Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a telephone call or a question from someone asking general bid protest questions. While a bid protest dispute will largely differ based on whether it is a local, state or federal project, here are some ways you can prepare:
- Be prepared to follow the rules. Public entities such as a state department of transportation usually make their own rules and procedures pertaining to bid protests. It is absolutely necessary to understand and comply with the applicable rules and procedures … whether the guidelines relate to notice, timing, basis, and supporting documentation. You will also find that some states tend to have more protests than others, which may give you an understanding on the "climate" for how a protest will be received by the agency.
- Be prepared for a quick ride. Depending on your state, there may or may not be a public notice period for an award of a contract. However, if your company is a disappointed bidder, you will want to be prepared to act as quickly as possible following bid opening. Some states, like California, post information about their contract awards and bid protests on their state website.
- Be prepared to post a bond. Many states such as Florida require a protester to post a bid protest bond securing payment of the costs associated with the bid protest. This is usually a statutory requirement and the failure to post a bond can be grounds for rejecting the protest.
Most of all … Be prepared to fight. If a protest is timely filed, in most situations the contract will not be awarded by the public agency until the issue is resolved. However, in some instances, you may be required to seek a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction prohibiting the award of the contract pending a full hearing.