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Paper giving way to ‘Net for bidding on state-owned projects

By Ann Knoedler

It looks as though changes are on the horizon for the way bids are submitted for state-owned facilities and infrastructure managed by the Wisconsin Division of State Facilities. This includes universities, correctional facilities, state parks, military installations, and numerous state administration buildings.

Request for Proposal for Vendor Hosted Electronic Bidding Solution-Construction Projects for the Division of State Facilities, Madison

The Department of Administration, Bureau of Procurement issued a request for proposals for Vendor Hosted Electronic Bidding Solution-Construction Projects for DSF, “to enable bidders to securely and confidentially submit their bids and bid bond remotely via the Internet.”

Proposals for the bidding solution are due from qualified vendors on Aug. 31.

In the RFP, problems are cited with the current paper bid formula. For instance, bidders write words where they are only supposed to enter numbers, they forget to sign the bid form, and they sometimes even forget to sign the bid bond — essentially human error.

The hours leading up to submitting a bid are hectic and stressful for contractors — there’s a lot to remember. Even the most seasoned estimator is subject to oversights that can end with their bid being thrown out.

One of the other issues has to do with equal access to the primary bidding site (where the bids are due). If a project is in Marinette, for instance, the majority of the bidders will be from that general area. However, the DSF receives bids in Madison for most of their projects, with an office at UW-Eau Claire as the only other alternate location. When Tommy Thompson was governor, he opened The Governor’s Northern Office in Hayward, and that was used as the alternate bid submittal location.

E-bidding is an inevitable progression of the bidding process for an agency that is responsible for receiving and processing a myriad of bids each year affecting state-owned facilities located all around Wisconsin.

In March, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation officially switched over to electronic bidding almost exclusively, allowing paper bids only in certain circumstances. The switchover was gradual to allow contractors and WisDOT to become acclimated to the process.

It will no doubt be some time before the DSF officially goes live with e-bidding, but the process is in the works. I hope they take all the time they need since so many will be affected.

Ann Knoedler is the lead data reporter at The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at (414) 225-1822.

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