Construction Bidding Procedures

 

Iowa law establishes two sets of construction bidding procedures applicable to a variety of “governmental entities” including cities.  One set of procedures is applicable to “public improvements” and the other is applicable to “highways, bridges and culverts”.  Generally speaking, “public improvement” means and includes buildings, sanitary and storm sewers, water distribution systems, parks facilities and the like.  “Highways” are defined to include city streets.

 

Public Improvement Projects

 

When a city undertakes to construct or reconstruct a public improvement, or when it undertakes to repair or maintain a public improvement using a private contractor, it is required to follow the “competitive bidding procedure” if the estimated cost of the project will exceed the sum of $100,000.  If the estimated cost of the project is $100,000 or less, but greater than a lower dollar competitive quotation threshold that varies depending on the population of the city, the city would be allowed to use the “competitive quotation procedure”, which is a simpler, less time-consuming and less expensive process to use than competitive bidding.  The current competitive quotation threshold for small cities (50,000 or less population) is $40,000, and the current competitive quotation threshold for larger cities (population more than 50,000) is $57,000.  If the cost of the project is less than the competitive quotation threshold that applies to the city, or if the city is repairing or maintaining a public improvement with its own workforce, then the city may contract to have the work done without following either the competitive bidding or the competitive quotation procedure, or it may have its own workforce perform the work.  If emergency repair of a public improvement is necessary to avoid serious loss or injury to the city, and an independent architect or engineer so certifies, the city may contract for emergency repairs without following either the competitive bidding or the competitive quotation procedure.  (See Appendix __ for a flowchart of the construction bidding process for public improvement projects and for a graph of the competitive bidding and competitive quotation thresholds applicable to such projects).

 

Highway, Bridge or Culvert Projects

 

When a city undertakes to construct or reconstruct a highway (street), bridge or culvert, it is required to follow the “competitive bidding procedure” if the estimated cost of the project will exceed the competitive bidding threshold that applies to such work.  The competitive bidding threshold for highway, bridge or culvert work is $40,000 for small cities (50,000 or less population) and $57,000 for larger cities (population more than 50,000).  When a city undertakes to repair or maintain a highway, bridge or culvert, it can perform that work with its own workforce, or it can engage a contractor to perform the work without following either the competitive bidding or the competitive quotation procedure. 

(See Appendix __ for a flowchart of the construction bidding process for highway, bridge or culvert projects and for a graph of the competitive bidding thresholds applicable to such projects).