Public Contracts Law and Legal Definition

A public work is defined as any work constructed for public use, protection or enjoyment. The conditions under which the construction of public works may or must comply with government laws and regulations. Generally, a state may require that its own contracts and contracts of its political subdivisions be awarded only after the authorities have followed a prescribed procedure for competitive bidding on contracts exceeding a certain dollar amount, that the successful bidder give bonds conditioned on the performance of work and the payment of the bidder's laborers and suppliers of material, and, in some cases, that contractors observe certain regulations with respect to laborers employed in performance of the contract. Often, municipal corporations have similar requirements for contractors in municipal improvements. There are also many federal statutes and implementing regulations that authorize public works and contracts and prescribe generally formalities, requisites and procedures. Before a public contract may be entered into, there must be an appropriation of funds for the project and a certification by a proper official that the funds are available, and the site for construction of the public work must be designated and acquired.

Often, the contract is a very short instrument containing only the agreement, a description of the project, identification of the parties, the contract price, the method of payment of the contract and the time for performance, and incorporating by reference other documents such as the plans, drawings, specifications and general and specific contractual conditions. Other documents often incorporated in public contracts are the invitation for or notice to bidders, instructions to bidders, bid, bid bond and acceptance of award of contract.