Bidding on provincial, municipal and other public construction projects

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By Jim Lamzela

Special to Ontario Construction News

Bidding on public projects may appear to be a safer route to getting paid since the work is guaranteed payment. However, it also means it’s going to be a lot more competitive so you really need to be dialed-in and eliminate mistakes.

Every province, municipality and governmental agency has regulations governing its bidding process. These are related to regulations in terms of keeping the process transparent, competitive and secure.

Public agencies also go to great lengths to ensure that all potential bidders have equal access to bid opportunities and information. They provide project information and avoid meetings or phone calls with bidders, in an effort to prevent the appearance of favouritism or unequal access to information. The stakes are even higher for large, high-profile projects that may be politically controversial.

Procurement officials will disclose all bids when sealed bids are opened, including the winner which is another way to ensure all bidders were treated fairly. These decisions can also be challenged. When that happens it is called a bid dispute.

It is mandatory to post tenders publicly (the preferred way of doing this is through online sites). The challenge is having the time and resources to scour hundreds, if not thousands of city, state, county, municipal, educational websites every day looking for new opportunities. Not to mention the follow up required to identify updates and addendums, new bidders, meeting attendees, low bidders and awards.

Sites like DataBid make this information easily available through its online site. DataBid informs you of virtually 100 per cent of all public construction bid/tenders in one easy to use platform plus real time Bidders, Results and Awards so you never miss an opportunity to bid a public project.

Identify bidders, bid-results and awards for local public projects in your area

The following are some of the projects that public agencies handle:

  • New construction to renovation
  • Facilities and structures
  • Roads and highways
  • Dams
  • Utility infrastructure
  • Airports
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Ports

After a notice of award is received by a contractor, they have a period of time to sign a contract and to provide payment and performance bonds, and proof of insurance. Once that is done, the agency will issue a notice to proceed with the project.

Provinces and cities may also set standards for how contractors must treat workers. This could include how much paid sick and safe time they receive and demand that contractors pay all workers, companies and subcontractors on time at the prevailing wage. Public agencies may also have policies that prioritize hiring or contract award to people in their province or locality, disadvantage neighborhood, minorities, the disabled, veterans and business owned by people in these groups.

There are also programs in many provinces that are set up to support small-scale contractors in their state by making them aware of projects they might be qualified for.

Public projects usually require extensive documentation and forms. The same applies to large commercial construction. The smaller the project, the less demanding the project becomes.

Public bidding projects may have varying bidder requirements, such as being a pre-qualified bidder or being invited to bid. This makes it look similar to a private bid however, the bid will still follow public bidding laws. Public works projects such as province, county, city or school district, can all have different requirements and should be checked with their individual websites for more detailed requirements.

It is important that each contractor follow the correct procedure for bidding according to the rules of each province, county, city or school district by checking their websites for this information. These public websites will also provide information such as deadlines for work and what services the contractor will need to perform.

Jim Lamzela is DataBid.com’s president.

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