The emerging electronic bidding process for construction projects is gaining new players. A Pennsylvania vendor has rolled out a system adaptable for public and private owners and a New York firm is taking aim at state transportation markets.
The Allegheny County (Pa.) Public Works Dept. recently used an Internet-based system from Pelleon L.P., Wexford, Pa., to bid the Painters Run Road reconstruction, a $2.8-million project. The process "went pretty well," says Don Killmeyer Jr., the county's deputy director of engineering, although he says the county has no immediate plans to adopt e-bidding across the board. Click here to view graph
The county handled most bid management tasks electronically, including distributing plans on CDs and posting and receiving bid information on the Internet. Bidders were required to bid electronically via a project home page on Pelleon's Website. They also could submit bonds on paper or electronically using a service from Surety2000 Corp., New York City.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission has also tested the Pelleon system. State law currently requires bids to be signed and sealed, which has prevented the agency from taking the system live, says Jeff Tuckerman, project administrator for OSFC in Columbus. The agency voluntarily used the system for a school project in eastern Ohio's West Branch School District to post bidder lists and handle requests for information. Bidders could also post duplicate bids electronically. OSFC is in discussions with the state attorney general in hopes of modifying the requirement.
OSFC also is conducting a similar, parallel-process approach for bidding four school projects worth $45 million in the Conneaut School District, says Patrick O'Brien, director of K-12 construction management services for OSFC's consultant, URS Corp., in its Youngstown, Ohio, office. The first project will be let in October. With reduced printing costs and "increased bidder coverage," O'Brien sees owners and contractors both benefiting.
John Menniti, president of Pelleon, says the system is geared for mid-size public agencies and private owners. "We consider ourselves a service, not just a software company," says Menniti, a licensed engineer with both consulting and federal government experience. He says his firm can cut owners' typical labor and printing costs for bid management from 0.5 to 1% of construction costs to less than 0.2%.
State DOTs have been wading into e-bidding for several years, using the Expedite system developed by Info Tech, Gainesville, Fla., and licensed from the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (ENR 2/26/01 p. 53). But New York City-based TranspoLink.com offers another alternative, says Richard Rosenzweig, the company's CEO. TranspoLink's DOTLink is an online system that charges contractors monthly or by the project. There is no upfront fee for owners, he says. Expedite and its companion service, Bidx.com, let contractors bid on disk or via the Internet.
Transpolink.com also developed BidLink, which includes an Internet-accessed database where contractors can review transportation projects in various states (ENR 1/15/01 p. 25).
With 36 states now using some form of e-bidding, the Federal Highway Administration has established a technical advisory called Internet Bidding for Highway Construction Projects to offer guidance on software implementation and other issues. The advisory will be available on FHWA's Website (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/index.htm) in late 2002, officials say.