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DOT working to get electronic bid system back up for contractors

PIERRE -- The electronic bidding system that contractors have been using for years in competing for South Dakota highway projects might return to service as early as September, but this time it would be run completely by state government rather t...

PIERRE -- The electronic bidding system that contractors have been using for years in competing for South Dakota highway projects might return to service as early as September, but this time it would be run completely by state government rather than a private firm.

State Transportation Commission members received a briefing Thursday about the concept that will be used to replace the Utah-based User Trust system that was taken down by a hacker earlier this year.

The state Bureau of Information and Telecommunications is working with the state Department of Transportation in designing the new secure system. Contractors would be able to continue using their software from the User Trust system but their bids would be submitted to a special state electronic vault where they would be encrypted until the bid-opening time.

Contractors have been submitting paper versions of their bids since April when the problems shut down User Trust.

"We're excited things are moving fairly quickly here," said Joel Jundt, DOT's director of planning and engineering.

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Under the state system, contractors would create their own passwords that wouldn't be available to anyone including DOT and BIT staff.

DOT wouldn't have access to the bids until the opening time, and contractors could electronically withdraw their bids and submit changes if they chose until the deadline for each bid letting.

DOT officials told the commissioners they hope to have the new system running in September but can push the start date back to November or December if necessary.

"I'm glad it's all in-house," Commissioner Bob Benson, of Winner said.

"I think in-house is exciting," added Commissioner Ralph Marquardt, of Yankton.

Contractors are "very happy" that electronic bidding will return, according Darby Warne, a representative for the highway division of the Associated General Contractors of South Dakota.

"They're very, very much looking forward to it," she said.

Related Topics: TRANSPORTATION
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