Frequently Asked Questions

Bidding

I'm a specialty contractor. How do I bid on one of your projects?

Why can't I find a project on your advertised list?

Can you email me addenda as they come in?

I have a question about a project I'm bidding on.

How do I know what projects will be coming in the future?

Can I see contract documents for projects that have already bid?

May I use a letter of credit or personal guarantee letter in lieu of bid bond?

I provided a cashier's check as my bid security. Since I am not the low bidder, when will I get the cashier's check back from the Department?

I am certain that the state's estimate is incorrect for one or more items. May I correct the quantity on the bid form or indicate that my bid is conditional based on the corrected quantity?

My bid was delivered late to the Department due to the overnight mail service. Will the Department accept the bid since the lateness was caused by the overnight mail company?

My bid was delivered to the Department before bid opening and timestamps at the bid counter. For some reason, my bid was not read. Did the Department lose my bid?

My contractor's license is under suspension by the Contractor's State Licensing Board (CSLB). May I bid on the contract and if so, will the contract be awarded to my company if it is the lowest responsive bidder?

I am the low bidder, when should I submit my insurance policies? What happens if I don't?

If I make a mistake on my bid, how can I retract my bid? When can I notify the Department?

Has the Department changed its requirement regarding work that can be subcontracted?

Should each of the individual contractors (licensees) in a joint venture possess the required license specified in the contract?

What is a bidder's bond and the contract bonds?

In listing my subcontractors on an A+B contract (aka cost plus contract) , the "one-half of one percent" is based on the A or the total of A+B?

In the "Amendments to the Standard Specifications", some specifications refer to either a Federal-aid contract or a non-Federal contract. How can I tell if my contract is a Federal-aid contract or a non-Federal contract?

I sent a letter to the Department requesting relief of bid within the time specified but did not use the "Relief of Bid Request" form. Will my request be considered?

In the "Subcontractor List" form which is included in the Bid book, am I required to list all of my subcontractors? If I forgot to list a subcontractor(s), can I submit a revised subcontractor list?

Can I list 2 or more subcontractors for the same item of work? How should I list them properly in the subcontractor list form?

How can I participate in bidding a construction contract from Caltrans? Does Caltrans have a special requirement from bidders?

After bid verification by Caltrans, it was found out that there was a mistake in my submitted total bid amount. Consequently, my proposal guaranty was exactly equal to 10% of my (incorrect) total bid amount. Upon verification by Caltrans, my verified total bid amount was a found to be more than my original total bid amount. Is my bid still in contention even though my proposal guaranty is less than 10 % of the verified total amount?

Is my bid still acceptable if I did not complete the DES-OE-0102.7 form (Request for Small Business Preference or Non-Small Business Preference) and DES-OE-0102.8 form (Certified Small Business Listing for the Non-Small Business Preference)?

I have three items of work that will be performed by one subcontractor. Individually, the estimated cost for each item is less than the listing threshold, i.e, one-half of one percent of the total bid amount or $10,000, however, the combined cost of the three items amounts to more than the listing threshold. Do I have to list the subcontractor in the Subcontractor List?

Where can I find a calendar of working days?

If I am the monetary low bidder and claim the non-small business preference, can I be displaced by a lower ranked bidder claiming the small business preference?

The revised Subcontractor List form (DES-OE-0102.2 (Rev 2/2010)) requires the information in columns 2 and 4 by 24 hours after bid opening. If the bid opening is on a Thursday before a state furlough Friday, on a non-Furlough Friday, or the day before a holiday, does the bidder have additional time to submit the completed form?

If Caltrans has a Friday bid opening, are the item numbers and percentages (columns 2 &3) due on Saturday at 2 pm or the next business day?

Does the bid bond require the bidder's signature be notarized?

Caltrans Connect

How do I edit or delete an opt-in record I submitted?

Can I tie my connect account to previous projects I've opted in on?

How many accounts can I make using Caltrans Connect?

Contract Award

I am confused as to how the DVBE incentive applies if I am the lowest bidder and meet the 5% DVBE goal for the contract. Can another bidder receive the contract award if it has a higher DVBE utilization?

Can a small business be displaced by another bidder by virtue of the DVBE incentive?

After bid opening, I found that I made a big mistake in my bid. How do I withdraw my bid?

I am a subcontractor. How do I protest the award of the contract to the low bidder?

