A bill was introduced in the North Carolina Senate yesterday that would give “local” bidders on public construction projects an advantage over “non-local” bidders. A copy of Senate Bill 232 can be found here.
SB 232 would give the lowest responsible, responsive “local bidder” the opportunity to match the bid of the lowest responsible, responsive “non-local” bidder, but only if the local low bid is no greater than five percent (5%) or ten thousand dollars ($10,000) of the bid of the “non-local” low bid. “Local bidder” would be defined as a bidder that has paid unemployment or income taxes in North Carolina and whose principal place of business is located within the boundaries of the county or municipality giving the preference. A “non-local bidder” would be any entity other than a “local bidder.” Continue reading
I just caught this article from the Rocky Mount Telegram regarding last Thursday’s decision by the Rocky Mount City Council to award the $6.1 million Downtown Streetscape project to the apparent low bidder, T.A. Loving Construction Co., despite an objection from the third-low bidder, PLT Construction, that T.A. Loving’s bid was non-responsive.
At issue was T.A. Loving’s inclusion in its bid of a light fixture that did not comply with the project specifications and for which T.A. Loving failed to obtain pre-bid approval as required by the bidding instructions. Although the City Council initially considered re-bidding the project, it ultimately awarded the project to T.A. Loving, requiring in exchange that the contractor install spec-compliant light poles at the reduced price for the fixtures recited in its non-compliant bid.
The Telegram’s story suggests this arrangement will save the City of Rocky Mount $138,000 on the light fixture component of the project — i.e., more than 2% of the total value of the contract to be awarded. Simply put, not a bad deal for the City. But what about for the larger North Carolina contracting community? I have my doubts.