Chapter 2: Pre-Award Activities

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Section 1: Overview

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Texas Transportation Code §223.001 requires competitive bids for contracts pertaining to state highway improvement and for material used in construction or maintenance on state highways. The Department’s processes are developed to stimulate competition and protect against bias or favoritism near the time of the contract award decisions.

Contact Design Division’s Final Plans, Specifications, and Estimates (PS&E) Section for guidance on early release of plans for comment and reviewing plans during the design phase of the project.

Once the project is released, competitive bidding laws are in effect. Failure to follow protocol may compromise the integrity of the low bid, and the potential exists that all bids may be rejected and the district will have to re-let the project.

The following procedures are required when interacting with potential bidders, virtually eliminating any risk for answering project pre-bid questions.

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  • Accept questions via email, phone, or in person. Ensure to post via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) site as stated below.
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  • Take notes when discussing a project with a Contractor during the pre-bid period, including during non-mandatory pre-bid conferences, a ride-along, or when otherwise showing or discussing a project. Ensure to post all notes to the FTP site.
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  • Some questions have simple, straightforward answers and may be verbally answered immediately. Examples:
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    • The plan sheets show 10 culverts to be paid for by the each, however, the bid item shows 9. How many will be paid?
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    • The specifications indicate the pay units of an item in the proposal is by the square foot, but the estimate and quantity (E&Q) sheets are by the cubic yard. Which is right?
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  • Other more complicated questions may require study and collaboration prior to responding.
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    • If necessary, request the contractor provide complicated questions in writing through email, letter or other means to ensure a full response is appropriately provided.
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  • POST ALL QUESTIONS, including simple questions that may have been verbally answered, to the FTP site the same day that it is asked as acknowledgement and for the benefit of all perspective bidders.
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  • POST ALL RESPONSES, including the verbal answers to simple questions, to the FTP site when the answer is provided to the originator of the question
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    • Same day for simple, straightforward answers
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    • Within 48 hours for complicated questions (If the answer will take longer, Note the response status on the FTP site).
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  • Responses posted to the FTP site trump any responses given verbally should there be a conflict.
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  • Post additional documentation requested and not included in the plans on the FTP site.
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  • Keep a record of all information provided to the prospective bidders with the Project Records.
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  • If a potential bidder raises a question regarding an error in the plans,
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    • Acknowledge that you will research the potential error,
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    • Advise the contractor to bid the project as is,
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    • DO NOT make statements to that bidder, or any other potential bidder, that a possible or probable change to the plans, specifications, or quantities should be forthcoming,
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    • Perform due diligence to determine whether the possible error is valid, and if so, ensure the error is addressed with:
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      • An addendum, prior to letting (refer to Section 2, “Addenda,” for requesting a form and its corresponding SOP later in this chapter),
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      • A Change Order after letting and award,
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      • A Postponement of letting to a later date
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  • Notify all prospective bidders via the FTP site, if an addendum has been posted. See Section 2 for more information.
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  • Provide notes or minutes of all meetings (including non-mandatory pre-bid conferences and ride alongs) to all prospective bidders via the FTP site.
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  • Ensure all interested parties are treated fairly and equitably.
Anchor: #i1008431Sharing of Project Documentation

Can be Shared

Cannot be Shared

Preliminary plans

Engineer's estimate for individual bid items

Cross sections (PDF or raw data)

CPM schedule

Global stability calculations

Pothole activities1

Survey in ROW1

Retaining wall and bridge calculations3

Geotechnical data, reports

DGN files2

As-Built Plans4

  1. Follow permit process.
  2. DGNs may only be provided to the awarded bidder. They can request Form 2519, “Intellectual Property License Request,” (found on GCD Crossroads site).
  3. The Bridge Division may review the Contractor’s calculations.
  4. As-built bridge plans may be posted on the FTP site for information purposes only. The only exception to this would be in the case when the plans requested are for a Critical/Safety Sensitive structure. Refer to Open Records Request Guidance for Bridge Information.

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Managing the FTP Site

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  • Designate two individuals, one primary and one secondary, to receive and manage questions and answers for all projects.
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  • Ensure the prospective bidder knows it is their responsibility to stay informed through the FTP site. The proposal must communicate to whom questions may be submitted and the FTP address where answers will be posted. DES has provided standard language for inclusion in the General Notes.
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  • The individuals must review status of questions frequently to ensure question and answers are posted to the FTP site in a timely manner. Provide an answer within 48 hrs.
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  • Ensure that questions are listed in numerical order and not by persons or contractor name.
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  • Direct prospective bidders to the FTP site for all questions and answers when asked.

Refer to CST's Construction Support webpage (internal access only) for additional information.

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Prospective Bidder Site Investigations

As approved by the Area Engineer (AE), prospective bidders may conduct site investigations of proposed projects by visiting the project, performing corings or other subsurface investigations, etc. Notify the prospective bidder of their responsibility to be aware of ROW that has not been cleared, to prevent trespassing. Have the prospective bidder use a ROW agreement, Form 2900, “Agreement for Access to Texas Department of Transportation Highway Right of Way”.

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) must follow Department guidelines. Contact Aviation Division (AVN) and reference the Flight Operations Manual for more information.

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