Time to drop bid shopping
Bid shopping just sounds dirty.
In an industry that prides itself on the purity of a lowest responsible bidder principle, it is near blasphemous to condone contractors using sub bids as leverage to draw lower bids from other companies. It conjures up a perception of backroom deals and corruption.
The perception is even worse in the state’s bidding system for single-prime projects.
Not only is there room for bid manipulation, but the only perceived benefactor is the general contractor, which submits a bid to the state and then has seven days to assemble bids from mechanical, electrical and plumbing subs.
If the general shops bids during those seven days, the only reasonable capitalist assumption is the savings stop in the general’s pocket rather than being passed on to the taxpayers, who are the true owners of the project. There’s no reason for a general to go back to the state and lower the original bid.
An amendment to a state project delivery bill would close that seven-day window, forcing single-prime bids to include the sub bids from the three trades. The amendment, perhaps even more than the bill, needs approval because a general shopping bids after submitting a number to the state is gaming the entire system, not just the subs.
No one is fooled to think the amendment will stop bid shopping, but at least the shopping will happen before the single-prime bid is submitted, meaning there is at least a better chance the savings will go to the state.
The fact is bid shopping is dirty. But if the industry and state lack the conviction to outlaw the practice, the least they can do is understand there is little difference between the perception and reality of corruption.
Chris Thompson is the editor of The Daily Reporter. He would also like a seven-day window to review bids before his wife goes shopping.