Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How Should Addenda Be Acknowledged? Let Me Count the Ways

A standard feature of every Bid Form should be a place for bidders to acknowledge that they have received any Addenda issued during the bidding process.  

What is the bid based on?  It is important that bidders acknowledge their receipt of these changes to the original bid documents so it is clear that they have based their bid on the revised bid documents with the Addenda issued.

Basic principles:  In developing a Bid Form, public agencies should keep in mind a couple of basic principles:
  • Less is Better:  In the last minute rush of developing and submitting a bid, bidders often make inadvertent errors.  Bid Forms that do not ask for too much information reduce the risk of errors.
  • Error proof the Bid Form:  Think about the ways that bidders might make mistakes on the Bid Form and develop the form with the least room for possible errors.
Different options of addenda acknowledgement:  Public agencies have a variety of practices of how to obtain the bidders' acknowledgement of Addenda receipt, some of which are better than others.  The following represent seven basic models for how public agencies often request acknowledgement of Addenda:

Option 1:   In my mind, this is the best format for obtaining the bidders' acknowledgement of Addenda.  It only requires a check in the appropriate box(es), and doesn't require them to write in numbers.

Option 2:  This is a good option as well, but requires a little more work for the bidder to fill in the numbers.

Option 3:  This option introduces some ambiguity.  What if the bidder simply writes "all" or writes "1 - 3," or something similar?  Is the bid responsive?

Option 4:  Part of why a public agency wants the bidders to acknowledge receipt of Addenda is to ensure they received and based their bid on all of the Addenda.  In other words, did they have the complete set of bid documents?  If the Bid Form requests a range of Addenda, it raises the question of whether the bidder necessarily received all of the Addenda within the range, an issue addressed by Options 1 and 2.

Option 5:  Under this option, the bidder is not required to specifically acknowledge any Addenda numbers, and there is no alternative for them to note that they didn't receive some of the Addenda.  This may become an issue during construction when the bidder finds they based their bid on less than the complete bid documents.

Option 6:  Requiring the bidder to also note the date of the Addenda is unnecessary, and introduces a further element for a non-responsive bid.  All Addenda already have a date when it was issued.  What is the value of requiring the bidder to tell the public agency the date of the Addenda?  What happens if the bidder fails to include the date, or if the date they've listed is inaccurate for a specific Addendum? 

Option 7:  This option is similar to Option 6, except that it also requires that the bidder list the Name of the Recipient.  Should this be an individual's name or the bidder's business name?  What is the purpose of requiring this?  If the Bid Form is signed by an authorized representative of the bidder, they are acknowledging for the firm that they have received the Addenda without listing someone's name.  I've also seen bid forms in which a public agency, instead of requesting the Name of Recipient, requires a signature of receipt for each Addendum. 

Evaluate your bid form:  Is your Bid Form clear in requiring acknowledgement of receipt of all Addenda?  Do you have a different practice from what I've outlined above that works well for your agency?  Be deliberate and thoughtful about how you construct your Bid Form to make it simple, and reduce the possibility of errors or mistakes.

Bonus:  Remember that "Addendum" is singular and "Addenda" is plural.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2013 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC 

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