A key ingredient of the competitive bidding process is transparency. Everyone has access to the required scope of work and the budget available to procure that work. Once sealed bids are opened, they become public information. When a bid is accepted for contract award, grounds for selection are stated on the record.
Transparency keeps the competitive bidding process honest. It also maintains public confidence in the integrity of the system. When procurement authorities refuse to operate in the open, it should be cause for concern.
In a recent California case, a public project owner provided a copy of the low bid to the second low bidder immediately after bid opening, enabling the second low bidder to get the low bid rejected. The low bidder asked to see the second low bidder’s submittal. The owner stalled. The low bidder was eventually provided with the documents, but only after its petition for injunctive relief had been denied. The low bidder then discovered that the second low bidder had the same problem of which it had complained regarding the low bidder. A court called this “favoritism most foul” on the part of the public project owner.
What is your experience regarding transparency in the public bidding process? Are decisions well documented and the documents available to all? Or, is information parsed out on a “need to know” basis? For those of you working for procurement authorities, what transparency mechanisms are in place to maintain both the appearance and substance of even competition? As always, I welcome all comments.
In next week's issue of Construction Claims Advisor . . .
- Owner Manipulated Bid Process with Alternative Combination Package
- Differing Site Condition Did Not Cause Settlement of Piles
- Arbitration Demand Not Extinguished by Statute of Repose
Bruce Jervis, Editor
Construction Claims Advisor