In a decision issued on July 20, 2017, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld the City of Allentown’s use of the Request for Proposals (RFP) process in a contract award.
In 2015, Allentown issued an RFP for the award of a long-term solid waste and recyclables contract. Previously, Allentown had used an Invitation to Bid (ITB) process for the same contract. When a contract award was ultimately made to Waste Management of Pennsylvania, Inc., two bidders filed for an injunction, arguing that Allentown’s use of the RFP process was contrary to law. The trial court denied the injunction and an appeal was taken.
On appeal, the bidders argued that the Allentown Home Rule Charter required that Allentown use the ITB process and that various city codes did not permit the use of the RFP process. The bidders’ arguments were a bit off the mark, as Allentown’s Home Rule Charter requires that it use “competitive processes” for City contracts, but does not mandate the ITB process and does not prohibit the RFP process.
In its unreported decision, the Commonwealth Court sided with Allentown and rejected the bidders’ arguments, finding that the applicable administrative law did not require the use of the ITB process for “service” contracts. While the Commonwealth Court did not address whether the RFP process was a “competitive process,” as that issue was deemed waived, it is unlikely that such an argument would have prevailed, as an RFP process has all of the hallmarks of competition.
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