Why are some contracts awarded within 30 days and some awarded in 60 days?

How does one apply the DVBE incentive together with the small business preference?

How would I know if my claimed DVBE goal and list of certified small businesses for the non-small business preference have been approved/accepted by the Department?

What happens when the 30 or 60 days award time is about to expire?

Now that the state is returning to Furlough Fridays, how does this affect the deadlines for submitting the DBE/DVBE good faith effort documents and the listing of small businesses for the non-small business preference?

General

What is Office Engineer?

Can you give me data on how many projects you advertise / number of bids / etc?

I have a question that's not addressed on your webpage.

Where can I buy copies of Caltrans plans and specs?

Does Caltrans keep and maintain a list of contractors and subcontractors? And is the list available to the public?

Plans

When I want to use a half scale from an 11" x 17" border drawing bid document, why can't I get an accurate reading?

Where can a Contractor request a hardcopy set of prints years after construction of a project?

Are tiff files created and posted to the "as_advertised" website for all addenda changes needed for a project?

Why do you produce plans in TIFF format? Can I get them in PDF instead?

Where can I get a full size set of prints for a project?

Bidding

I'm a specialty contractor. How do I bid on one of your projects?

You'll likely want to bid as a subcontractor on one of our projects. Use our bid item search to find a contract that has the type of work you do, and use the links to contact one of the intended bidding prime contractors with your bid to do a portion of the work. Alternatively, if the contract allows, you can bid as a prime if you are able to perform a sufficient amount of work with your own forces.

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Why can't I find a project on your advertised list?

The most common reason that people can't find projects on our list is that we do not advertise or award contracts under $270,000. We refer to them internally as Minor B projects, and they're advertised here. Other times when a project isn't showing up, it's because it was cancelled. See our addenda page for details on your project.

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Can you email me addenda as they come in?

Unfortunately, we don't email updates. However, we do have an RSS Feed available on our addenda page.

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I have a question about a project I'm bidding on.

You need to contact the construction office handling bidder inquiries for the district that your project is in. Here is a link to them all. The district is the 2-digit number at the beginning of the contract number your project.

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How do I know what projects will be coming in the future?

We have several "upcoming projects" reports available on our Contract Award and Service page. Our 12-month report is a popular resource of what is expected to come up in the following year, and our project look-ahead database is a newer report that also reports on upcoming projects.

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Can I see contract documents for projects that have already bid?

Yes, we have previously bid contract documents available here. Search by district, then by contract number.

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May I use a letter of credit or personal guarantee letter in lieu of bid bond?

No. The bid security, as defined in the Public Contract Code, must be either cash, cashier's check, certified check or bid bond from an admitted surety insurer. The bid security must be at least 10 percent of the bid amount.

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I provided a cashier's check as my bid security. Since I am not the low bidder, when will I get the cashier's check back from the Department?

If your firm is not one of the three low bidders after bid verification, the cashier's check will be returned by overnight mail immediately. If your firm is the first, second or third low bidder, your check will be returned after contract approval. If you request return of your cashier's check before contract approval, your firm will no longer be eligible for the contract.

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I am certain that the state's estimate is incorrect for one or more items. May I correct the quantity on the bid form or indicate that my bid is conditional based on the corrected quantity?

No. An alleged patent ambiguity of the plans, specifications or estimate must be asked before bid opening. The bidder is encouraged to submit a bidder's inquiry prior to bid opening. Further, altering the bid form or specifying conditions in the bid will render the bid nonresponsive.

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My bid was delivered late to the Department due to the overnight mail service. Will the Department accept the bid since the lateness was caused by the overnight mail company?

No. Bids are to be received by the Department by no later than the time set forth in the "Notice to Bidders". Proposals received after the deadline will be returned unopened.

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My bid was delivered to the Department before bid opening and timestamps at the bid counter. For some reason, my bid was not read. Did the Department lose my bid?

Occasionally, bid envelopes received prior to the bid deadline are left in the mail room, delivered to the wrong Caltrans office or are simply overlooked. Upon discovery of such bids, the Department verifies the bid envelope was unopened and received prior to the deadline. Department staff then contact the bidder and the apparent three low bidders to arrange a telephonic bid opening. The bid is opened and read over the telephone with the bidders listening. The Department verifies the bid totals and posts a corrected bid summary on the internet and updates the bid results telephone hotline. The Department apologizes for any inconvenience caused by the misplaced bid.

