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Vacant lot bid is off the charts

By Jeff Moore

On the data reporting side, we periodically see interesting bid errors, but rarely do we receive any details as to why a particular bid is way off from the other bids. Nor do we have the time to track down such details with 600 other tasks to do during the day.

But thanks to this blog, I get the time to track down some details on a particular error.

A recent bid tab for a vacant lot maintenance job in Milwaukee shows submitted bids ranging from a low of $64,894 to J.P. Landscape LLC’s impressive bid of $44,062,452,512 on one contract; and on the second contract the range is $64,008.90 to J.P’s equally impressive $26,577,269,208.40. Most other bids are under $110,000 on both contracts.

I can’t imagine what shape this vacant lot is in to warrant a combined bid of over $70 billion for its maintenance.

The error occurred in the written bid tab. The contractor mistakenly wrote the total bid amount in a unit price field, which caused the entire bid to skyrocket off the charts.

The unit price is the individual cost for each bid item that is needed to complete the work.

Normally, a bidder specifies a unit price for each pay item for which a quantity is given and shows the products of the respective unit prices and quantities written in figures in the space provided for that purpose. The total amount of the bid, written both in words and figures, is obtained by adding the amounts of all bid items. All words and figures are in ink or typed, and if a discrepancy exists between numbers and written words, the written word amount will prevail.

So while the contractor’s numbers may have been accurate, the written word amount contained errors which resulted in the $70 billion combined bid amount.

It’s too bad to, because J.P.’s might have been the low bidder on the project. But we’ll never know because their actual bid won’t be released.

Just a word of warning to other estimators.

Jeff Moore in a data reporter with The Daily Reporter. He is hoping the same type of error might show up on his paycheck some day.


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