Public Contracting: When Can I Be Heard?
Bidders may have an opportunity to be heard during evaluation committee meetings or in conjunction with other proceedings during a competitive solicitation process. Members of the public also have the right to a reasonable opportunity to be heard in accordance with a recently enacted Florida Statute, Section 286.0114.
Section 286.0114 went into effect on October 1, 2013, and provides that members of the public have a right to be heard on a proposition before a Florida “board or commission” takes official action. The opportunity to be heard does not need to occur at the same meeting that the official action takes place, so long as it occurs during the decision making process and is within reasonable proximity in time before the official action is taken. The board or commission may, however, adopt rules or policies, including limitations on the amount of time that an individual may speak and the number of persons who may speak on behalf of the same group.
As bidders are also members of the public, if the need arises to speak for or against a contract award, the new law provides another avenue to voice your concerns before a final decision is made. Prior to stepping up to the microphone, however, you should confirm with the agency’s clerk as to whether there are any rules or procedures that have been adopted. For example, there may be a form that you will need to fill out prior to speaking.