Columbia County officials recently instituted a new set of rules for contractors wishing to protest the results of bid awards.
Though protests are rare, they do happen, and county Procurement Department Manager Glenn O'Steen wanted to avoid confusion in how to handle such matters.
"It's meant to put some guidelines in place to follow," O'Steen said. "Should there be a protest, we didn't have anything in writing showing a procedure to follow to deal with it."
O'Steen said commissioners approved the new procedure last month.
Those wishing to argue the results must submit a written protest to the procurement office within five days of the bid or request for proposal award.
The protester must include contact information, the bid/RFP number, a statement of the factual or legal grounds for the protest, copies of relevant documents, and a statement as to the expected form of relief.
Once submitted, a review team consisting of the procurement manager, finance director and the affected department head will review the protest, investigate if needed, and make a recommendation to commissioners for their approval.
"The commissioners will have all the information they need in place when they make their decision," O'Steen said. "It includes all the commissioners, instead of one getting an earful of only part of the story."
The school system implemented its own set of protest guidelines in 2002. Like the county's new procedure, protesting vendors must submit a written complaint that will be reviewed by the purchasing agent, controller and superintendent. A written response will be sent to the vendor and the school board.
Schools Controller Pat Sullivan said she can't recall when the procedure has been needed.
"When we have problems, we usually can resolve them before they get to that point," she said.
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