Recently I was asked, what rules govern competitive bidding? There are many different rules that govern public bidding in Pennsylvania, many of which can be found in the Commonwealth Procurement Code. Some govern the timing of bid awards and withdrawal of bids.
The primary “unwritten” rule of public bidding is the “level playing field” rule. This rule means that all bidders are treated the same, and are judged by a common standard that governs all bids that are received. A common standard implies universal specifications, freely accessible to all bidders, and not written in favor of a single bidder. The level playing field is violated where the public owner applies a different standard to the bids it receives, or awards a contract based upon unpublished or unadvertised standards, or otherwise deviates from the published bid instructions and bidding requirements. Read more
Starting this fall, in a move to make bidding more efficient and competitive, the City of Philadelphia will begin to accept electronic bids and contract proposals. Philadelphia officials hope to make all aspects of City contracting electronic-based – from vendor registration to bids and even contract signatures. The change will affect contracts for public works, contracts for non-professional services, and contracts for goods and equipment. Contracts for professional services contracts are already subject to e-bidding. Contractors who wish to bid for City contracts must register for the new program.
The new PHLContracts website can be found here.
Contractors can find registration information here.
An FAQ on the new program can be found here.
An article in The Philadelphia Inquirer on the new program can be found here.
If a public owner breaches its payment obligations to a public contractor and acts in bad faith in doing so, is the public contractor automatically entitled to an award of its attorney’s fees and a 1% penalty under section 3935 of the Procurement Code?
In a recently published opinion, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has ruled that such an award is discretionary, not automatic, reversing a 2014 Commonwealth Court decision which had held that a bad faith finding entitled the contractor to recover its attorney’s fees and the 1% penalty. Read more
If a public owner mandates that all bidders use PennBid, an electronic bidding system used by public owners in Pennsylvania, for receipt and tabulation of their bid prices, but also inexplicably requires each bidder to write out its base bid price in words and numbers, what bid form controls? The PennBid tabulation, or the handwritten bid form?
Suppose the PennBid tabulated base bid price is $100,000, but the bidder writes out $100,001? Which is the controlling bid price? Why, for that matter, would any public owner require two forms of bid pricing which only invites confusion and the possibility of conflicting prices?
In a recent, unreported decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the dismissal by the Board of Claims (Board) of a late-filed contractor claim. Under the Board’s jurisdictional statute, 62 Pa. C.S. § 1712.1(e), a formal statement of claim must be filed with the Board, either within 15 days of the mailing date of a final determination denying a claim, or within 135 days of the filing of a claim, whichever occurs first. Read more