier and the Senate Committee on Monday, February 3. The company’s report challenges the transparency and accountability of De Wolk’s report and said that “transparency was not a value that Mr. (James) Merrill promoted while he was actually on the job (with MACTEC).” In response to testimony by Mr. Merrill that he urged additional testing of the anchor rods that eventually failed, Alta Vista provides detailed engineering reports where Mr. Merrill’s company AMEC (MACTEC) recommended the anchor rods be accepted “as-is” without any additional testing. The report also notes that Caltrans has put forth an unprecedented testing program to determine whether the remaining anchor rods will perform as intended.

The new report describes the components of Caltrop/Alta Vista’s strategy to win the independent inspection contract in 2008 in an open and fair selection process that included independent panel members from three transportation agencies: the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), and Caltrans. Additionally, despite information to the contrary in the Preliminary Report and testimony before the Senate, the documentation provided demonstrates that the quality assurance inspection team (Caltrop/Alta Vista) selected in 2008 to replace MACTEC (AMEC) was found “to have the skill and the certification” necessary to assure quality of the new Bay Bridge.

The Alta Vista report concludes that “The Bay Bridge was built to the highest standards of safety and quality used to date, anywhere in the world. The notion that safety and quality were sacrificed in the interests of scheduling is simply incorrect; if anything, the exact opposite is true.”

A copy of Alta Vista’s full response to the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee can be found at http://altavistasolutions.com/news/.

Contact: Sam Singer
For Alta Vista Solutions
Phone: 415.336.4949
Email: Singer@SingerSF.com

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Alta Vista’s Response to the Senate Transportation Committee Preliminary Report February 3, 2014

Alta Vista’s Response regarding Senate’s Preliminary (DeWolk) Report January 24, 2014

Patrick Lowry, President of Alta Vista Solutions, responds to the Senate’s Preliminary (DeWolk) Report at the Senate Hearing on January 24, 2014.