This post is one in a continuing series on the basic tenets of public bidding in Pennsylvania. The subject of today’s post is the contract award – when it must be made and who is entitled to the award.
Under the Pa. Procurement Code, 62 Pa.C.S. § 3911, the award of a public contract must occur within 60 days of the bid opening. This deadline can be extended by written consent signed by the bidder and the public entity. Thereafter, under 62 Pa.C.S. § 3912, once the contract is awarded, it must be executed by the public entity within 60 days of the award. The failure of the public entity to meet these deadlines, absent a written waiver by the successful bidder, will release the successful bidder from any liability on its bid and will entitle all bidders to the return of any posted bid security.
Who is entitled to the contract award? Ordinarily, the lowest responsive and responsible bidder is entitled to the award of the contract. For my post on bid responsiveness, click here. For my post on bidder responsibility, click here. Where the lowest bidder is either non-responsive or non-qualified, the contract may be awarded to a bidder whose price is not the lowest. In Pearlman v. City of Pittsburgh, 304 Pa. 24, 155 A. 118 (1931), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania observed that, once the pubic entity has determined the lowest responsible bidder, discretion ends, and the contract, if it is to be awarded, must be given to that bidder.