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My contractor's license is under suspension by the Contractor's State Licensing Board (CSLB). May I bid on the contract and if so, will the contract be awarded to my company if it is the lowest responsive bidder?

The contractor may bid the contract if the license is under suspension; however, the contract will not be awarded to the bidder if the suspension is in effect during the bid evaluation period. The Department will confirm the suspension with the CSLB then alert the bidder. At its discretion, the Department may provide the bidder a reasonable amount of time to work with CSLB to remove the suspension. Otherwise, the contract will be awarded to the next lowest responsive bidder.

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I am the low bidder, when should I submit my insurance policies? What happens if I don't?

If you are the low bidder and are awarded the contract, thus making you the "successful bidder", submit your insurance policies together with the signed contract form, contract bonds etc. as specified in Section 3-1.09 of the contracts special provisions. If you fail to submit on the specified deadline, the award of the contract to you will be rescinded.

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If I make a mistake on my bid, how can I retract my bid? When can I notify the Department?

After opening of the bid proposals, you can request for a relief of bid. The request should be received by the Department within 5 business days after opening of the proposals (bid opening).

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Has the Department changed its requirement regarding work that can be subcontracted?

Yes. The newer contracts specify that the prime must self-perform contract work that is at least 30 percent of the value of its original total bid. However, there are still a few contracts that specify that the prime contractor must self-perform at least 50 percent of the value of the total bid. It is recommended to read the "Subcontracting" section of the contract's special provisions.

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Should each of the individual contractors (licensees) in a joint venture possess the required license specified in the contract?

No. However, the joint venture license should match the type of license specified by the contract. Per Section 7029 of the Business and Professions Code, a joint venture license may be issued in any classification in which at least one of the entities is licensed. The section also requires that each licensee holds a current and active license in good standing.

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What is a bidder's bond and the contract bonds?

A bidder's bond aka: bidder's security, proposal guaranty is 10% of the total bid that is submitted with the bid proposal. The contract bonds are the payment bond and the performance bond that must be submitted by the successful (awarded) bidder which are required before contract approval.

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In listing my subcontractors on an A+B contract (aka cost plus contract) , the "one-half of one percent" is based on the A or the total of A+B?

When listing the subcontractors on an A+B contract, the one-half of one percent is based on the "A" portion only.

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In the "Amendments to the Standard Specifications", some specifications refer to either a Federal-aid contract or a non-Federal contract. How can I tell if my contract is a Federal-aid contract or a non-Federal contract?

A federal-aid contract has a Federal-Aid Project number on the cover of the Notice to Bidders and Special Provisions.

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I sent a letter to the Department requesting relief of bid within the time specified but did not use the "Relief of Bid Request" form. Will my request be considered?

Your request will be considered. However you will be directed to complete the form and submit the form with your supporting documents as soon as possible.

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In the "Subcontractor List" form which is included in the Bid book, am I required to list all of my subcontractors? If I forgot to list a subcontractor(s), can I submit a revised subcontractor list?

You are required to list all subcontractors that you intend to use in the contract whose subcontract work amount to more that one half of one percent of its total bid or $10,000 whichever is greater. You can not revised a subcontractor list once your bid is accepted. However, subcontractor substitution may be allowed only when the conditions described in Section 4107 of the Public Contract Code apply.

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Can I list 2 or more subcontractors for the same item of work? How should I list them properly in the subcontractor list form?

Yes. You can list 2 or more subcontractors for the same item of work.. However, in order not to run afoul with the provisions in Sections 4104(b) and 4106 of the Public Contract Code, you have to describe in detail the specific work that each subcontractor will perform for that item of work. The description should be written clearly in the Subcontractor List form.

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How can I participate in bidding a construction contract from Caltrans? Does Caltrans have a special requirement from bidders?

In general, Caltrans requires that the bidder possesses the correct license(s) specified for the contract and that the license should be current and in good standing. The bidder should also be able to submit a proposal guaranty which is at least 10% of its bid amount.

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After bid verification by Caltrans, it was found out that there was a mistake in my submitted total bid amount. Consequently, my proposal guaranty was exactly equal to 10% of my (incorrect) total bid amount. Upon verification by Caltrans, my verified total bid amount was a found to be more than my original total bid amount. Is my bid still in contention even though my proposal guaranty is less than 10 % of the verified total amount?

