This is the first in a series of posts on bid protests in Pennsylvania. This post covers standing – who can file a bid protest – and when the protest must be filed.
For contracts awarded by a local entity, such as a township or a school district, a bid protest can be filed in Common Pleas Court only by a taxpayer of the entity awarding the contract. A disappointed bidder, who is not also a taxpayer, cannot file a bid protest with the Common Pleas Court. This rule of standing stems from the bedrock principle that the bidding laws are for the benefit of the public and taxpayers at large, and are not for the benefit of individual bidders. A bid protest on a local contract should be filed as soon as possible after the basis for the protest becomes known. If the contract has been awarded by the local entity, the bidder receiving an award of the contract must be named in the bid protest lawsuit.
For state contracts, the Pa. Procurement Code, at 62 Pa.C.S. § 1711.1, specifies that a bidder or prospective bidder who is “aggrieved in connection with the solicitation or award of a contract” may protest to the head of the purchasing agency in writing. A bid protest on a state contract must be filed within seven days after the bidder knew or should have known of the facts giving rise to the protest. If the protestant is a prospective bidder, the protest must be filed prior to the bid opening. In no event can a protest be filed later than seven days after the date the contract has been awarded. If a taxpayer wants to file a bid protest on a state contract, it can do so, but only by filing suit in the Commonwealth Court.
Bid protests can cover all aspects of the bidding process. Some of my later posts will cover potential areas for bid protests.