Dozens of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of America’s small construction firms— whether minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, HUBZone or just plain old small business—agree: using reverse auctions to procure construction services for the federal government does not save money, does not encourage quality and does not help small businesses.
Reverse auctions do not guarantee the lowest price for a contract. Rather, like in “The Price is Right” game show, they guarantee that one business will underbid others by just one dollar. A bidder has no incentive to offer its best price and may never have to offer its lowest price. Nevertheless, business do offer their best price for low price technically acceptable procurements and other contracting approaches conducted through sealed bids, where competitors do not know their competitor’s price. Data reporting any bid savings is, therefore, highly questionable.
Reverse auctions do not make sense for the procurement of many contracts, particularly those for professional services and especially construction services.
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