School Districts May Now Accept Electronic Bids for Non-Construction Contracts
On December 23, 2009 the Governor signed into law an amendment to Section 10-20.21 of the School Code that allows school districts to electronically communicate, accept, and open competitive bids for anything other than construction projects. P.A. 96-841 became effective immediately.
Note that even if the bids are accepted electronically, the bid opening must still occur at a public bid opening. At the bid opening, the primary person conducting the electronic bid process must log onto a specified database using a unique username and password previously assigned to the bidder to allow access to the bidder’s specific bid project number.
The law also requires multiple safeguards to prevent bid-rigging and protect the information submitted by bidders. The electronic database must be on a network that:
- Is in a secure environment behind a firewall;
- Has specific encryption tools;
- Maintains specific intrusion detection systems;
- Has redundant systems architecture with data storage back-up, whether by compact disc or tape; and
- Maintains a disaster recovery plan.
The General Assembly’s declared intent for this law is to reduce the administrative costs associated with competitive bidding as well as improve the efficiency of communications with bidders.