Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Use of Mandatory Pre-Bid Meetings

Should you ever use a mandatory pre-bid meeting for a public works project? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a meeting?

Generally speaking, there may be occasions where it is appropriate to use a mandatory pre-bid meeting. For example, you may have a particularly complex project or one where there the access to view the project is restricted or secure. However, use mandatory pre-bid meetings with caution as they can cause unintended consequences.

If you decide to dictate a mandatory pre-bid meeting, make sure you state very clearly in the bidding documents and advertisement the time and place of the meeting. You should also be very clear what the word "mandatory" means: you will not accept bids from bidders who did not attend the meeting. You may also want to consider mentioning in the bidding documents your business reasons for making the meeting mandatory; this could end up being helpful in the event there is a protest related to your acceptance or non-acceptance of a bid.

If possible, try to schedule more than one mandatory meeting in order to give bidders with a scheduling conflict the opportunity to attend. This not only may reduce the possibility of a protest, but may also be beneficial to the bid prices received. If only one bidder shows up to just one mandatory pre-bid meeting, they will then know that they have no competition, and their bid price will not be as competitive. On the other hand, if you have more than one mandatory pre-bid meeting, make sure you communicate the exact same information to the attendees at each meeting, and document the issues raised and addressed through an addendum.

It will be critical to keep an accurate sign-in list of those attending the mandatory pre-bid meeting so that you will know who bids may be accepted from.

To my knowledge, no courts in Washington State have addressed a situation in which a public agency refused to accept the bid of a bidder who didn't attend the mandatory pre-bid meeting, so it is somewhat uncertain how such a case may turn out. Some people may argue that having a mandatory pre-bid meeting restricts the bidding pool in a manner not permitted by public bidding laws. However, if you have valid business reasons for doing so and manage the process appropriately, it may be beneficial to your project to have a mandatory pre-bid meeting.

The decision of whether to have a mandatory pre-bid meeting should be made separately for each project, based on the particular circumstances of the project, and then the process should be managed very carefully.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Draft Bidder Responsibility Guidelines Online for Comment

The Capital Projects Advisory Review Board (CPARB) has posted to their website the draft Guidelines for bidder responsibility, in response to the requirements of SHB 2010. Comments will be received until October 3rd. There are also appendices to the Guidelines that have not been posted yet as the Task Force on Bidder Responsibility has not finalized these yet. The Task Force will meet next on October 2nd, and CPARB's Industry-Wide Subcommittee on October 5th. The goal is for CPARB to adopt the Guidelines at their October 11th meeting.

If you have any questions or comments about the Guidelines or what to do in order to implement the new legislation, please let me know. I would be glad to provide complimentary assistance on this issue.

Certificate Awarded

On Tuesday, September 18th, I received a certificate from the APWA/MRSC training program for attending more than 30 hours of training. I've also enjoyed teaching a number of the classes for this program. Here's a picture of me receiving the certificate.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Checklist for Mandatory Bidder Responsibility

Part of the draft Suggested Guidelines for Bidder Responsibility that are being developed by the Capital Projects Advisory Review Board (CPARB) includes a checklist to help agencies monitor compliance of a bidder with the mandatory bidder responsibility criteria of SHB 2010. If you'd like a copy of the checklist, please e-mail me and I'd be glad to send it to you.

CPARB will consider the Suggested Guidelines at their Thursday meeting this week. I hope they will adopt the Guidelines, but the appendices still need additional work and won't be considered this week by CPARB. The appendices will need to wait until CPARB's meeting next month.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Change in Dept. of Revenue Release Threshold

Substitute House Bill 1328 was approved by the Legislative in the spring. One of the things this new law does is to increase the dollar threshold for when public agencies must obtain a release from the Washington State Department of Revenue. The Revenue release verifies that the contractor on a public works project has paid state excise taxes, and must be obtained by public agencies prior to release of retainage to the contractor. The legislation increases the threshold from $20,000 to $35,000. SHB 1328 went into effect on July 22, 2007.

According to the Department of Revenue, for any public works contract awarded prior to July 22, 2007, the $20,000 threshold applies. The new $35,000 threshold only applies for public works projects awarded on or after July 22, 2007.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Update on Bidder Responsibility Guidelines

The Task Force on Bidder Responsibility Guidelines will meet on Wednesday, September 5th, as part of trying to finalize its recommendations for the Guidelines. The Guidelines will be a helpful tool to public agencies in implementing the recently passed State law (SHB 2010).

On Friday, September 7th, the Industry-Wide Subcommittee of the Capital Projects Advisory Review Board (CPARB) will meet to consider the recommendations of the Task Force.

Then next Thursday, September 13th, CPARB will meet, hopefully to review and approve the Guidelines. Once approved, the Guidelines will be published on CPARB's website.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Showcase 2007 - Business Conference and Opportunity Fair

The Northwest Minority Business Council's "Showcase 2007" will be held on Monday, September 24th, 2007 at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle.

This Business Conference and Opportunity Fair includes business seminars and and opportunity for minority businesses to interact with major corporations and public agencies.

If your public agency is looking for opportunities to explain to the minority business community how to do business with your agency, this is a great opportunity to explore. Visit the Northwest Minority Business Council's website for more details.