Q Does a district have a duty or obligation to investigate the underlying facts related to a contractor’s claim of an honest mistake and determine on whether the mistakes made are eligible for equitable relief?

A The district lacks the authority to permit a bid to be withdrawn in the absence of circumstances that would render it inequitable not to permit its withdrawal. Unless a mistake was honestly made, no right of withdrawal would appear. In determining whether to permit the withdrawal of a bid, the district has a duty to the public to ascertain whether a mistake affecting the amount of the bid had in fact been made. In order to do this, it is necessary for the district to be advised of the character of the claimed mistake so that the district might consider it in connection with the bid and the advertisement.The mere claim that a bidder has made a mistake or found an error in the bid neither gives the contractor the right to withdraw the bid nor imposes on the public authorities any duty to examine the bid in order to ascertain whether a mistake appears. To what extent the public entity deliberates or the factors it considers in making such determination is a matter left to the judgment of the public entity, subject to review by a court of competent jurisdiction. (Attorney General’s Opinion to Donovan, May 6, 2016)