Start the bidding ... well, soon

There certainly seems to be a problem around us regarding governmental bidding processes.

As state officials prepare to begin anew the bidding process for the construction of a new Indian River Inlet Bridge, county officials are now setting into motion a new bidding process for work on the expansion of the South Coastal Library. Both entities appeared to make the logical decision in regards to re-opening the bidding, but there comes a time when people have to ask how these situations got so out-of-hand.

We’ve written at length about the bidding situation for the new bridge, and this week we reported on how the new bridge contract is expected to be awarded within a year. As for the library expansion, the snag in the bidding appears to be more of an administrative oversight that is pretty harmless, but it still was an infraction of Sussex County governmental rules.

According to the county’s bidding procedure guidelines, bidders on a project must include a list of the subcontractors who will work on said project. The lowest bidder on the library expansion project, Nason Construction, apparently did not include that list with their bid, and since the oversight was pointed out by the second-lowest bidder on the project, Gillis Gilkerson Inc., Sussex County Council decided it was best to avoid possible litigation and simply re-open the bidding.

Wise choice. Scary oversight.

All three bids the first go-around came in under the $5 million budgeted for work on the library’s expansion, but there’s no guarantee that will happen again. And, even if they do come in under budget, and can get the project completed in a reasonable amount of time, this is still a somewhat embarrassing situation.

There was nothing done maliciously by the Sussex County government in this situation, and it would be a real stretch to even call this a major mistake. It was simply an administrative oversight that could have potential to become a sticky legal situation down the road.

Sussex County made the right decision, and we don’t see this as being a major delay in time or very costly remedy. However, these bids have to be monitored better.