Construction File:

BidCentral implements new e-bonding

When the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) introduced online bidding three years ago – in the form of the BidCentral platform – there was one element of the process anticipated to go through the most significant evolution: the protocol for the submission of bid bonds online. Or, as it has now commonly become known: e-bonding.

We knew there would be developments in digital signing and sealing of e-bonds which we would incorporate into the protocol.

With the advice of our legal counsel (Jenkins Marzban Logan), we began accepting uploaded bid bonds directly from Surety Representatives. These bonds were required to have a clear, legible seal and signature from the issuer of the bond, who had power of attorney from the Surety organization underwriting the bond.

The contractor’s signature of the bond was incorporated by their acknowledgement of the bond online by being able to view the bond and by attaching it to their bid. This was how – according to the BC Electronic Transmissions Act – the contractor could validate and sign the bond.

During this time, discussions continued between the construction industry and the Surety Association of Canada (SAC). It was agreed that this method was acceptable in BC as the parties had agreed that was how we would do business. However, there was a desire to use technology to move the industry to a higher level of security on issuing of bonds online – or on paper.

In support of this objective, SAC ultimately developed criteria usable to assess any e-bonding solutions. To date, three facilities have met the SAC criteria, which will meet this goal of reaching a higher level of digital security. These are Infinite Source Systems (PlanSource), Xenex Bonds and Mobile Bonds.

The BC Construction Association then decided that with these facilities having met SAC’s criteria, we could move to implement this new e-bonding protocol within the BidCentral online platform. Equipped with the legal analysis of the validity and enforceability of electronic bid bonds from Jenkins Marzban Logan*, the support of the local Surety industry and the construction industry, we are implementing a new bonding protocol.

Effective August 19, 2013, BidCentral Online Bidding for Subcontractors (BOBS) will require the parties to a bid bond contract to be to authenticated through an online process, and to digitally sign and seal bonds. We anticipate others using the BidCentral bidding application (such as owners accepting prime contractor bids online) will move to this new ebonding protocol shortly.

With millions of project dollars managed through BidCentral, meeting the highest standards of the Surety Association of Canada as well as the business needs of owners and contractors is vital.

This marks the launch of a fully-integrated online bonding protocol using industry-leading technology, and with it, the completion of Canada’s most advanced online bidding solution: the BC Construction Association’s BidCentral.