All contracts for construction work and purchases of materials shall be awarded on the basis of competitive bids. Before construction is started on any project, the corporation shall advertise for sealed bids once each week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the project or undertaking is to be located and in such other publications as it may deem advisable. Such notices shall state that plans and specifications for the project are on file in the office of the corporation and the time and place for receiving and opening bids. All bids shall be opened publicly at the advertised time and place.
The contract shall be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder complying with the conditions of the invitations for bids unless the bid is found by the corporation to be unreasonable or it is found not to the best interests of the corporation to accept it. The bidder to whom the award is made shall be notified by telegram or letter at the earliest possible date. Should the successful bidder fail or refuse to sign the contract or make bond, the corporation may award the contract to the second lowest responsible bidder; and, upon the failure or refusal of the second lowest bidder to sign the contract or make bond, the corporation may award the contract to the third lowest responsible bidder.
If no bids are received at the time stated in the advertisement for bids or if the corporation finds that bids received are unreasonable and not to its best interest, the corporation may advertise for and seek other competitive bids, or it may direct that the work shall be done by negotiated contract under its direction and control. On any construction project done by negotiated contract, the corporation shall file plans and specifications and an itemized estimate of cost with the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts. Upon completion of the project by the corporation, the final total cost together with an itemized list of cost of any and all changes made in the original plans shall be submitted to the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts for its permanent record. This section shall not apply to routine maintenance or repair jobs done by maintenance men in the regular employ of the corporation.