Bid Preparations / Bid Compliance / Bid Protests Lawyer in Maryland
Bidding on a government project is an entirely different process from bidding on a project in the private sector. Government projects have a very formal bidding process, with a complex set of rules and requirements that must be followed. In the private sector, the bidding process is less formal, and the entity requesting bids has greater latitude over how the process will work. That said, bid solicitations for private sector projects must still be done in compliance with state and local laws and regulations.
At Law Offices of Matthew S. Evans, LLC, we have extensive experience with all aspects of construction and real estate law. We focus almost exclusively on these areas of law, and we have in-depth knowledge of the complexities of Maryland state rules and regulations, and the steps those in the industry (as well as consumers) must take to ensure that their legal bases are fully covered. When it comes to bidding on a construction project, we work closely with clients through each stage of the process. We assist with bid preparations, bid compliance, bid protests, and related matters.
We represent developers, general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, manufacturers, and others who work in the construction industry. We work with developers and project managers who are soliciting bids for private projects to ensure that they have a legal and practical bidding process in place. We also work with contractors and subcontractors who want to bid on a private or public project. We can help prepare the bid and ensure that it is in compliance with the bidding rules and requirements. When necessary, we can help with filing a bid protest if there appears to be a legal violation in the way a government bid was solicited, evaluated, or awarded.
Bidding on Public Construction Projects in Maryland
As mentioned earlier, the bidding process for government projects is very formal, and there are set procedures that must be followed. Here is an overview of the general steps involved with a bid on a public project in Maryland:
- Bid Solicitation is Published: The owner of the project advertises the bid in various online and offline publications. Bid solicitation must be done in accordance with all local laws and regulations that are applicable to the public entity that owns the project.
- Procurement Document Review: Qualified contractors review the procurement documents to determine if they want to bid on the project. In some cases, a deposit or non-refundable fee may be required to obtain access to these documents.
- Attend Pre-Bid Meeting: If the contractor is interested in the project, they are often asked to attend a mandatory pre-bid conference to meet the project owner and tour the construction site.
- Bid Preparation: Contractor solicits bids from subcontractors and suppliers to determine the overall costs that will be incurred. After estimating costs, contractor prepares a sealed bid and submits it to the public entity. To ensure bid compliance with all guidelines and procedures, it is strongly advisable to consult a skilled attorney for the bid preparation process.
- Bid Opening: Bids are opened and read at a pre-determined time, date, and location. This process should be adequately documented to ensure fairness and transparency.
- Winning Bid Awarded: After all the bids are opened and read, the winning bid is chosen and awarded. The award is made to the qualified bidder who submits the lowest acceptable responsible bid, meaning one that is realistic, fully compliant, and accounts for all relevant factors.
- File Bid Protest (optional): If a contractor believes the public entity’s award decision was flawed and not in accordance with the stated selection criteria and/or governing rules and regulations, they can file a formal bid protest at the agency level or with the Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals (MSBCA).
One of the best mechanisms for ensuring that the public contract bidding process remains fair and competitive is a bid protest. Filing a bid protest gives the contractor the opportunity to have the procurement reviewed to determine whether or not the government (and the competing contractors) followed all rules and regulations. Protests can be filed before or after the contract has been awarded.
If a contractor or their attorney sees a violation of law in the way the procurement is being solicited, they can file a protest before the contract is awarded. Pre-award protests typically must be filed before bidding closes. There are a number of possible reasons for a pre-award bid protest, including:
- Vague and unclear instructions in the solicitation;
- Solicitation requirements that are prejudicial or in violation of the law;
- Project was improperly set aside for a specific set of contractors;
- There is a conflict of interest on the part of a contractor or government official.
After a public contract has been awarded, a contractor may protest if they believe the bid/proposal evaluation and awarding process was not lawful in some way. Post-award protests typically must be filed within 10 days of the contract being awarded. However, to ensure that the award is suspended, the protest usually must be filed within five days. Reasons for filing a post-award bid protest may include:
- Failing to evaluate bids in accordance with the evaluation criteria that was published;
- The contract was awarded to an ineligible contractor;
- The bid for which the contract was awarded was not technically acceptable;
- Failing to treat all bidders equally.
If you are considering a bid protest after losing a government contract in Maryland, it is important to act quickly and work with a seasoned construction law attorney. Your attorney can thoroughly investigate the facts to determine whether or not a protest would be the best course of action from both a legal and practical standpoint. This will depend heavily on the specific circumstances in your case.
On the other side, there are contractors who may encounter a bid protest from another contractor after they have just been awarded a public contract. In this situation, it is also very important to have strong legal representation. Although an attorney for the government will attempt to protect the award, they do not always have the experience necessary to prevail in these types of cases. To ensure that your interests are fully protected, it is best to get your own attorney.
Speak with a Seasoned Maryland Bid Preparation and Bid Protest Attorney
Bidding on public construction contracts is a complicated process, and contractors need an experienced attorney in their corner to advocate for their rights and interests. At the Law Offices of Matthew S. Evans, LLC, we have an in-depth understanding of construction and real estate law, and what is necessary to ensure that contractors and other players in these industries are legally protected. Call us today at 410-626-6009 for an initial consultation or send us a message through our web contact form for a case review. You may also visit us in person at our Annapolis office.