What is public procurement and why do we have it? In Florida, public procurement allows government entities in Florida to secure the goods and services they need to serve their constituents. The process required to be used during public procurement in Florida is designed to safeguard the government, the public and the participants. Here are seven things government contractors need to know about the public procurement process in Florida.
- Statutes or ordinances generally require public agencies in Florida to procure goods and services competitively in order to protect all parties and ensure fair and open competition.
- A competitive procurement system is likely to produce a more cost-effective product or service for the government, and to protect against the appearance of, and the opportunity for, favoritism, collusion and fraud in the award of public contracts.
- Nearly all state agencies, counties, and cities are subject to a statute or ordinance that requires them to purchase goods and services competitively.
- There is no case law requiring public agencies to let contracts through competitive bids, which means that if there is not a specific provision, statute or ordinance, a Florida public agency has no obligation to establish a bidding procedure and may contract in any manner that is not arbitrary or capricious.
- Competitive bidding statutes and ordinances are enacted for the protection of the public. They allow public authorities to acquire goods and services at the lowest possible cost and assures the bidder fair consideration of the offer and a contract if it is the lowest and best bid received.
- Public authorities may not arbitrarily or capriciously discriminate between bidders or make the award on the basis of personal preference.
- The goal of Florida statutes and ordinances in this area is to create a framework of uniform procedures requiring documentation and detailed justification of actions as well as effective monitoring of action and specific ethical considerations by both the government and its contractors.
Florida procurement statutes and ordinances are intended as a remedy and courts should construe them to advance their true intent and purpose (fair and open competition in an ethical manner) in order to avoid the likelihood that they are circumvented, evaded, or defeated.
What questions do you have about the procurement process in Florida? Have you found it to foster fair and open competition?
– Fla. Stat. § 287.001