(1) "Sealed bid" is the preferred method of competitive procurement for state supply contracts and service contracts estimated to exceed the amount designated in ARM 2.5.603 as a small purchase or a limited solicitation. Sealed bids shall be solicited with an invitation for bid.
(2) The invitation for bid shall include the following:
(a) instructions and information to bidders concerning the bid submission requirements, including the time and date established for bid opening, the address of the office to which bids are to be delivered, and any other special information;
(b) the purchase description, delivery or performance schedule, and any inspection and acceptance requirements not included in the purchase description; and
(c) the contract terms and conditions, including warranty and bonding or other security requirements, as applicable.
(3) The invitation for bid may incorporate documents by reference if the invitation for bid specifies where such documents can be obtained.
(4) Where a brand name specification is used in a solicitation, the solicitation shall contain explanatory language that the use of a brand name is for the purpose of describing the standard of quality, performance, and characteristics desired, and is not intended to limit or restrict competition. When bidding an "or equal" product, the burden of persuasion is on the bidder to convince the procurement officer that their product is, in fact, equal to the one specified. The procurement officer is given the responsibility and judgment for making a final determination of whether a proposed substitution is equal to the brand name specified.
(5) Addenda, if any, will be provided to all vendors who received an invitation for bid, or notice of the addenda will be placed in the electronic format designated for giving public notice.
(6) Upon receipt of a bid or a facsimile transmission of a bid, an employee of the agency other than the procurement officer will cause it to be time-stamped and stored in a secure place until the time and date set for bid opening. In order to be considered timely, a complete printed bid response must be delivered to the specified destination by the specified time.
(7) Bids shall be opened publicly at the time, date, and place designated in the invitation for bid.
(8) The division may request state agencies to perform tests or to provide technical expertise to determine product or service acceptability on bids received.
(9) Following determination of product acceptability, bids will be reviewed to determine which bidder offers the lowest cost to the state in accordance with the specifications set forth in the invitation for bids, including the reciprocal preference provisions described in ARM 2.5.408.
(10) Nothing in this rule shall be deemed to permit contract award to a bidder submitting a higher quality item than that designated in the invitation for bid if such bidder is not also the lowest bidder as determined under (9).
(11) Multiple award contracts are allowable if determined to be in the best interest of the state.
(12) In the case of a tie bid, the discretion of the division or the head of a purchasing agency will be used to resolve such bids, except that a bidder offering American-made products or supplies must be given preference.
(13) A supplier's currently advertised or established catalog price, which is available to the public, may be accepted as a bid subject to the following conditions:
(a) The advertisement or established catalog price must be received and time-stamped by the procurement officer authorized to enter into contracts prior to or at the bid opening. In no event will catalog or advertised prices be accepted after a bid opening.
(i) a copy of the catalog or advertised price and specifications may be attached to the requisition received by the procurement official; or
(ii) the procurement official or the requesting agency may locate catalog or advertised prices; or
(iii) a vendor may submit catalog or advertised prices as a bid.
(b) The catalog or advertised price must meet or exceed the specifications, terms, and conditions and be the lowest acceptable bid.
(14) The currently advertised or established catalog price is tabulated and recorded as a bid from the supplier for the inspection of all bidders.
(15) Only the procurement official of the division or purchasing agency can make the final determination of acceptance or rejection of the bids or publicly advertised or established catalog prices.