Nebraska Revised Statute 18-507
Chapter 18 Section 507
Installation, improvement, or extension; plans and specifications; bidding requirements.
Whenever the governing body of any city or village shall have ordered the installation of a sewerage system and sewage disposal plant or the improvement or extension of an existing system, the fact that such order was issued shall be recited in the official minutes of the governing body. The said body shall thereupon require that plans and specifications be prepared of such sewerage system and sewage disposal plant, or such improvement or extension. Upon approval of such plans, the governing body shall thereupon advertise for sealed bids for the construction of said improvements once a week for three weeks in a legal paper published in or of general circulation within said municipality, and the contract shall be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.
- Laws 1933, c. 146, § 7, p. 563;
- C.S.Supp.,1941, § 18-1407;
- R.S.1943, § 18-507.
A public body has discretion to award the contract to one other than the lowest of the responsible bidders whenever a submitted bid contains a relevant advantage. Rath v. City of Sutton, 267 Neb. 265, 673 N.W.2d 869 (2004).
By mandating that contracts be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, the Nebraska Legislature is seeking to protect taxpayers, prevent favoritism and fraud, and increase competition in the bidding process by placing bidders on equal footing. Rath v. City of Sutton, 267 Neb. 265, 673 N.W.2d 869 (2004).
Determining the lowest responsible bidder is a two-step process. The first step is for the public body to determine which bidders are responsible to perform the contract. The second step focuses on which of the responsible bidders has submitted the lowest bid. Rath v. City of Sutton, 267 Neb. 265, 673 N.W.2d 869 (2004).
Determining the responsibility of bidders is a job for elected officials, and a court's only role is to review those decisions to make sure the public officials did not act arbitrarily, or from favoritism, ill will, or fraud. Rath v. City of Sutton, 267 Neb. 265, 673 N.W.2d 869 (2004).
In addition to a bidder's pecuniary ability, responsibility pertains to a bidder's ability and capacity to carry on the work, the bidder's equipment and facilities, the bidder's promptness, the quality of work previously done by him or her, the bidder's suitability to the particular task, and such other qualities as are found necessary to consider in order to determine whether or not, if awarded the contract, he or she could perform it strictly in accordance with its terms. Rath v. City of Sutton, 267 Neb. 265, 673 N.W.2d 869 (2004).
Public bodies do not act ministerially only, but exercise an official discretion when passing upon the question of the responsibility of bidders. Rath v. City of Sutton, 267 Neb. 265, 673 N.W.2d 869 (2004).
When responsible bidders submit identical bids, the public body must award the contract to the lowest of the responsible bidders. Rath v. City of Sutton, 267 Neb. 265, 673 N.W.2d 869 (2004).
City council may, in specifications for municipal sewage treatment plant, permit bidders to propose and fix time for completion of proposed works, and may reserve right to omit any or all of separate items from contract for which separate price proposals are asked after bids are opened and before contract awarded, without rendering bidding unlawful. Best v. City of Omaha, 138 Neb. 325, 293 N.W. 116 (1940).