Architect's Role in the Bidding Process
Per the AIA B101, the architect supplies certain basic services. Bidding and negotiation are two of those services.
During bidding and negotiation, it is important to remember that the architect is not the one who is responsible for contracting with a contractor for building a project-that is the owner's responsibility. The architect simply assists the owner in the process.
An owner is not expected to be well versed in the process of construction, as well as in bidding and negotiating. Owners are typically not up to date on pricing and the like because they are not as exposed to it, which is why the architect assists them in the process.
The architect assists in issuing documents for bid, soliciting bids, holding pre-bid conferences, providing clarifications, and so on.
Through all of these services, it is important to have a mindset of fairness. In conducting the process of bidding and negotiating, the architect should be fair to all parties and all prospective contractors regardless of their relationship and/or prior work history.
If one prospective contractor asks a question (usually through a request for information, or RFI), that question should be answered with a reply to all prospective contractors (without identifying who raised the question). If there is an approved substitution request, that should be circulated to all prospective contractors through the issuance of addenda.
While the bids received back from prospective contractors may not be equal, it is important that each bidder is treated equally during the bidding process. It not only makes for a fairer process, but it keeps liability at bay for the owner.