Satellite Television Engineering, Inc. v. Department of General Services

Decision Date11 March 1988
Docket NumberNo. BR-162,BR-162
Citation13 Fla. L. Weekly 643,522 So.2d 440
Parties46 Ed. Law Rep. 478, 13 Fla. L. Weekly 643 SATELLITE TELEVISION ENGINEERING, INC., Appellant, v. DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL SERVICES, Microdyne Corporation and Department of Education, Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Richard A. Lotspeich of Landers, Parsons & Uhlfelder, Tallahassee, for appellant.

Sandra E. Allen, Dept. of Gen. Services, Office of the Gen. Counsel, Tallahassee, for appellee Dept. of Gen. Services.

Sydney H. McKenzie III, Gen. Counsel and Charles S. Ruberg, Counsel, Dept. of Educ., Tallahassee, for appellee Dept. of Educ.

Paul Watson Lambert of Taylor, Brion, Buker & Greene, Tallahassee, for Microdyne Corp.

JOANOS, Judge.

Satellite Television Engineering, Inc. (Satellite) appeals a final order of the Department of General Services (DGS), authorizing the Department of Education (DOE) to negotiate a contract with Microdyne Corporation (Microdyne) for the purchase of a satellite television network. Satellite presents two issues for our review: (1) whether the award of the contract to Microdyne is valid, and (2) whether DGS has statutory authority to authorize DOE to award the contract to Microdyne. We affirm.

On February 14, 1986, DOE issued Invitation to Bid No. 86-54, to provide services for a statewide satellite telecommunications network. The bid invitation was sent to 108 vendors, which included every vendor on the list provided by DGS, plus additional vendors identified through DOE's own efforts. Satellite and Microdyne were on the list of vendors receiving bid invitations.

After issuing the invitation, DOE modified the original bid specifications, relaxing some of the requirements in order to increase the number of vendors capable of providing the equipment. On March 5, 1986, DOE issued an addendum to the bid invitation. A second addendum was issued on March 17, 1986. Six companies responded to the second addendum. DOE disqualified one of the bids on technical grounds, rejected four of the bids--including that of Satellite--as non-responsive, and announced its intention to award the bid to Microdyne, the sole responsive bidder.

Satellite filed a formal protest to the award of the bid to Microdyne. After a hearing, the hearing officer entered his recommended order, finding that DOE had acted in compliance with the applicable rules and statutes in rejecting Satellite's bid, and further finding that Satellite's protest should be dismissed because its bid did not meet bid specifications. On August 14, 1986, the Commissioner of Education entered a final order adopting the hearing officer's recommended order.

Thereafter, the Commissioner of Education requested permission from DGS, Division of Purchasing (Division) to enter into a contract with Microdyne. On September 8, 1986, DGS gave notice of its intent to authorize DOE to enter into the contract. Satellite filed a formal protest, pursuant to section 120.53(5), Florida Statutes. At a conference held October 2, 1986, efforts to resolve the protest proved unsuccessful. Since it was determined that there were no disputed issues of material fact, DGS assigned the case to Mr. Raymond K. Petty, an attorney in the DGS Division of Bond Finance.

On October 28, 1986, an informal hearing was held before Mr. Petty. A Division purchasing specialist testified that after reviewing DOE's bid process, he recommended authorizing DOE to negotiate with Microdyne, the only responsive bidder. The purchasing specialist found that (1) DOE had complied with all rules and regulations governing the bid process, (2) a hearing had taken place and a recommendation had been made, (3) there was a possibility that the funds would be lost if there were further delays, (4) there was no guarantee that rebidding would serve any useful purpose in that past Division experience had demonstrated that second bids were seldom fruitful, and (5) based on past experience and the documentation submitted, the Division concluded that authorizing DOE to negotiate with Microdyne was in the state's best interest. DGS acknowledged there was no existing emergency requiring purchase of the equipment from Microdyne, and that Microdyne is not the only available source for the equipment required by DOE for its telecommunications network.

On November 13, 1986, the hearing officer entered a corrected recommended order recommending that DGS enter a final order authorizing DOE to negotiate a contract with Microdyne for the satellite television network. On December 2, 1986, the Governor and Cabinet approved the final order which adopted the findings of fact, conclusions of law and the recommendation of the hearing officer's corrected recommended order.

