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Time to File Bid Protests in Maryland Not Tolled by Request for Additional Information

The Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals (“MSBCA”) found a contractor failed to file its bid protest in a timely fashion and the fact that the contractor requested information on the price offers of all proposals immediately upon award of the bid played no role in the timely filing of the bid protest.  In the Appeal of Bond Water Technologies, Inc., MSBCA 2952 (2016), Bond Water Technologies submitted a bid to the University of Maryland College Park (“UMCP”) for the water treatment service for heating and cooling equipment.  UMCP awarded the bid to Coastline Limited (“Coastline”), the apparent low bidder, and Bond Water immediately requested information from UMCP of the price offers of all proposals.  Upon receipt of the Bid Summary Information, Bond Water e-mailed UMCP and questioned the validity of Coastline’s pricing.    The email was treated as a bid protest; however, it was received more than seven (7) days after the award of the bid.

Under the Code of Maryland Regulations Section 21.10.02.03(b), Maryland procurement law requires a bid protest to be filed not later than seven (7) days after the basis for the protest is known or should have been known, whichever is earlier.  According to Maryland Courts, as well as the MSBCA, the award of the bid triggers this seven (7) day statute of limitations.  Thus, even in a situation where a contractor, such as Bond Water, is investigating the basis for its bid protest, the contractor must submit its bid protest within seven (7) days of the award of the bid.

From a practical standpoint, a contractor must act swiftly if it decides to protest the award of a bid.  Occasionally this requires the contractor to concurrently protest the bid and investigate the basis for the bid, such as the situation in the Bond Water case.  The seven (7) day time limit to file a bid protest is strictly enforced in Maryland and will not be waived by the procurement officer or any subsequent court.

For further information on bid protests or construction law, contact Michael W. Siri at 410-583-2400 or at siri@bowie-jensen.com.

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