The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas has passed responsible bidding language. The move has been long sought after by labor unions and contractors seeking to compete against unscrupulous actors. Responsible bidder language protects the government from shoddy work and unscrupulous contractors who bid low, bill high and cheat to compete. In construction, when you hear that someone is a “responsible bidder”, that means that they are a construction contractor that meets all applicable criteria and submits evidence of such compliance.

This adaptation is part of a national movement. All across the country, public and private construction users are starting to replace traditional low-bid procurement systems with alternatives that ensure quality and level the playing field. Some construction users are adopting best-value and quality-contracting bidding procedures, while others are drafting legislation and regulation requiring contractors to pre-qualify before bidding. If a contractor cannot pass certain pre-qualifications, they can not bid on public work. This means that governments no longer have to chase down poor performing contractors after already granting them a bid. They are instead required to be in compliance and have solid work performance ahead of time. This type of language promotes high quality, highly trained workforce and levels the playing field for all bidders.

The only bidders that would be pushed away from bidding are contractors that you wouldn’t want on a project in the first place! The Unified Government says they’ve chosen to pass this language “to enhance safety and improve efficiency in public construction projects by procuring services from responsible bidders.” The new Standard Operating Procedure for Responsible Bidding will apply to “vertical construction projects and subcontracts of a value greater than $325,000.00 executed after January 1, 2022.” If a bidder wants to be deemed responsible moving forward, they need to meet certain requirements.

For example: All workers directly involved in construction on site must have completed a ten-hour OSHA training course provided by an OSHA-authorized provider and personnel must carry their OSHA-10 card while on-site and present it for inspection upon request. Contractors are responsible for verifying that all construction personnel on site meet this requirement. Contractors and subcontractors must have a drug and alcohol abuse prevention policy designed to ensure that no person performing construction work does so under the influence of alcohol and drugs. This policy must include random screening for drugs and alcohol using an eleven-panel test or better. Anyone who bids without meeting these requirements will have their bid rejected. Additionally, any bidder who has been deemed non-compliant with these requirements since the effective date of the ordinance shall be deemed non-responsible bidders and their bids will be rejected without being considered, even if they are the only bidder to submit on a project. Moves like this go a long way to make work sites safer and more fair for workers and for labor at large. Public bidding and procurement laws look to protect the public against the squandering of public funds and prevent abuses such as fraud, waste, and favoritism. Labor unions have an uphill battle to fight in Kansas due to unfair so-called “right to work” laws, but laws like this go a long way to make life more fair for companies that use union labor.