The federal government awards billions of dollars every year in construction contracts. These projects cover everything from constructing government buildings to improving infrastructure to even classified jobs. To maintain fairness and impartiality in rewarding these lucrative jobs, the federal government is required to employ a highly regulated sealed bidding process.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) oversees the sealed bidding process, ensuring that all proposals adhere to employment regulations like affirmative action and minimum wage. Contractors may have a better chance of securing these profitable jobs with a clear understanding of the process and expectations.
THE SEALED BID SOLICITATION PROCESS
Government agencies seeking contractors first issue an Invitation for Bids (IFB). The IFB contains all relevant details about the project, regulated by FAR rules for accuracy and clarity. The agency then advertises the IFB in trade journals, contractor mailing lists, the federal government’s Commerce Business Daily (CBD) and elsewhere. Contractors can then begin to submit bids.
Once the deadline to submit bids has passed, the agency’s Contracting Officer reads them aloud in public to ensure transparency. Regulators examine the offers for mistakes, clarity and adherence to the expectations outlined in the IFB. If contractors made mistakes in drafting their bid or fail to understand the demands of the IFB, the reviewers will reject the offer, regardless of cost. The CO then awards the contract to the lowest qualified bid.
After revealing the winning contractor, the government requires a final review called an “affirmative finding of responsibility.” The FAR determines that the winning contractor:
- has the funds necessary to complete the job;
- will comply with the performance schedule and deliver on time;
- maintain a solid performance record that emphasizes integrity;
- possesses the required experience, accounting, technical expertise, operational ability, and accommodating facilities;
- is eligible to receive a government contract award under applicable law.
The FAR may also review price considerations based on location, added transportation costs and applicable taxes. If a different bidder appears more advantageous after this evaluation, the FAR will award them the contract. The CO then sends the winning bidder the document and closes the process.
DO NOT OVERLOOK LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS
Much of the bidding process can get hung up on hidden regulations or agency quirks. Securing a lawyer familiar with contract law can help draft a comprehensive bid, work with the FAR and help with research.