Protest Procedures for Construction Contracts

Introduction:​

The intent of this procedure is to provide bidders with a process to formally object to a contract award. Before submitting a formal protest, bidders are encouraged to first discuss any issues with the Administrative Services Officer (ASO) assigned to the contract. Contact information is available at our Contact Us page.

Definitions:

Administrative Services Officer - The County staff person who distributes notices to contractors, opens bids for construction contracts and is involved in the award and execution of the construction contracts.

Bidder – A licensed contractor submitting a bid for a construction contract.

CAPSD – Contract and Purchasing Services Division, County of Sacramento Department of General Services.

Contract Services Manager - Responsible for the supervision of Administrative Services Officer staff.

Project Manager – Departmental architectural or engineering staff responsible for managing the project being bid.

Protest – Formal written document contesting award of a construction contract to the apparent low bidder or to another bidder as recommended by County staff.

Bidder Protest Procedures:

Any bidder who is determined non-responsive or who is otherwise not awarded a contract may protest the award of such contract to another bidder, under the following conditions:

  1. A bidder may submit a protest if they believe that:
    1. the rating factors and/or evaluation criteria put them at an unjust disadvantage,
    2. the county erred in its conclusion that the bidder’s proposal was non-responsive or failed to follow procedures set forth in the project specifications and therefore was unfairly disqualified, or
    3. the County failed to follow laws, statutes, written policy and/or procedures.
  2. Bidder must submit the protest in writing to the Administrative Services Officer handling the bidding of the contract within five (5) business days of the opening of the bids. For bids opened between 2:00-3:00 p.m. on Thursdays, the protest deadline is 3:00 p.m. the following Thursday.
  3. The protest must reference the contract number and project name.
  4. The protest must detail the basis for the protest with reference, as applicable, to the appropriate provisions of the State of California Public Contract Code, the County of Sacramento Standard Construction Specifications, the Special Provisions for the contract, and any other relevant documentation in support of the protest.

Bidders have an obligation to adhere to review timeframes and to submit appropriate documentation to support their concerns.

Throughout the review process, the County has no obligation to delay or otherwise postpone an award of a contract based on a bidder’s protest.

Protest Review Guidelines:

Protest review shall be completed in a reasonable time, and a determination shall be provided in writing to the bidder. A review may be granted if:

  1. The protest is timely submitted in writing;
  2. The firm/person submitting the protest has responded to the contract in question;
  3. The protest alleges that the bidder submitted the lowest, responsive bid from a responsible bidder, and the bid was erroneously disqualified; and
  4. The protest itemizes in appropriate detail and with factual reasons, the grounds for protest.

Protest Review and Conclusion:

Unless state or federal statutes or regulations otherwise provide, the review of protests will be conducted by CAPSD in coordination with the project manager.

In all cases, the first level review of any protest shall be conducted by the Administrative Services Officer handling the bid in coordination with the project manager, and as appropriate, the Contract Services Manager, and County Counsel.

For CUPCCAA contracts, formal written response will be provided by the director of the department that bid the project—there is no administrative appeal above the director, as the director is the awarding authority.

For formally bid contracts and Job Order Contracts, written response will be provided by the director of the department that bid the project, and unless the protest is thereafter withdrawn in writing, recommendation for award of the contract will be scheduled on the public agenda of the governing board of the agency that bid the project. The protesting party may then provide both written and verbal communication to the governing board.