Vendors and citizens are encouraged to bring any concerns about a bid or proposal process first to the attention of the local awarding authority. In many instances, local awarding authorities contact this Office for advice in response to questions raised by vendors and citizens.
Public officials, vendors and citizens may bring inquiries and complaints to the Office for assistance. Note, however, that vendors and citizens are not required to bring complaints and protests to this Office. They may, if they choose, seek resolution in court.
If the Office receives a complaint or protest, we use an informal dispute resolution process to resolve protests as efficiently as possible without resort to litigation. If a protest is reasonable on its face, we will contact the jurisdiction to request documents or to seek clarification on how a decision was made. Protesters often identify themselves to local awarding authorities. However, if a protester prefers to remain anonymous, the identity of the protester is protected under our confidentiality rules. When we have all the necessary information we will determine whether, in our opinion, the process complies with Chapter 30B.
We focus on developing solutions to problems. In general, the Office's approach is to assist the local awarding authority in determining whether there is a problem and, if so, how best to address the problem. Whenever possible, we identify ways to correct errors while preserving the process and avoiding the necessity to rebid. For example, if we find that specifications are inadequate, we will recommend that the local authority issue an addendum clarifying the specifications and, if necessary, extending the bid opening date. If we learn after bids or proposals have been opened that the process did not comply with the law, we will discuss the legal basis for our opinion with the jurisdiction and lay out options for remedying the problem.
Our opinions are not binding on either the jurisdiction or the protester. A protester is entitled to pursue a complaint in court even if we find the protest to be without merit. In the vast majority of cases, however, the protestor does not take further action.
To request assistance or protest a bid, contact the Office between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday at 617-722-8838.