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Bidding ethics

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Nels,

Unless your client is a government entity, he/she is not required to accept 
the "lowest responsible bid," and can, in fact, accept the high bid if that 
is what they want.

Contractors know what others have bid even if bids are not publicly opened.  
To ask a bidder to reduce its bid so that it is the low bid is definitely 
unethical for an engineer and is something that I would not be a party to.  
Not only is it unethical, but you would get a reputation for bid shopping, if 
not bid manipulation (which could be illegal), and future projects would not 
draw the better bidders.

If your client wants to use the second low bidder, that is his/her 
prerogative, and he/she would have to justify it to his/her board of 
directors.

Of course, it is also your professional responsibility to advise your client 
*not* to accept a low bid if you are aware of the low bidder's repeated 
failings on projects.

Hope this provides some support.

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona

Nels Roselund wrote:

>>Is there a written code of bidding ethics for projects in the construction
industry?

If a client has bids on a project that I've designed, and tells me that he
wants to ask one bidder to lower his bid to that of another in order to get
the project, is that client being unethical, immoral, illegal, or shrewd?

My advice is, "Don't do it", for two reasons:
1) the bidders have a right to expect that their bids will be taken as a
serious offer to do business, not as a means of manipulating a competitor.
2) it starts the project out with the wrong kind of relationship -- one in
which each knows the other is willing to do some shady dealing.  When
something goes wrong and defenses go up, things are more likely to turn sour
if each already has reason to distrust the other.

The client says, "Its done all the time in my industry."

But this isn't his industry, its the construction industry.  Can I point
such a client to a construction industry standard on the matter?<<