Are Evaluation Committee meetings for formal solicitations open to the public?
On June 2, 2011, Governor Scott signed HB 7223 into law. This new legislation amends Florida’s public records and sunshine laws by expanding “exemptions” applicable to bids, proposals, and replies to sealed competitive solicitations, and closes evaluation meetings from the public in certain instances.

Section 286.0113, Florida Statutes was amended to provide that meetings of persons appointed to evaluate bids or proposals and negotiate contracts shall be closed in certain circumstances. Specifically, portions of such meetings may now be closed to the public during oral presentations made by a vendor, or where a vendor answers questions. In other words, neither bidders nor the public will be permitted to sit in on meetings wherein their competitors are making presentations or discussing their bid or proposal with the committee members.

The portions of these meetings must still be recorded and are subject to disclosure at the time of an intended award decision or within 30 days of the bid or proposal opening, whichever is earlier. Portions of the meetings that do not involve presentations, questions and answers, or negotiation strategy or negotiation sessions are still open to the public and competing bidders, but the new law makes it more difficult to observe the entire decision making process until after the records become available for inspection and copying.

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1. Are vendors who have submitted sealed bids / proposals required to be present at the bid / proposal opening?
2. Will the information contained in the sealed bids / proposals be announced during the bid / proposal opening?
3. When will responses to formal solicitations be available for public access?
4. Are Evaluation Committee meetings for formal solicitations open to the public?