A government agency procures services through publicly soliciting bids. Once the solicitation period ends, the bids will be scored to determine which bidder will win the contract. During the scoring period, bidders are determined to be “responsible” or in otherwise capable of completing the project as it is required. Bidders are considered “irresponsible,” if they have previous criminal records, a history of not completing tasks on time and to expected standards, or are unlicensed. The bids are also classified as “responsive” or “non-responsive.” The protocol for how the bid should be completed is clearly outlined in the solicitation package. If any required information is left out or the document is not delivered as specified, the bid is considered “non-responsive” and should be rejected.
After unqualified bids are eliminated, the official scoring will commence. At this time, the agency will gather final tallies and determine which bidder has won the contract. Bidders, who are directly affected by the decision, may protest the bid if they believe that the decision was made improperly for reasons such as favorability, not removing irresponsible bidders and non-responsive bids, or a mistake by either the scoring committee or winning bidder.
This process, however, comes along with very strict guidelines, so it is important to understand how these steps work. A mistake in filing a bid protest could result in forfeiting your chance of an agreeable outcome, so bid protests are best handled with the assistance of a contractor lawyer in Sarasota, who is familiar with the process.
Step 1: File Notice of Intent to Protest
The notice of intent to protest must be filed within 72 hours of the bid winner being announced. This document serves as a preliminary notification and should include the solicitation name and number, along with a declaration that a formal written protest will follow.
Step 2: File Formal Written Protest
The formal written protest must be filed 10 days from the date of the preliminary notification. This document should be very specific about the reasons for the bid protest and should include proof to back up the claim. The formal written notice should include case law, statutes, and legislation that relates to the bid, which is why it is best to have this document drafted by your contractor lawyer in Sarasota.
Step 3: Post Protest Bond
In most cases you will be required to file a bond payable to the government agency as validation that your claim is legitimate, and not being filed to slow down the project. According the Florida Statutes and the Florida Administrative Code, the bond should be equal to 1% of the contract. If the bond is required, but has not been filed, the agency must send notification that the bond has not been received. If this bond is not received after this notification, the agency can dismiss the bid protest and move forward with awarding the contract to the first-ranked bidder.
Step 4: Determine Best Method to Resolve Bid Protest
After filing the bond and the formal written protest, the government agency is required to schedule a meeting between all affected parties and try to negotiate a resolution. If a negotiation cannot be reached, the case will continue on and be presented to an administrative law judge in Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH).t.
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.