No. Your bid will be found non-responsive and you can not submit another proposal guaranty for cover the difference or replace your original proposal guaranty.

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Is my bid still acceptable if I did not complete the DES-OE-0102.7 form (Request for Small Business Preference or Non-Small Business Preference) and DES-OE-0102.8 form (Certified Small Business Listing for the Non-Small Business Preference)?

To receive either the Small Business Preference or the Non-Small Business Preference, you must request either, but not both, preference by completing. signing and submitting form DES-OE-0102.7 with your bid. Failure to request either preference will not render the bid non responsive, but will disqualify your firm for the preference on the contract. Form DES-OE-0102.8 may be submitted with your bid or mailed such that it is received by the Department no later than 4 pm on the second business day after bid opening. If you make a mistake on DES-OE-0102.8, you may correct it as long as the corrected form is received no later than 4 pm on the second business day after bid opening.

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I have three items of work that will be performed by one subcontractor. Individually, the estimated cost for each item is less than the listing threshold, i.e, one-half of one percent of the total bid amount or $10,000, however, the combined cost of the three items amounts to more than the listing threshold. Do I have to list the subcontractor in the Subcontractor List?

Yes. List also the items of work that he will be performing and indicate also the amount of work he is performing on said items in percentage.

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Where can I find a calendar of working days?

We have a calendar of working days available here: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/construc/calendar/index.htm

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If I am the monetary low bidder and claim the non-small business preference, can I be displaced by a lower ranked bidder claiming the small business preference?

Yes. The California Code of Regulations Section 1896.8 states:
a. If, after application of the small business preference to the bid of a small business, that bid is equal to the lowest priced, responsive bid from a responsible non-small business, or equal to the highest scored bid offered by a responsible non-small business, as applicable, the contract shall be awarded to the small business for the amount of its bid.
b. If, after application of the non-small business subcontractor preference, a responsible non-small business that has submitted a responsive bid is the lowest bidder, and does not displace a small business from winning the award (emphasis added), the contract shall be awarded to the non-small business for the amount of its bid.
Accordingly, the Department applies the small business preference to eligible firms first, then applies the non-small business preference if doing so would not displace a small business from winning the award.

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The revised Subcontractor List form (DES-OE-0102.2 (Rev 2/2010)) requires the information in columns 2 and 4 by 24 hours after bid opening. If the bid opening is on a Thursday before a state furlough Friday, on a non-Furlough Friday, or the day before a holiday, does the bidder have additional time to submit the completed form?

No additional time is allowed to submit the Subcontractor List form in the event the bid opening precedes a non-business day (Saturday, holiday, furlough day). Fax your completed form to (916) 227-6282 within 24 hours of the bid opening.

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If Caltrans has a Friday bid opening, are the item numbers and percentages (columns 2 &3) due on Saturday at 2 pm or the next business day?

The Subcontractor List updated with the item numbers and percentages (columns 2 & 3) is due either with the bid or within 24 hours of bid opening, even when the due date is not a business day. Fax your the Subcontractor List to (916) 227-6282 within 24 hours of bid opening.

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Does the bid bond require the bidder's signature be notarized?

No, the bidder's signature on the bid bond does not need to be notarized. However, the surety's signature must be notarized.

Caltrans Connect

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How do I edit or delete an opt-in record I submitted?

This is possible if you submitted the opt-in request while logged into the Connect feature. On either the advertised project page or the "my projects" page, you'll see "opted in" where you'd normally opt in. Click on that link, and you can either make edits, or delete the submission completely.

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Can I tie my connect account to previous projects I've opted in on?

Sure. If you send us an email at this address, we can help you do this.

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How many accounts can I make using Caltrans Connect?

You can make as many accounts as you like. Ideally, each estimator in a company will have their own account, though sharing accounts is permitted as well.

Contract Award

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I am confused as to how the DVBE incentive applies if I am the lowest bidder and meet the 5% DVBE goal for the contract. Can another bidder receive the contract award if it has a higher DVBE utilization?

No. The Department confirms the DVBE participation after the bids are verified and ranked inclusive of the Small Business Preference. If the apparent low bidder (after small business preference) met the 5% DVBE goal, another bidder can not become low bidder with the DVBE incentive.

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Can a small business be displaced by another bidder by virtue of the DVBE incentive?

