Georgia County Government - Fall 2013 - (Page 85)

LEGAL NEWS Bidding in Georgia: What to Do When the Lowest Bid is Not the Best Bid other necessary purchases at the lowest possible price. 4 This article will address the category of items for which bids are normally sought by counties but not mandatorily required, including large purchases and/or leases such as motor vehicles, motor graders, tractors, dump trucks, and other forms of road maintenance equipment. By Anthony A. Rowell, Partner Jennifer Dorminey Herzog, Associate Hall Booth Smith, P.C. Tifton Office >> The overarching purpose of the bid process in Georgia is the protection of public funds by obtaining the best equipment/ services at the lowest possible price Georgia law requires that certain types of projects be bid pursuant to statutory requirements wherein the lowest qualified bid must be accepted. While not attempting to exhaustively address that complex and detailed body of law, this article will give a brief overview of projects that must be mandatorily bid and then turn its focus to the category of purchases which are not required to be bid as a matter of law, but for which many county governments seek bids to obtain the best qualified product at the lowest price. When Must a Project be Mandatorily Bid under Georgia Law? Georgia law requires that two types of construction projects be mandatorily bid as set out below. 1. Public works construction projects estimated to cost $100,000 or more: A public works construction project estimated to cost $100,000 or more must be mandatorily bid under Georgia’s Local Government Public Works Construction Law.1 Any public works contract that is entered into without properly using either the bid or proposal method in this context is invalid. 2 2. Road construction or maintenance projects delivered through a private contractor estimated to cost $20,000 or more: Road construction or maintenance projects delivered through a private contractor estimated to cost $20,000 or more must be mandatorily bid under Georgia law. 3 Other than public works and road contracts, the majority of purchasing requirements are found in a county’s local legislation and ordinances. Bidding Considerations in a Non-Mandatory Bid Setting Elected officials have a responsibility to their taxpaying constituents to acquire items of equipment, fuel, and When to Bid? Most county governments set a spending threshold to allow county managers to purchase items below that threshold without the board of commissioners input and/or approval. This threshold allows county staff to purchase the day to day de minimus operational items in a cost effective way with the least administrative burden for the county. Beyond this limit, most counties require that large purchases be subjected to some form of bid process. Is a County Required to Accept the Lowest Bid in All Circumstances? Some county governments have local legislation and/ or local ordinances that require county officials to accept low bids in most circumstances. However, the cheapest product may not be the best product. Certain considerations may warrant the county selecting a bid that is not the lowest bid. Accountability and transparency require a credible, rational and articulable basis for such a decision. Product differences The decision to accept a bid that is not the lowest bid must relate to the function of the product and/or the organization supplying the product. Quality, longevity, service history, price, maintenance expense, fuel efficiency, warranty, and other relevant factors should all be considered in evaluating the purchase of a piece of equipment. “Apple to apple” comparisons are necessary to adequately evaluate two proposed items. To that end, when inviting bids, the county should prepare a product specification requirement (“spec sheet”) that details the essential and necessary requirements of the product sought. The spec sheet should reflect the needs of the county based on the probable and expected use of the equipment. Manipulating spec sheets to exclude certain vendors and/or products should be avoided. Further, to the extent the piece of equipment carries a warranty, the organization may still be responsible for routine maintenance, repairs, etc. Maintenance and repair expense are legitimate considerations which may distinguish one product from another. Likewise, it is valid to consider the stability of the organization FALL 2013 85

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - Fall 2013

President’s Message
Director’s Desk
UGA’s Archway Partnership: Empowerment for Georgia’s Communities
Oglethorpe County: Focusing on the Benefi ts of Protecting Rural Roots
Eliminating Risks: LGRMS Celebrates 25 Years
Where Do We Stand? One Year after Georgia’s Criminal Justice Reform
Understanding the Impacts of Juvenile Justice Reform
New Jail Facilities: Counties Focus on New Technology and Capacity to Expand
2013 Legislative Service Award Recipients
Hospital Survival: Informed County Commissioners Can Preserve Local Health Care
Federal New: More Gridlock and Uncertainty May Be Expected in Washington for FY 2014
Slice by Slice: Students Learn About the Signifi cance of Agriculture on Pizza Farms
Talking Trees with Georgia’s County Commissioners
Partner News: Value at the Heart of the Unique Gas South-ACCG Partnership
Commercial Swimming Pool Renovations Do’s and Don’ts
Counties & The Law: The Supreme Court, the Voting Rights Act and Georgia Counties
Legal News: Bidding in Georgia: What to Do When the Lowest
Conference Preview: Legislative Leadership
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - Fall 2013