Under Maryland law, a solicitation (IFB or RFP) must contain clear, accurate specifications of the agency’s requirements. Unfortunately, there are sometimes improprieties in the solicitation, such as ambiguous or unduly restrictive specifications.
Scott Livingston regularly represents bidders who demand a level playing field, where the solicitation puts bidders on equal footing.
UNDULY RESTRICTIVE MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS
Suppose the minimum qualifications eliminate prospective bidders who could otherwise handle the job. For example, in order to qualify to bid on a construction project, the bidder had to have a volume of $300 million in the prior 3 years. This eliminated one highly qualified prospective bidder, which only had $250 million.
WITHHOLDING RELEVANT INFORMATION.
Suppose the agency withholds relevant information. For example, in one RFP, an agency sought to purchase nursing services, but withheld records showing actual sales figures. The incumbent knew the numbers, so it was positioned to develop a more competitive financial proposal than newcomers who would inflate their prices to cover the unknown.
VAGUE, AMBIGUOUS SPECIFICATIONS
RFPs with contradictory, vague or unclear requirements can result in a bid being rejected. For example, an RFP for a construction project stated the State of Maryland would relocate a certain utility line, but elsewhere the bidding documents stated the winning bidder would perform this work. Such contradictory information causes unnecessary confusion for bidders and results in inaccurate and incomparable bids.
In many cases, legal action is not required and we can amiably rectify errors in the solicitation by communicating properly with the agency.