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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > December 2002 > Internet Bidding: Get the Facts
December 2002Publication Number: FHWA-RD-03-013

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Internet Bidding: Get the Facts

Can we make submitting and managing transportation project bid proposals easier for highway agencies and contractors using today's technology? A new Technical Guide available from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides guidance on simplifying the process by using the Internet to announce bid proposals, accept submissions, and post the results. In addition, the Guide addresses implementation issues, electronic bid bond, and Internet electronic plan drawings. "This Guide presents information on each phase in the process of Internet bidding," says Joseph Budras of FHWA.

As the Guide details, several highway agencies are already conducting Internet bidding using an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) software program, Trns•port Expedite®, and an online document and bid transmission service known as Bid Express™, which was designed to work with the AASHTO software. Highway agencies can use Bid Express to advertise contracts and manage the bid submission process. Using the Expedite program, contractors then submit their bid to Bid Express, where the bid data is encrypted and held in an electronic lockbox until the public bid opening. To ensure the authenticity of the bids, they are submitted using digital signature technology. Benefits to highway agencies include:

  • Information can be exchanged with bidders securely and reliably.
  • Bidding errors are eliminated (the system checks bid calculations and will reject bids with missing data).
  • Bids are received in a consistent, formatted manner.
  • The cost of preparing and distributing bid proposals is lowered.
  • A potentially larger group of bidders can be reached.
  • Bid submission cut-off times are automatically enforced.

Contractors also experience benefits with the new system, including:

  • Access to project information 24 hours a day.
  • Automatic error checking.
  • Time savings in preparing the bid.
  • Increased ease of submitting bids.

Expedite operates on computers running Microsoft® Windows® 95, 98, 2000, XP, or NT 3.5 or 4. Any computer that can access the Internet can connect to Bid Express. However, full support is only provided for computers running Windows.

The Georgia Department of Transportation was the first highway agency to implement Internet-based bidding. In the first two years of its program, 70 percent of all bids were submitted this way. More information on Georgia's system can be found on the Web at www.dot.state.ga.us/dot/construction/contractsadm/. Other States that offer Internet bidding include Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Some States, such as Texas and Washington, are working to develop their own customized Internet bidding software. Both Texas and Washington expect to have their systems up and running in 2003. Ohio, meanwhile, uses the Internet to simplify its bid process by posting road construction plan drawings. Bidders nationwide can view, search, and print the drawings, saving time and money.

FHWA's Technical Guide is available on the Web at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/contracts/interbid.cfm. For more information, contact Joseph Budras at FHWA, 202-366-2226 (email: joseph.budras@fhwa.dot.gov).

Notice--The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturers' names appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the article.

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Updated: 04/07/2011

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