Monday, July 29, 2013

Avoid Changes to Bid Documents After Bids Are Received

Public bidding takes careful planning and thought up front before the bid documents are ever published.   

Basis of bidding:  The bid documents become the basis of bid prices submitted by contractors, and changes after bids have been received undermines the integrity of the competitive bidding process, and may result in bid protests and audit findings.

No changes after bids:  Here are two provisions that should not be changed after bids have been received:
  • Bidder responsibility:  Often, public agencies will include in bid documents bidder responsibility criteria that the low bidder must meet.  Waiving these requirements after bid opening and prior to award may result in bid protests.  Including the responsibility criteria in the bid documents may necessarily limit what bidders choose to submit a bid, but then eliminating the requirements after bids have been received is not a fair or transparent process.  
Yakima County (WA) recently waived bidder responsibility criteria for a jail project after bids were received but prior to award, and their action has resulted in a bid protest.  Click here to read more about the bid protest.
  • Bonding and insurance:  If bid documents for a public construction project require the successful bidder to provide a payment and performance bond and evidence of insurance prior to execution of the contract, these requirements should then not be waived for the low bidder.  Providing bonds and insurance are part of the cost of a contractor doing business and these costs should be built into a bid price.  By waiving these requirements after bids have been received, a public agency changes the basis of bidding and creates an uneven competitive bidding environment. 
Plan ahead:  Think carefully about your bid documents as you are developing them.
  • Reasonable bidder responsibility criteria:  If you've included any bidder responsibility criteria included in the bid documents, are they reasonable?  Are there contractors in the market who can meet the criteria?   
  • Bidder responsibility checklist:  Click here to review the Checklist for Developing Supplemental Bidder Responsibility Criteria that I developed to help public agencies in Washington manage the provisions of RCW 39.04.350.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2013 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

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