5. Purchasing or bid evaluation committees
A committee appointed by a college’s purchasing director to consider proposals submitted by contractors was held to be subject to the Sunshine Law because its function was to “weed through the various proposals, to determine which were acceptable and to rank them accordingly.” Silver Express Company v. District Board of Lower Tribunal Trustees, 691 So. 2d 1099, 1100 (Fla. 3d DCA 1997). Accord Inf. Op. to Lewis, March 15, 1999 (panels established by state agency to create requests for proposals and evaluate vendor responses are subject to the Sunshine Law). And see Leach-Wells v. City of Bradenton, 734 So. 2d 1168, 1171 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999) (selection committee created by city council to evaluate proposals violated the Sunshine Law when the city clerk unilaterally ranked the proposals based on the committee members’ individual written evaluations; the court held that “the short-listing was formal action that was required to be taken at a public meeting”). Cf. s. 286.0113(2), F.S., providing an exemption from the Sunshine Law for meetings at which a negotiation with a vendor is conducted pursuant to s. 287.057(1), F.S.
In Port Everglades Authority v. International Longshoremen’s Association, Local 1922-1, 652 So. 2d 1169, 1170 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995), the court ruled that a board’s selection and negotiation committee violated the Sunshine Law when competing bidders were requested to excuse themselves from the committee meeting during presentations by competitors. The court found that the committee’s actions “amounted to a de facto exclusion of the competitors, especially since the ‘request’ was made by an official directly involved with the procurement process.” Cf. Pinellas County School Board v. Suncam, Inc., 829 So. 2d 989 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002) (school board violated the Sunshine Law when it refused to permit videotaping of a public meeting held to evaluate general contractor construction proposals).