from awarding the contract to any other builder. Cf. Hatalowich v. Redevelopment Authority of Monessen, 454 Pa. 481, 484-88, 312 A.2d 22 (1973).
Yet there is no de minimis exception with regard to irregularities which violate the fixed procedures for bidding. A good illustration of this principle is Harris v. Philadelphia, 283 Pa. 496, 129 A. 460 (1925). There, the defendant solicited bids for the construction of a subway line. The rules for submitting proposals were set by statute, ordinance, and published instructions.
Each builder was required to provide security in the form of a certified check amounting to five percent of the total offer. The plaintiff presented the lowest bid, but unfortunately enclosed a check slightly below the minimum amount. The error apparently sprang from a misinterpretation of the bid instructions. In light of this discrepancy, the defendant rejected the proposal and the parties went to court. The plaintiff contended "that the irregularity was, at most, a technical one" which could readily be cured with a supplemental check covering the shortfall. The complainant also pointed out that the sum already provided amounted to more than the difference between the lowest and second lowest bids, and therefore sufficiently insured the defendant against any injury that could occur due to the builder's failure to enter a final contract. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found this rationale unpersuasive and declared the bid invalid on the basis of the deviation. Id. at 500-09, 129 A. 460. See also McIntosh Road Materials Company v. Woolworth, 365 Pa. 190, 203-04, 74 A.2d 384 (1950); Conduit and Foundation Corporation v. City of Philadelphia, 41 Pa.Cmwlth. 641, 401 A.2d at 380 n.2.
In view of these authorities, the School District's claim must fail. The court wishes to emphasize that this decision is not an exaltation of form over substance. The doctrine mandating strict adherence to bid instructions supports a crucial policy of the Commonwealth. Laws that require competitive bidding for public projects seek to apportion awards fairly and economically. See, e.g., Lutz Appellate Printers, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 485 Pa. 559, 565-68, 403 A.2d 530 (1979); Louchheim v. Philadelphia, 218 Pa. at 102-04, 66 A. 1122. Mandatory compliance with statutory procedures and bid instructions serves this goal in two ways. Initially, clear-cut ground rules for competition guarantee that none of the contractors will gain an undue advantage through better information of the bid solicitor's operation. Conduit and Foundation Corporation v. City of Philadelphia, 41 Pa.Cmwlth. 641, 401 A.2d at 379-80. Second, the strict adherence principle lessens the possibility of fraud and favoritism. Lutz Appellate Printers, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 485 Pa. at 567, 403 A.2d 530; Harris v. Philadelphia, 283 Pa. at 503-04, 129 A. 460; Louchheim v. Philadelphia, 218 Pa. at 102-04, 66 A. 1122. In the opinion of the Pennsylvania judiciary, moreover, the appearance of propriety is so important that genuine deviations may not be tolerated even if all available evidence suggests that the parties acted in good faith. Accordingly, Travelers and Sarkisian must be granted summary judgment even if the District's transgression of the instructions was totally inadvertent. Lutz Appellate Printers, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 485 Pa. at 567-68, 403 A.2d 530; Louchheim v. Philadelphia, 218 Pa. at 102-04, 66 A. 1122; Travelers Indemnity Company v. Susquehanna County Commissioners, 17 Pa.Cmwlth. 209, 331 A.2d at 920.
IV. FINAL ISSUES
The plaintiff raises two final arguments. The first centers on the fact that Pennsylvania law does not consider a contract between a bidder and a School Board to be final until it is reduced to writing. Crouse, Inc. v. Braddock Borough School District, 341 Pa. 497, 499-501, 19 A.2d 843 (1941), Chilli v. McKeesport School District, 334 Pa. 581, 583-85, 6 A.2d 99 (1939). See also Construction, Inc. v. Rockwood Borough Municipal Authority, 326 F.2d 751, 752 (3d Cir. 1964). In the view of the District, this principle establishes that no additional steps in "awarding" the appointment were possible beyond those taken by the September 20th resolution, because any acceptance was tentative at that point. But nothing in Crouse or any other precedent relieved the complainant from the duty to adhere to the promulgated procedures. As previously quoted, Paragraph 20 of the instructions clearly states that no award would bind the District "until the contract documents, required bonds and required certification" were properly executed and returned. Thus, the plaintiff could have complied with both the bid rules and the Crouse holding.
Paragraph 20 also defeats the District's final argument. The Legislature of Pennsylvania has required that public bodies make sure that all prime contractors furnish adequate performance and payment bond coverage "before jobs are awarded." 8 P.S. § 193(a). The complainant suggests that this statute prohibited the full-fledged acceptance described in Paragraph 20. This contention is incorrect. Paragraph 20 clearly provides that no award would be binding until the selected builder secured the requisite bonding. Again, the District could have followed the bid instructions without transgressing any law of the Commonwealth.