This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Where the statute requires the contract to be let to "the lowest and best" bidder, a discretion is vested in the officials who let the contract to determine who is the "best."1 Such statutes are intended "for the benefit and protection of the public rather than that of the bidders and . . . they confer no absolute right" upon a bidder,2 which discretion cannot be controlled by mandamus.3 If the right to reject all bids is reserved, the lowest reliable bidder cannot force the board to let the contract to him though the statute requires the contract to be let to the lowest bidder, if reliable.4 When bids are offered for heating apparatus, each for a different patent, the board may select the most suitable and is not confined to the lowest.5 It is presumed that the board did its duty in awarding bids.6 The word "responsible" includes ability to perform the contract in a satisfactory manner, and such bidder is not necessarily the lowest.7 The skill and integrity of the bidder are to be considered as well as the amount of the bid.8 So where the contract is to be let to the lowest responsible bidder who can do satisfactory work, this need not be the lowest bidder,9 but is the lowest responsible bidder offering the best terms,10 and the lowest, bidder cannot enforce the letting of the contracts to himself.11
9 Times Printing Co. v. Seattle, 25 Wash. 149; 64 Pac. 940.
10 Barfield v. Louisville (Ky.), 64 S. W. 959; modifying on rehearing, Kimberger v. Bitzer, 111 Ky. 429; 63 S. W. 964; s. c. also cited as Barfield v. Gleason.
11 Trapp v. Newport, - Ky. -; 74 S. W. 1109; Trowbridge v. Hudson, 24 Ohio C. C. 76.
1 Kelly v. Chicago, 62 111. 279; Mayo v. Hampden Co., 141 Mass. 74; 6 N. E. 757; State v. McGrath, 91 Mo. 386; Hoole v. Kinkead, 16 Nev. 217; State ex rel. Van Reipen, Mayor, etc., of Jersey City, 58 N. J. L. 262; 33 Atl. 740; East River, etc., Co. v. Donnelly. 93 N. Y. 557; Copper v. Hermann. 6 Ohio N. P.
452; Interstate, etc., Co. v. Philadelphia, 164 Pa. St. 477; 30 Atl. 383; Douglass v. Commonwealth, 108 Pa. St. 559; Reuting v. Titusville, 175 Pa. St. 512; 34 Atl. 916; Times Publishing Co. v. Everett, 9 Wash. 518; 43 Am. St. Rep. 865; 37 Pac. 695.
2 State v. Richards, 16 Mont. 145, 156; 50 Am. St. Rep. 476; 28 L. R. A. 298; 40 Pac. 210.
3 State v. Rickards, 16 Mont. 145; 50 Am. St. Rep. 476; 28 L. R. A. 298; 40 Pac. 210; State v. Hermann. 63 O. S. 440; 59 N. E. 104. Contra, a gross abuse of discretion will be controlled by mandamus. Inge v. Board of Public Works, 135 Ala. 187; 93 Am. St. Rep. 20; 33 So. 678.