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The Evolution of Electronic Bidding in New Jersey

June 10, 2022

When state agencies make the transition from paper bidding to electronic, it can feel like a switch is getting flipped. Everything from filing cabinets to postage stamps instantly feel like an artifact of the past. But while the benefits of e-bidding are sudden, the process of instituting it is often less so. As we look back at the previous two decades of electronic bidding in New Jersey, we see major milestones along the gradual march to the recently signed “Electronic Construction Procurement Act.”

New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) adopts an electronic bidding system for construction

Seeking ways to do more with less, the New Jersey DOT first implemented a system for electronic bidding in August of 2005. Their goal was to add efficiency to the bidding process by offering an avenue for submitting bids online. These online submissions would save time, paper, and costs associated with hand delivery. Additionally, the ease of online submission meant vendors had more flexibility to adjust their bid up to the last minute. In that first year of online bidding, around 15% of bids were submitted electronically.

NJDOT experiences significant savings though online plan room

Cutting down on paper waste was always a primary concern for the agency. For each project, mounds of paper plan sheets would pile up as the staff tried to predict how many contractors would need them for the bid. Some contractors would come in, while others would have the plans mailed to their office. The costs added up. Fortunately, the agency’s new online bidding platform also offered an Online Plan Sheets service that enabled contractors to access, order, and print plan sets online. By shifting to an online planroom, the agency saved over $150,000 in document-related costs.

Contractor involvement pushes online bidding expansion

Contractors, now free to submit bids online and no longer subjected to the stresses of traffic, weather, and parking, quickly embraced electronic bidding with the DOT. In fact, contractors are one of the main driving forces for the growth of e-bidding in New Jersey. By March 2007, 100% of NJDOT’s bids were received over the internet.

In the years that followed, e-bidding systems would expand to New Jersey Transit (2013), New Jersey Turnpike Authority (2015) and South Jersey Transportation Authority (2019). As advocates for the benefits of electronic bidding, contractors were instrumental in this expansion.

e-Bidding and e-Procurement expand to local NJ agencies

By the late 2010s, New Jersey lawmakers were also on board with all of the efficiencies and cost-savings associated with electronic bidding. A series of legislative moves further popularized e-bidding practices in the state. In July of 2020, New Jersey Governor Murphy signed the Electronic Procurement Act, which “permits local governments to use an electronic construction procurement process for public works construction contracts.” Furthermore, this bill mandates that the State use an electronic procurement process for public works construction projects that require public advertisement.

Looking at the future of electronic bidding

As e-bidding spreads to local agencies throughout New Jersey, proponents are starting to ask - what’s next? For a state focused on efficiency and innovation, there’s always more that can be done to improve the bidding process. The future of e-bidding technology is centered around a few key ideas:

  • Vendor personalization: adapting e-bidding tools so they showcase the most essential information depending on if the bidder is a prime, sub, or supplier.

  • Opportunity-finding: exploring new ways to connect vendors with the work that matters most to their business.

  • Information-sharing: providing a hub where agencies and vendors can connect, communicate, and share information.

Finding the right fit with Bid Express

State and local agencies in New Jersey use Bid Express for their e-bidding needs. Compliant with NJ law, Bid Express helps organizations protect their process from errors, save on paper waste, and grow their bidding audience. The history of Bid Express in NJ includes:

  • 8000+ solicitations processed

  • 2000+ in-state bidders

  • $73 billion in value of bids processed

If you’re interested in learning more about how working with us could simplify your solicitation process, contact us.

Authors

Ward Zerbe
Vice President of AASHTOWare Products
Ward manages the development and delivery of the AASHTOWare Project software used in most state departments of transportation for managing construction contracts. He has more than 36 years experience in software development, network communications, and the application of information systems. Ward graduated from The George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and information systems and he holds the PMP certification from the Project Management Institute. Ward’s career highlights include implementing a nationwide network infrastructure for the Federal Highway Administration, supporting intelligent transportation systems for the Maryland Department of Transportation, and delivering imaging and document management systems for pharmaceutical companies. Ward also spent a year overseas as an adviser to the Royal Thai Government implementing a project management system.
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