Adequacy of City of Rockford bid specs questioned
By Stuart R. Wahlin, Staff Writer
At least one bidder on city projects agrees it’s time for the city to take a closer look at its process.
McAllister Equipment Company’s Mark Seeland recently submitted bids for a backhoe, but McAllister was dropped from consideration, despite having been the lowest bidder twice, Seeland said.
Of the specifications issued by the city, Seeland reported: “It was pretty obvious it was built around a John Deere backhoe loader. We felt like the specs were very narrow, but our equipment, we felt, was capable and more than adequate to meet the specification.”
Bids were opened June 17, but Seeland indicated he later learned from another dealer—not the city—that McAllister had been dropped from consideration, allegedly for not meeting specifications.
Seeland said calls to the city, inquiring as to what the discrepancy was, went unreturned.
When a second round of bids was requested, Seeland reported, McAllister submitted the same bid as before, because the city had not advised which issue with the previous bid needed to be corrected.
“We were at a disadvantage, because the companies that were tossed out on the first bid basically had a chance to look at our pricing,” he noted. “They saw what we bid the first time, and it was basically showing them our cards.”
Despite this, he said, McAllister was the lowest bidder again, but the company was notified a week later the bid would not be honored, again because specifications had allegedly not been met.
“We want to do business with the city,” Seeland asserted. “We want to do business with other businesses here in the Rockford area, and we felt like this was a good opportunity for us to take part in city business. But the experience we had on the bid was such that we couldn’t get the information that we needed from the city.”
The bid was awarded July 27 to West Side Tractor, which had been disqualified at the first bid opening for being late.
“The city really gave an opportunity for somebody who didn’t comply on the first bid to come in and be successful on the second bid,” Seeland argued. “For us in the future, if these bids are not communicated properly, or the bid specifications aren’t opened up to become less narrow, it’s really not in our company’s best interest the spend the time or money to bid on these projects.”
Seeland said the stringent specifications are bad not only for McAllister, but for the city.
“The fewer bidders you have on these, the price is gonna go up,” he concluded. “This was an $80,000 piece of machinery. Next year, if one or two participants don’t go, because they don’t feel like they’re gonna get a fair shake on the bid, it’ll become a hundred-thousand-dollar piece of machinery.”
from the July 29-August 4, 2009, issue
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