Avoiding Non-Responsive Alternate Bids — What a Difference a Single Letter Makes!

Kegler Brown Construction Alert

School construction contracts are awarded to the “lowest, responsive and responsible bidder.” To be “responsive” the bid must comply with the bid instructions in all material respects. Any material deviation that gives a bidder a competitive advantage (i.e. on price) renders the bid non-responsive.

Unfortunately, many contractors’ otherwise low bids are being deemed non-responsive on school projects because they are filling in “N/A” or “No bid” with respect to bid alternates that the bidder believes have no price ramifications, rather than “N/C” or “No Charge” or “$0” as directed by the bid instructions. A law firm advising many school districts has taken the position that such a deviation (“N/A” rather than “N/C”) somehow could give the bidder a competitive advantage (by allowing the contractor to later seek a change order for the alternate if accepted) and therefore makes the bid non-responsive.

Therefore, contractors are strongly cautioned to strictly follow the bid instructions and make sure the exact proper notation is made in the alternate bid form in order to ensure a responsive bid.