Potential Scheme: Manipulation of Bids

In a poorly controlled bidding process project officials can tamper with bids after receipt to ensure that a favored contractor is selected.  Common methods of manipulating bids include:

  • Non-public bid opening
  • Failing to read out bid prices and terms at bid opening
  • Making changes to or discarding parts of bids, for example, bid securities, after receipt; “losing” all or parts of bids
  • Changing the announced evaluation criteria during the evaluation process
  • Arbitrarily assigning or changing bid scores; making deliberate “errors” in scoring
  • Voiding all bids for alleged errors in specifications and re-bidding the work
  • Extending the bid due date to permit late, changed or altered bids
  • Allowing unauthorized persons to participate in and influence the bid evaluation
  • Interference in the bid selection process by senior officials
  • Failing to record important information in the bid evaluation report, such as the ranking of bidders or bid prices

RED FLAGS OF MANIPULATION OF BIDS

  • Inadequate controls over the opening, recording and handling of bids
  • Highly subjective or unbalanced evaluation criteria that can be used to manipulate the bid scores
  • Complaints of changes to bids after they are received
  • Some bids are rejected because of allegedly missing components
  • Unusual changes to or “errors” in the scoring of bid
  • Missing or inadequate documentation to support the recommendation for contract award, e.g., the failure to rank bid prices
  • All bids are voided for “errors” in contract specifications and the job is re-bid 

CASE EXAMPLES OF MANIPULATION OF BIDS

See actual case examples of manipulation of bids from investigated cases.

BASIC STEPS TO DETECT AND PROVE MANIPULATION OF BIDS

  1. Identify and interview all complainants and confidential sources to obtain further detail.
  2. Obtain the following documents and examine them for the red flags listed above
    • Minutes of bid opening
    • Bid evaluation reports
    • Copies of losing bids
  3. Review retained copies of the bids from the losing bidders and compare them to the bids in the bid evaluation files.
  4. Examine the losing bids for indications of changes to the bids and removal of attached documents.
  5. Review the bid evaluation reports, notes and minutes prepared by the bid evaluators and note disputed changes to scoring, arithmetical “errors,” etc.
  6. Determine the legitimacy of extending bid due dates or re-bidding contracts due to alleged “errors,” changes to contract specifications, or “lost” bids.