September 2012
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Perfecting the protest

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Knowing how to submit bid protests can be a valuable tool

by Stephen M. Phillips
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If any of your work involves public bid construction, you should be familiar with the legal principles applicable to public bidding and bid protests. You may find yourself in a situation where you don't believe the low bidder has met the bid solicitation requirements or, conversely, another bidder may be challenging your bid and seeking to have the public agency throw out your low bid.

For example, say a solicitation is issued for reroofing a portion of a local high school. You probably think you have a good chance of landing the job at a decent price because the job is close to you, you're familiar with the school and you have ideas how the job can be done efficiently.

On bid day, you submit your sealed bid for $265,500, which is a tight price but a price you believe can result in a profitable job for you. To your dismay, you learn at the bid opening that you were the second-lowest of nine bidders and the low bid, from an out-of-state contractor, was $252,000. You are not familiar with the low bidder and don't recall seeing a representative of the low bidder at the mandatory pre-bid conference and walk-through held at the high school two weeks earlier. You ask to review the bid form and bid bond submitted by the low bidder and see the bid bond was signed by a representative of the surety but not the contractor.

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