Asking Questions in the Public Bidding Process
In public procurements, the specifications contained in the bid documents such as an Invitation for Bid or Request for Proposals, along with local codes or statutes, generally govern the process. They are the instructions to the bidders and will help shape the responses. Sometimes the specifications are not clear, or lead to questions from the potential bidders. Some procurements may allow such vendors to pose questions to the owner agency to clarify any misunderstandings.
Many advertised procurements will specify who to send the questions to. It is important to follow the instructions so as not to violate a cone of silence, and to ensure that a response is provided. It is also important to submit the questions within the time period provided. Questions posed after the imposed deadline may not be responded to. Responses to vendors’ questions are often posted as addendums to the specifications, and become part of the procurement guidelines. Questions can range from just about anything covered, or not covered in the specifications, including qualification issues, measurements or materials issues, or related information.
As always, be sure to check the specifications for instructions about asking questions about the project.