On December 30, 1986, Satellite filed its notice of appeal. On January 7, 1987, DOE entered into a contract with Microdyne. On January 13, 1987, Satellite filed a motion for stay pending review of the final order. DGS denied the motion for stay on February 17, 1987.

Briefly stated, the parties have advanced the following positions: (1) Satellite contends that receipt of one valid bid equates to "no competitive bids," which, absent the existence of any of the section 287.062(1)(a)-(e) exceptions, requires the Division to institute a second round of bidding; (2) DGS agrees that receipt of one valid bid equates to "no competitive bids," but contends that under the statute, DGS has discretion to authorize the agency to negotiate a contract with the one valid bidder, or to require a second bidding, after the agency's certification of the conditions and circumstances, and (3) DOE contends that receipt of one valid bid, together with nonresponsive bids, constitutes competitive bidding within the meaning of the statute, and permits award of the contract to the responsive bidder without further ado.

Resolution of this case turns upon the construction to be accorded section 287.062(1) and (2), Florida Statutes (Supp.1986). It is well settled that the goal or purpose of statutory construction is to ascertain, so as to give effect to, legislative intent. City of Boca Raton v. Gidman, 440 So.2d 1277, 1281 (Fla.1983); State v. Webb, 398 So.2d 820, 824 (Fla.1981); State v. Hodges, 506 So.2d 437, 439 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987). That intent is to be gleaned primarily from the language of the statute. Department of Legal Affairs v. Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club, Inc., 434 So.2d 879 (Fla.1983); Thayer v. State, 335 So.2d 815, 816 (Fla.1976); State v. Hodges, supra.

In addition, it is generally recognized that an agency's interpretation of a statute which it is charged to administer is entitled to great weight. "However, this deference is not without limit." Palm Harbor Special Fire Control District v. Kelly, 516 So.2d 249, 250 (Fla.1987); Pan American World Airways, Inc. v. Florida Public Service Commission, 427 So.2d 716 (Fla.1983); Department of Professional Regulation, Board of Medical Examiners v. Durrani, 455 So.2d 515 (Fla. 1st DCA 1984). A corollary to this principle is the rule that an agency is accorded a wide discretion in soliciting and accepting bids for public purposes, and when that discretion has been fairly and honestly exercised, it will not be set aside. Liberty County v. Baxter's Asphalt and Concrete, Inc., 421 So.2d 505 (Fla.1982); Capeletti Bros., Inc. v. State Department of General Services, 432 So.2d 1359 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983).

Application of the foregoing principles to the instant case demonstrates first, that the stated legislative intent with respect to the Chapter 287 procurement of commodities and services for the state, is to further "fair and open competition," so as to "establish public confidence in the process by which contractual services are procured." § 287.001, Fla.Stat. (1985). 1 See also Liberty County v. Baxter's Asphalt, 421 So.2d at 505, in which the court, quoting Wester v. Belote, 103 Fla. 976, 138 So. 721, 724 (1931), said--

public bids statutes "serve the object of protecting the public against collusive contracts and prevent favoritism ... by public officials and tend to secure fair competition upon equal terms to all bidders, [and] they remove temptation on the part of public officers to seek private gain at the taxpayers' expense, are of highly remedial character, and should receive a construction always which will effectuate their true intent and purpose and which will avoid the likelihood of same being circumvented, evaded, or defeated."

The provisions concerning competitive bid requirements and procedures which...

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    • 25 Octubre 2017
    ...(Fla. 3d DCA 1992) (discussing public policy considerations pertaining to public contracts); Satellite Television Eng'g, Inc. v. Dep't of Gen. Servs., 522 So.2d 440 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988) (discussing the competitive bidding process for public contracts). In short, to the extent that the term "......
  • Lee Mem'l Health Sys. v. Progressive Select Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • 20 Diciembre 2018
    ...(Fla. 3d DCA 1992) (discussing public policy considerations pertaining to public contracts); Satellite Television Eng'g, Inc. v. Dep't of Gen. Servs. , 522 So.2d 440 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988) (discussing the competitive bidding process for public contracts). In short, to the extent that the term ......
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    ...This question must be answered in the affirmative in view of our recent decision in Satellite Television Engineering Inc., v. Department of General Services, 522 So.2d 440 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988). In that case we construed the definition of "responsive bidder" in section 287.012(12), Florida St......

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