Florida Construction Bid Protests: What You Must Know Before Filing

When you’ve submitted a diligent and compliant bid for a public construction project in Florida, it can be disheartening to discover that the contract will be awarded to another bidder. However, beyond the disappointment, it may be in violation of the law for a governmental entity to select an alternative bid. There are specific prerequisites for bids, and Florida law permits bid protests if a contractor believes that the award was not made in accordance with the legal criteria. The bid protest process is notably intricate, entailing various deadlines, regulations, and associated fees. Acting promptly is crucial when pursuing legal action, and there are inherent risks to consider before proceeding. Engaging a qualified Florida bid protests attorney to provide guidance and handle the requisite tasks is advisable. In practical terms, there are several factors to ponder before initiating a bid protest in Florida.

Understand the Bid Protest Process

Before proceeding, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the bid protest process in Florida. Each state has its own rules and regulations governing the procurement process and bid protests. In Florida, the process may involve specific steps, deadlines, and requirements that you must adhere to. Familiarize yourself with Florida’s procurement laws, as well as local regulations, which may differ depending on the county or municipality.

Review the Grounds for a Bid Protest

Carefully review the basis for your bid protest and gather evidence to support your claims. Your protest should be based on legitimate concerns and not just dissatisfaction with the outcome.

Assess the Strength of Your Case

It’s essential to evaluate the strength of your bid protest case. Are there clear violations or irregularities in the procurement process that can be substantiated? Consult with legal counsel experienced in construction and procurement law to get an objective assessment of your case’s viability.

Adhere to Deadlines

Florida has strict deadlines for filing bid protests. Ensure that you understand and adhere to the timelines outlined in the solicitation documents and Florida law.

Establish Qualification as a Protestor

To file a bid protest, you must demonstrate that you have valid grounds for disputing the award, a concept known as “standing.” Essentially, this means you must have been a genuine contender to secure the bid for your company. The two important criteria for standing are:

  • The bid must come from a responsible bidder, a contractor that possesses the skills and resources to do the job.
  • Your bid must be responsive, in the sense that it complies with all criteria listed in the bid solicitation documents.

Timing is Critical

Upon the announcement of a notice of intent to award a bid, contractors have a mere 72-hour window to commence the bid protest process. The initial filing consists of a notice of intent to protest, which should outline the fundamental grounds for the protest. Subsequently, within 10 days, you must submit your formal written protest, which should provide comprehensive details explaining why the award was improper. Failure to adhere to these strict deadlines will hinder the progress of your protest.

Procuring a Bond

As part of the bid protest process, you will be required to obtain a bond from an approved surety. This bond serves as a form of insurance to cover the associated costs of the protest. The bond amount is specified by statute, so it’s essential to be prepared to meet this requirement.

Compilation of Solid Documentation

A successful bid protest hinges on the presentation of substantial factual and legal evidence, particularly documents related to bid evaluation. Critical documents include bid solicitation records, minutes from public meetings, the winning bid, and communications among pertinent parties.

With a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities and the guidance of legal experts, you can navigate the intricate bid protest process more effectively, ensuring that your concerns are heard and addressed in accordance with the law. Ultimately, a well-informed and well-prepared approach will increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome in the bid protest process. Contact Haber Law to schedule a consultation.