Provincial supreme court judge M. Heather Robertson has ordered HRM to pay Amber Contracting of Dartmouth $147,560 plus court costs as restitution for "bid shopping." As explained Robertson's decision, Amber won the bid for a contract related to the construction of the new Dartmouth sewage plant. While the $570,612 bid was lower than two other bids, it far exceeded the $158,240 estimate that a consultant had established for the work.
Rather than award the contract and find the money, the city re-bid the entire job. On the second go-round, a fourth bidder, Eisener Contracting of Fall River, under-bid Amber. Of course, Eisener knew what the other companies had bid on the project, and could under-price its competitors.
The issues raised are complicated---read the entire decision here---but in the end, Robertson found that "here is in fact an issue of credibility with all of the HRM employees..."