By Bruce Jervis
Public project owners are required to solicit competitive bids and proposals in part to assure favorable prices for construction work funded by the taxpayers. Sometimes, however, the lowest price might not be the best deal. If a price is unrealistically low, there is a significant risk that the contractor will perform deficient work and/or fail to complete the project.
The Court of Federal Claims recently considered an unrealistic price submitted by a small business contractor on a military construction contract. The procuring agency could not exclude the bidder from the competition without first referring the matter to the Small Business Administration for a “certificate of competency” responsibility determination.
Price realism can be evaluated in a number of ways: comparison against competing bids, comparison against past prices for similar work and comparison against independent government cost estimates. Do you think the issue of unrealistic pricing receives enough attention? Is the matter addressed effectively and consistently? Your comments are welcomed.