Bids and proposals may be rejected on an individual or collective basis. The agency typically reserves the right to reject any and all bids as part of the advertisement. Alternatively, an individual bid may be rejected if it is found to be “non-responsive”.
In determining whether a bid or proposal is non-responsive, the decision for the agency is usually whether there are material irregularities that cannot be waived. Generally, minor irregularities or technicalities that do not affect price or give a bidder a competitive advantage can be waived in the discretion on the agency. On the other hand, if the irregularity calls into question whether the bidder is capable of performing the contract or, if waived, would provide the bidder with a competitive advantage over the other bidders, then it cannot be waived.
If the agency determines that it is in its best interest, it may decide to reject all bids and re-advertise the project. Reasons for doing so may include a change in the project specifications is needed, or the bids all came in over budget. Bidders are sometimes frustrated by this decision to the extent that the decision is sometimes made after each others’ bids are public, but it is part of the procurement process, unless a public records exemption applies.
Decisions as to whether to reject or not reject a particular bid may be the subject of a protest. Bidders who feel that a competitor’s bid should have been rejected may believe that an irregularity existed which gave the competitor a competitive advantage. In those instances a protest should be considered.