Town may not choose high bidder based on criteria not in bid specs where no fiinding that low bidder not responsible

Low bidder, if responsible, cannot be rejected by town in favor of high bidder based on criteria not in bid specs


Defendant town conducted a bidding process for services. The bid documents had specific criteria by which bidders were to be measured. When the bids were opened, the plaintiff was the low bidder. However, after site visits to the plaintiff and to the high bidder, the town board voted to award the bid to the high bidder essentially because of certain amenities exhibited during the site visit which were not criteria listed in the bid specifications. A majority of the board decided that the high bidder was "more responsible" but never found that the low bidder was not responsible. The trial court held for the low bidder. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court reversed, holding that a municipality has the discretion of picking a high bidder where it finds that by so doing, the services will be better provided. The Court of Appeals, with one dissenting vote, reversed the Appellate Division, holding that although there is authority to choose a high bidder, there is no such authority where there is no finding that the low bidder is not responsible, and where the determination is made based on criteria not in the bid specifications, and therefore not criteria on which the the low bidder had an opportunity to compete.

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Reference Info:Decision | State, 2nd Circuit, New York | United States

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