Advertising Bids for Public Contracts

The General Municipal Law and competitive-bidding statutes set forth procedures for advertising bids on public-owned construction projects. New York General Municipal Law § 103, for example, requires advertisements for public contracts to be published in newspapers allocated to advertise the public bids. The General Municipal Law also requires that the advertisement must state when and where the bids received for the project will be publicly opened and read. Furthermore, advertisements are required to be published at a minimum of five (5) days before the designated date for the opening and reading of the bids. New York Town Law § 122 incorporates the General Municipal Law for the purpose of adherence to a comprehensive standard in town public contracts.

Compliance with the competitive-bidding statutes is critical. Compliance with federal advertising provisions on federally supported state projects does not necessarily accomplish compliance with State or local advertising requirements, and on federal projects, both must be followed strictly. In Marvec-All State, Inc. v. Purcell (1981), it was held that compliance with Federal notice provisions does not supersede County and State notice requirements, but is in addition to those requirements. The fact that federal funds may be applied to the project is irrelevant. Noncompliance can be fatal, as any violation of the statutes can cause a contract award to be illegal and void.

In Prosper Contracting Corp. v. Board of Ed. of City of New York (1973), the contractor/plaintiff was awarded a contract and instructed to proceed immediately. Eight (8) days later, after substantial work had been performed by the plaintiff, the contract was rescinded due to improper advertisement of the contract. The court concluded that because the Board of Education did not advertise the contract properly, it had no capacity to contract and relief was denied to the plaintiff.

Finally, advertisement of public contracts must be reasonable. Compliance with the competitive-bidding statutes is not always enough to show proper advertisement. For example, in McArdle v. Board of Estimate of City of Mt. Vernon (1973), the court held that a ten (10) day period for bidding was not sufficient for a thorough review of the specifications and formulation of bids by contractors on a complex contract, causing the contract award to be void.

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