Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why Are Headers and Footers Important for Bid Documents?

The formatting and structure of bid documents is important to prevent disputes during bidding and during the term of the contract.  There are at least four pieces of information that should be included in either the header or footer of every page of the specifications.

Page numbers:  There are three ways that I've seen page numbers addressed in bid documents:
  • No page numbers:  I was recently reviewing a draft set of bid documents that did not include any page numbers.  As I read through the document and referred back to previous pages I had read, I quickly got confused about what order the pages were supposed to be in.  The risk for a public agency of not including page numbers is that a bidder (or later the contractor) may argue they did not have all of the pages of the bid documents and thus didn't account for certain things in their bid price.
  • Page numbers:   Sometimes, a public agency will number the pages of each section.  The risk of this approach, however, is almost the same as not including any page numbers.  If the section is a 15 page section, and each page is numbered "page 1," "page 2," etc., the bidder has no way of knowing whether they have received all of the pages of the section.  Their set of bid documents may only have 12 pages, and they would not know that any pages were missing.
  • Page x of y: Numbering pages of each section in the header or footer of the document with "page x of y" is the best practice and makes it most clear to the bidder how many pages are actually included.  It is an effective safeguard against errors that may occur in photocopying and assembling the bid documents.
Section name and number:  For ease of reference, the header or footer of each page should include the section name and number, so a reader of the documents can quickly know what section they're reading.

Project name and number:  It is important that each page include the project name and number.  In the event of a dispute either during bidding or construction, it is important for the public agency to be able to clearly identify what documents were part of the bid and the contract.  Without a project name and number, disputes may arise as to what provisions are really applicable to the project. 

Date of specifications:  Just as it is important to include the project name and number, the date of the specifications and drawings is also an important piece of information to include on each page of the bid documents.  In executing a contract, it is important to specify what documents constitute the applicable documents for the project. Here's an example of what this might look like in a contract:
Header format:  The following is an example of what a header might look like that would include page numbers, section name and number, project name and number, and the date of the specifications:

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

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