No Responses to Your Bid: What Next?
The bid (proposal or quote) close date for your public works or goods and service project has just passed and your submittal box — whether virtual or actual — is empty. When this occurs, what should happen next?
This blog provides some practical guidance when there are no responses to your bid and you are considering whether to repost the bid or award the bid directly.
What Do the Statutes Say?
All cities and towns “may readvertise and make a second call,” or “enter into a contract without any further call.” See RCW 35.23.352 for second-class cities and towns, made applicable for code cities by RCW 35A.40.200.
For counties, MRSC has historically advised that while RCW 35.23.352 doesn’t apply specifically to counties, the county can probably nevertheless do what this statute authorizes for cities, though the county should first make sure that it advertised in the places it normally does and where it would it expect to generate responsive bids.
If the agency is not a city or county, local policy and procedures should be checked to verify that similar provisions have been adopted.
Put simply, other than using your own agency employee labor or resources as allowed in RCW 35.23.352, to complete the project, your options will be to:
- Repost the bid. Identify this option for further competition or a “second call” for bids. However, if the agency does not review its original bid and modify its outreach efforts to try to reach more potentially interested parties, this option may not lead to any different result. The agency should also consider whether time exists in the project schedule to run another competitive process.
- Award the bid directly. Enter into a contract without any additional competition or “second call” for bids. One concern with this approach is that it may not lead to the best value for your agency and becomes almost like a sole-source contract. This takes a purposeful effort to justify, as the decision indicates competition is not feasible.
Conduct a Bid Review
An important step to help you determine how to proceed is to conduct a review of the following elements of your original approach to the bid process: contract research, notification and outreach, and the Q&A period.
- If “Yes,” still consider Reposting or Awarding Directly.
- If “No,” there could be an opportunity to consider Awarding Directly by utilizing intergovernmental procurement and piggybacking.
In addition to newspaper publication, did you use other tools like the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) Bids & Contract Opportunity or Washington’s Electronic Business Solution (WEBS) for broad notification?
If this was a small public works project or consultant opportunity thru MRSC Rosters or another roster list, did you notify every available vendor on the roster?
- If the answer is “Yes” to either of these scenarios, the outcome may not be any different with Reposting and you should consider Awarding Directly instead.
- If the answer is “No” to either of these scenarios, there could be an opportunity for Reposting for a better outcome.
Were any questions or requests for clarification received as part of the bid process?
Did questions or requests for clarification address concerns with timeline or other elements of the bid that may have created a potential barrier to providing a response?
- When the answer is “Yes” to these scenarios, consider Reposting with adjustments to the bid content. Contact businesses that submitted questions or requests for clarification to confirm potential adjustments before making any changes.
- When the answer is “No” to either of these scenarios, consider Awarding Directly. Interview businesses notified of the original bid to find out why they did not respond, as you want to confirm there is no opportunity for further competition.
The competitive bid process aims to ensure that an agency’s procurement efforts are transparent and result in the best value and quality. When the bid process does not result in the number or quality of responses an agency was hoping for, there are some recommended “next steps” that an agency can follow so that current project needs can be met and future bids may result in more and higher-quality responses. Again, carefully reviewing the bid process and contacting businesses to determine why they chose to not respond (and identifying any common factors that exist) are important next steps.
An agency should keep notes detailing its review of any unsuccessful bids and discussions held with businesses to determine why no responses were received. An agency may also want to review its internal procurement and competitive bidding procedures to determine whether they warrant revision to address the scenario of no bid responses.
MRSC’s Purchasing and Contracting page provides links to all of MRSC’s resources related to purchasing, bidding, and contracting for local governments in Washington State.
Presented by the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) Business Council, the downloadable white paper We “No Bid,” and I’ll Tell You Why provides real-world examples from the supplier’s perspective on why a business may choose not to bid.
MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.