Washington contractors now have more time to file a bid protest on a public works project.
Under prior law, an aggrieved contractor had to submit their bid protest within two days after the bid opening. RCW 39.04.105. For many contractors, they often did not know the basis to protest an award without receiving access to the other bids to understand whether the winning bid was in fact responsive to the bid criteria. Some public owners provided copies of the bids if requested at the bid opening. However, other public entities were refusing or delaying providing copies of the other bids until after the two day protest deadline passed.
The legislature, under pressure from industry groups, passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5418 (amending RCW 39.04.105), which states that a contractor has two days after the bid opening to either submit a written protest or request copies of the competing bids. If the contractor requests copies of the competing bids from the public owner and does not promptly receive it, the contractor then has until two days after the competing bids are provided by the owner before the contractor is required to submit its bid protest. See (Section 13).
Please note that if the contractor fails to request copies of the competing bids within two days after the bid opening, the old rule still applies, and the contractor must submit its written protest to the owner within two days after the bid opening. Given these tight deadlines, public contractors should add a request for all the winning bids for each project that they do not receive notice of being the low bidder, just to preserve additional time to file a protest if warranted.