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Work with experienced attorney to address issues surrounding construction contract bidding, P.2

In our previous post, we mentioned that the rules governing contract bidding are different for public contracts and private contracts. Specifically, the bidding process on public contracts is governed by greater formality and more rules, among which is the some variation of the rule that a bid must be selected based on the lowest responsible bid.

A recent example of a case where this issue came up is the bidding for a contract to paint bridge approaches. The Delaware River Port Authority ended up rejecting a $17.9 million bid from a Baltimore firm, selecting instead an Ohio firm which made a higher bid. Subsequently, the Baltimore firm sued to prevent the contract from moving forward. 

The judge handling that case blocked the contract on the grounds that the Port Authority failed to follow its own procurement rules and to act transparently in the bidding process. The judge said the agency’s decision was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable,” which is the standard courts use when reviewing whether agency actions are in compliance with the law.

The judge also ordered that the contract should be given to the Baltimore firm. That part of the decision was overturned on a later appeal, but every other aspect of his decision was determined to be correct. Following the decision, the judge issued an order that the Port Authority rebid the contract.

Contract bidding, as we mentioned before, is an important phase of a construction project, and it must be done well to ensure the project is a financial success. Contractors and owners should, of course, always work with experienced legal counsel to ensure they have guidance in navigating the laws surrounding contract bidding, and to ensure they have solid guidance protecting their interests in the bidding process. 

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