An Invitation for Bid (“IFB”) or Invitation to Bid (“ITB”) is a way of soliciting bids for a public agency’s project. They generally include the pre-determined specifications or scope of work for a project, and require bidders to submit their best price to complete the project. Price is generally the most important factor for an IFB or ITB. The bidder which is found to be the lowest, responsive and responsible bidder will generally win the award.
A bid is considered responsive if it conforms in all material respects to the specifications. This means the bidder has to provide all of the information sought in the IFB or ITB, and follow the instructions for submission. A bid is considered responsible if it appears that the bidder has the ability to perform the contract. If an agency does not think a bidder can do the work as it claims, even if that bidder submits the best price, it may not get the award.
The evaluation of the bids will be based on the criteria described in the IFB or ITB. Instructions regarding the time and manner to respond to the bid should be in the IFB or ITB specifications.
Generally, each public agency has its own policy and procedure for advertising invitations to bid. Such advertisement may be in the form of notices posted on Florida Bid Reporting, or at the agency’s building or website, or by local newspaper. For solicitation of competitive bids or proposals for state or local construction projects projected to cost more than $200,000.00, Florida law has specific advertising requirements.
Once a bid is submitted, the bidder cannot withdraw the bid after the bids have been opened and the results are made public. There is a limited exception if the bidder makes an honest mistake and it would be unfair to make the bidder perform under the bid mistakenly submitted. For example, if a bidder intends to submit a bid for $500,000, but mistakenly submits the bid for $500, the agency may permit the bid to be withdrawn since it would be unfair to make the contactor perform the work for such a low payment.
A bid submitted in response to an IFB or ITB is an offer from the proposer to the advertising agency. This offer, however, does not create a contractual relationship until the agency accepts the bid. Generally, public agencies have wide discretion in accepting bids, when the decision is based on an honest exercise of its discretion.