In recent months the New Jersey Appellate Division issued two opinions clarifying aspects of the New Jersey Local Public Contracts Law, which generally mandates that contracts above a specified amount be awarded by municipalities to the lowest responsible bidder after public advertising for bids and bidding, N.J.S.A. § 40A:11-4, and also sets forth specific, non-waiveable bid requirements, the absence of which will result in a per se disqualification of the bid. N.J.S.A. § 40A:11-23.2.
An exception to the lowest-responsible-bidder mandate is recognized when the municipality has publicly advertised on two prior occasions but was unable to obtain reasonably-priced bids, in which case a municipality is permitted to negotiate a public contract without public advertising and bidding. See N.J.S.A. § 40A:11-5(3). In C&H Industrial Services, Inc. v. City of Vineland, the court considered whether defects in proposals submitted pursuant to the LPCL’s negotiated procurement process set forth in N.J.S.A. § 40A:11-5(3) can invalidate proposals in the same manner as defects in bids submitted pursuant to the public advertisement process.