Bidding: What Does Responsive and Responsible Mean?
We have all heard the phrase "lowest responsive and responsible bid", but what does it mean? In the context of a public agency’s award of a contract pursuant to an Invitation for Bids ("IFB"), the award will generally be made to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder.
Pursuant to Florida Statutes, a “responsible vendor” means a vendor who has the capability in all respects to fully perform the contract requirements and the integrity and reliability that will assure good faith performance. Additionally, a “responsive bid” means a bid, or proposal, or reply submitted by a responsive and responsible vendor that conforms in all material respects to the solicitation.
Accordingly, being the "lowest" bidder is not the end of the analysis. The low bidder must also demonstrate that it is qualified to do the work (i.e. responsible), and it must submit all required information and documents that are required by the IFB (i.e. responsive). For example, including a copy of the appropriate licensure would be important to demonstrating responsibility. Signing all required forms and submitting a bid bond, if required, would be important to demonstrating responsiveness.
Too often, we have seen low bidders rejected from awards because they fail to demonstrate responsiveness and responsibility. This is a bad outcome for the bidder as well as the taxpayers which end up paying more for the work. So when submitting a bid, price is paramount, but don’t forget to dot the "i’s" and cross the "t’s".