Alternative bidding is an effective tool which enables a public project owner to craft a contractual scope of work which fits its budget. Alternative bidding is also a tempting means for owner manipulation of the outcome of the bidding process.
Traditional alternative bidding lists bid alternates which add or deduct items of work. The project owner, having seen the bids and bid prices, can select the most advantageous scope of work given the availability of funding. The project owner, having seen the bids, can also craft a scope of work which directs the contract to a particular bidder. Courts scrutinize alternative bidding with an element of skepticism.
A public project owner recently took alternative bidding a step further. The owner solicited bids for separate trade work bid packages and then, as alternatives, bundled the trade packages in a variety of combinations. A California court said this was a clear manipulation of the selection process. The owner knew the identity of each bidder and could easily favor or exclude bidders simply by selecting a bid package.
What are your thoughts? Is alternative bidding a legitimate practice, driven by the necessities of public funding limitations? Or is alternative bidding primarily a tool of manipulation, used to circumvent the requirements of the competitive bidding statutes. As always, I invite your comments.
Featured in Next Week's Construction Claims Advisor . . .
- Engineer Recovers for Extra Work Despite Lack of Written Authorization
- Contractor Defaulted after 95 Percent Completion
- Unlicensed Subcontractor Bound by Agreement Regardless of Contractor’s Knowledge
Bruce Jervis, Editor
Construction Claims Advisor