The Alternative Bid – Dillemma or not?

An interesting article from a construction industry magazine is quoted below. It’s a tricky subject for govenment agencies. As a consultant who provides software solutions to manage these types of public bid issues, i’m interested in your experience and opinion with this issue. Thanks.


Alternative Bidding: Wise Budget Management or Manipulation?

Alternative bidding is an effective tool which enables a public project owner to craft a contractual scope of work which fits its budget. Alternative bidding is also a tempting means for owner manipulation of the outcome of the bidding process.

Traditional alternative bidding lists bid alternates which add or deduct items of work. The project owner, having seen the bids and bid prices, can select the most advantageous scope of work given the availability of funding. The project owner, having seen the bids, can also craft a scope of work which directs the contract to a particular bidder. Courts scrutinize alternative bidding with an element of skepticism.

A public project owner recently took alternative bidding a step further. The owner solicited bids for separate trade work bid packages and then, as alternatives, bundled the trade packages in a variety of combinations. A California court said this was a clear manipulation of the selection process. The owner knew the identity of each bidder and could easily favor or exclude bidders simply by selecting a bid package.

What are your thoughts? Is alternative bidding a legitimate practice, driven by the necessities of public funding limitations? Or is alternative bidding primarily a tool of manipulation, used to circumvent the requirements of the competitive bidding statutes?

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Jack K

All bid specifications must be finished. The government can look for very particular specifications and failing to meet up with these specifications according to their requirements can be expensive. This means that the documentation must be ideal and government bidding must be realistic.