A certified small business can only be displaced with the DVBE incentive provisions by another certified small business.

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After bid opening, I found that I made a big mistake in my bid. How do I withdraw my bid?

Download the bid relief request form here. Complete and sign the form, attach supporting documentation and fax to (916) 227-6282 before 4 pm on the fifth business day after bid opening.

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I am a subcontractor. How do I protest the award of the contract to the low bidder?

Only bidders may protest the contract award. A bidder may submit a bid protest at any time up to contract award. Fax the protest letter to the attention of the Office Engineer at (916) 227-6282.

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Why are some contracts awarded within 30 days and some awarded in 60 days?

For projects estimated at $200 million and less, award is made within 30 days after opening of the proposals (bids). For projects estimated at $200 million and more, award is made within 60 after opening of proposals. There may be instances where award may be extended beyond the aforementioned schedules e.g. budget issues.

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How does one apply the DVBE incentive together with the small business preference?

The small business preference is applied first. Once a bidder is determined to be the low bidder after application of the small business preference, he will not be displaced by another bidder unless this other bidder is a small business entity and becomes the low bidder by virtue of the DVBE incentive.

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How would I know if my claimed DVBE goal and list of certified small businesses for the non-small business preference have been approved/accepted by the Department?

The Department's Contract Evaluation Unit (CEU) aka Civil Rights Unit will contact you if it finds errors or discrepancies in your submittal. Otherwise, consider your submittal as approved. It usually takes 2 weeks for CEU to make the evaluations from the time you submit your DVBE and list of small businesses.

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What happens when the 30 or 60 days award time is about to expire?

Before the 30 or 60 days award time is about to expire, the Department will propose an extension and will contact the 3 low bidders if they agree. Expect a call from the Department at least one week before the 30 or 60 days expire.

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Now that the state is returning to Furlough Fridays, how does this affect the deadlines for submitting the DBE/DVBE good faith effort documents and the listing of small businesses for the non-small business preference?

State furlough days will be treated as a non business day for the purposes of submittal deadlines to DES-Office Engineer.

General

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What is Office Engineer?

Office Engineer is a division of Caltrans that performs several important duties. Our most visible and external duty is advertising and awarding contracts. We also maintain and publish construction standards (plans and specifications) and work with the contracting industry to provide continuously better service.

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Can you give me data on how many projects you advertise / number of bids / etc?

Unfortunately, we cannot do data mining or processing for company research, student projects, or marketing groups. If we do have a data source externally available, we'd be happy to direct you to the raw data.

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I have a question that's not addressed on your webpage.

Contact us!

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Where can I buy copies of Caltrans plans and specs?

Our publications website has all the information you need to purchase any hard copies of our standards. Our 2006 Standard Plans and 2006 Standard Specifications are $20 each.

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Does Caltrans keep and maintain a list of contractors and subcontractors? And is the list available to the public?

Caltrans retains all bid information, but there is not a list of contractors and subcontractors that is available to the public.

Plans

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When I want to use a half scale from an 11" x 17" border drawing bid document, why can't I get an accurate reading?

The 11" x 17" bid documents are reproduced at 47.5% (not 50%) from the original 22" x 34" drawing for binding purposes.

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Where can a Contractor request a hardcopy set of prints years after construction of a project?

You can find them at the district office who has responsible charge of the electronic files for that project, not the district where the work was performed. Your RE should be able to guide you to the correct district.

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Are tiff files created and posted to the "as_advertised" website for all addenda changes needed for a project?

No. Only changes that are required to be done on the electronic files. Tiff files are not created for verbatim addenda information.
Example: "Project Plan Sheet # is revised as follows..."

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Why do you produce plans in TIFF format? Can I get them in PDF instead?

We currently use TIFF format because it produces a high quality, accurate drawing without distortion. We do plan to eventually move to PDF format, and our CADD staff is working toward that goal. At this time, we do not have a date of when we will start offering PDF files for our plans. There are a large number of computer applications that can read and print TIFF files.

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Where can I get a full size set of prints for a project?

Two Options:
Option No. 1. The request should be made to the district 15 days after the project is awarded. They will have the final electronic bid plans set. Full size printers are available in every district for contractors to request a full size set of prints on demand.
Option No. 2. The tiff files on the As_Advertised web site can be downloaded, burned to a CD, then taken to your local print store for full size reproducibles.

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