If a public improvement contract is competitively bid and all responsive bids from responsible bidders exceed the contracting agency’s cost estimate, the contracting agency, in accordance with rules adopted by the contracting agency, may negotiate with the lowest responsive, responsible bidder, prior to awarding the contract, in order to solicit value engineering and other options to attempt to bring the contract within the contracting agency’s cost estimate. A negotiation with the lowest responsive, responsible bidder under this section may not result in the award of the contract to that bidder if the scope of the project is significantly changed from the original bid proposal. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the records of a bidder used in contract negotiation under this section are not subject to public inspection until after the negotiated contract has been awarded or the negotiation process has been terminated. [2003 c.794 §106]
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