7 CFR 1726.201 - Formal competitive bidding.
Formal competitive bidding is used for distribution, transmission, and headquarters facilities, and may be used for generation facilities. The borrower must use the following procedure for formal competitive bidding:
(a)Selection of qualified bidders. The borrower (acting through its engineer, if applicable) will compile a list of qualified bidders for each proposed contract. The borrower will send invitations to bid only to persons or organizations on its QBL for the specific project (see § 1726.23).
(b)Invitations to bid. The borrower (acting through its engineer, if applicable) is responsible for sending out invitations to prospective bidders, informing them of scheduled bid openings and taking any other action necessary to procure full, free and competitive bidding. The borrower should send out a sufficient number of invitations in order to assure adequate competition and so that at least three bids will be received. Subject to the foregoing criteria, the determination of how many and which bidders will be permitted to bid will be the responsibility of the borrower.
(c)Evaluation basis. Any factors, other than lowest dollar amount of the bid, which are to be considered in evaluating the proposals of qualified bidders (e.g., power consumption, losses, etc.) must be stated in the “Notice and Instructions to Bidders.” The borrower will not evaluate a bidder's performance record, safety record, and similar factors when evaluating a bid from a qualified and invited bidder. Such factors are to be considered when determining whether to include a particular bidder on the qualified bidders list.
(d)Handling of bids received. The borrower or the engineer, as applicable, will indicate, in writing, the date and time of receipt by the borrower or the engineer on the outside envelope of each bid and all letters and other transmittals amending or modifying the bids. Any bid received at the designated location after the time specified must be returned to the bidder unopened.
(e)Bid openings. Bid openings are generally conducted by the engineer in the presence of bidders and a representative of the borrower and the borrower's attorney. Each bona fide bid must be opened publicly and reviewed for any irregularities, errors, or exceptions. It must be verified that any addendum or supplement to the specification has been acknowledged by the bidder. The adequacy of bid bonds or certified checks must be verified at this time.
(f)Conditions affecting acceptability of bids. The borrower must take the following specified action if any of the following exist:
(1)Fewer than three bona fide bids received. If fewer than three bona fide bids are received for the contract project, the borrower must determine that all reasonable measures have been taken to assure competition prior to awarding the contract. This determination must be documented and such documentation submitted to RUS where required by subpart A of this part. The borrower may, however, elect to reject all bids, make changes in the specification or the qualified bidders list or both and invite new bids.
(2)Significant error or ambiguity in the specification. If a significant error or ambiguity in the specification is found which could result in the bidders having varying interpretations of the requirements of the bid, the borrower must either issue an addendum to each prospective bidder correcting the error or ambiguity before bids are received, or reject all bids and correct the specification. If a significant error or ambiguity in the specification is discovered after the bids are opened, the borrower must reject all bids, correct the specification and invite new bids.
(3)Minor errors or omissions in the specification. If minor errors or omissions in the specification are found, the borrower must issue an addendum to each prospective bidder correcting the error or omission prior to opening any bids. After bid opening, the error or omission must be corrected in the executed contract.
(4)Minor errors or irregularities in bid. The borrower may waive minor errors or irregularities in any bid, if the borrower determines that such minor errors or irregularities were made through inadvertence. Any such minor errors or irregularities so waived must be corrected on the bid in which they occur prior to the acceptance thereof by the borrower.
(5)Non-minor error or irregularity in bid. If a bid contains a non-minor error or irregularity, the bid must be rejected and the bid price must not be disclosed.
(7)No acceptable price quoted. If none of the bidders quote an acceptable price, the borrower may reject all bids.
(g)Evaluating bids. The borrower (acting through the engineer, if applicable) must conduct the evaluation of bids on the basis of the criteria set out in the “Notice and Instructions to Bidders.” The contract, if awarded, must be awarded to the bidder with the lowest evaluated responsive bid.
(h)Announcement of bids. If possible, the borrower will announce bids at the bid opening. However, where extensive evaluation is required, the borrower may elect to adjourn and make formal written announcement to all bidders at a later time. Any discrepancy in a rejected bid must be indicated in the bid announcement.
(1) Resolve to award the contract to the lowest evaluated responsive bidder; or
(2) Reject all bids.
(j)Certification by the borrower and its engineer. The borrower shall certify and the engineer shall certify as follows: “The procedures for formal competitive bidding, as described in 7 CFR 1726.201, were followed in awarding this contract.” The certification executed by and on behalf of the borrower and its engineer shall be submitted to RUS in writing where required by subpart A of this part.