Prior to hiring a contractor, a bid package and process must be developed. Minimum package requirements include:
- Advertisement for Bid Form (or solicit
selected contractors, using pre-qualifying criteria)
- Bid Forms
- Instructions to Bidders Form, including
the method for award of contract (e.g., to the lowest bid or the
lowest base bid in combination with alternates)
- Bid Bond Form (5 percent bid security)
- Contract Form
- Performance and Payment Bond form (100
- Contractor's Application for Payment
- Construction Contract General Conditions
and Supplemental Conditions
- Equal Employment Opportunity (construction
contracts exceeding $10,000)
- Bonding and Insurance Requirements
- Construction Contract Completion Time and
Closeout Documents necessary for Substantial Completion
- Current Wage Determination rates according to the Davis-Bacon Act. To find out more about the Davis-Bacon Act go to the law http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/statutes/whd/dbra.htm and other related compliance issues www.dol.gov/dol/compliance/comp-dbra.htm.
Tips for a Successful Process
When hiring professional services, a program should develop a set of questions important to the program and the project as a basis of the proposal. Each professional, firm, or entity must provide detailed answers.
- Are you licensed?
- Describe your previous experience working
for this agency/program.
- Describe your previous experience
designing and constructing Head Start or early educational
- Have you a certificate or specialized
training in Head Start or early educational facilities design and
- Describe your design team that will work
on this specific project, including degree type, individual
experience, and years with the firm, certificates or specialized
training in Head Start design and construction, and number of
projects currently in process.
- List all current projects and projects for last 3 years. Provide contact names, phone numbers, dates of completion, budget, and the number of approved construction change orders.
- Develop rating criteria by giving
different possible top weights for the questions. The rating
criteria are the opportunity to establish priorities and to hire
the type of professional that best fits the project and the
agency. Question weights vary according to what is considered the
most important qualifications of the professional, firm, or
entity. For example:
- a licensed local architect may be worth
- previous experience working with the
agency may be worth 20 points
- experience designing and constructing
other Head Start or early education facilities may be worth 25
- having a certificate or formal training
in the design and construction of Head Start or early education
facilities may be worth 30 points
- the qualifications of the design team, their experience, and their knowledge may be worth 35 points. Previous experience may be the most important factor to the agency and may be worth 40 points.
- If price is included as an evaluation
factor and there is a request for cost information, it may be used
as a screening factor to pre-select or screen out applicants that
have a high cost per hour fee.
- The next step is to develop an evaluation
panel consisting of three to five people. Each person will read,
grade, and rank each proposal. Each member of the panel should
have a professional understanding of the project and the
construction industry and knowledge of what it takes for such a
project to be successful and some members should not be affiliated
with the agency or the project.
- Total the scores and ensure that all
applicants are given the same opportunity to score the maximum
points available. In the criteria mentioned above (item 2), the
total is 165 points. A scale of 100 or 200 points may be
developed. The most important factor is that all the applicants
are given the same opportunity and that no applicant is given
- After scoring, average the grades for each
proposal to produce a final score and place the top proposals in
- The negotiation process begins after the
proposals are opened, read, and graded according to the weighted
criteria. The top three to five proposals are notified that they
are selected as finalists and will be contacted by phone for an
appointment and presentation. Presentations are optional but
recommended. They give everyone an opportunity to meet the people
they will be working with, establish a person-to-person
relationship, and personalize the proposals. After all the
presentations have been made, a final score is tallied. The top
firm is then notified of its selection to negotiate a contract.
- The cost of professional services can vary greatly-from an hourly rate to a total cost based upon meeting specifically measured goals and objectives. However the contract is set up, the federal government requires a Firm Fixed Price Contract. An hourly rate should be included as an
addendum in the event additional work is requested during the
course of the project.
Awarding a construction contract using the bid process is based primarily on cost. However, cost may not be the only factor in awarding a construction or renovation contract. Quality of work, references, the ability to complete on time and within budget, and bonding are other factors that could play a role in awarding a construction contract.
A construction contract does not have to be given to the lowest bidder. It must, however, be awarded to the lowest and best bidder. If the lowest bidder is not awarded the contract, it is very important that a detailed explanation is provided to the funding agency and that documentation be filed with the agency's council for any legal challenges that may be brought against the agency/program.
The architect and/or project manager play a key role in documenting the reasons for awarding a contract to the lowest best bidder rather than the lowest bidder.