Saturday, May 31, 2008

New Officers for NW Chapter of Design Build Institute

At their Annual Meeting held on May 6, 2008, the members of the Northwest Region of the Design Build Institute elected new officers, effective on July 1, 2008.

The following officers will serve for a two year term:

Training on FEMA Funding for Emergency Contracts

The Washington State Emergency Management Division will be conducting training for public agencies and private non-profits on federal procurement regulations and FEMA funding. The training will provide information on the procurement procedures required to maintain eligibility for FEMA funding for work done as a result of a federally declared major disaster or emergency.

Topics will include:

  • Public Assistance Program
  • Cost reimbursement
  • Emergency contracting procedures
  • Federal procurement regulations
  • FEMA eligible contracts
  • Direct administrative costs

When and Where: various dates and locations including:

  • June 11, 2008, Chehalis
  • June 11, 2008, Kelso
  • June 12, 2008, Camp Murray
  • June 12, 2008, Bremerton
  • June 16, 2008, Renton
  • June 16, 2008, Everett
  • June 17, 2008, Mount Vernon
  • June 18, 2008 East Wenatchee
  • June 19, 2008, Shelton
  • June 20, 2008, Montesano

For more information, call (253) 512-7434. Registration form is available online by clicking here.

No charge.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Specification Development and Review

Do you have standard instructions for your architects and engineers about how to development specifications for public works construction projects for your agency? What types of issues should project managers be looking at when reviewing specifications developed by a designer?

At the University of Washington, I recently wrote guidelines to help with these issues. The document, entitled “Specification Development and Review Guidelines” is available online at the University’s Capital Projects Office website.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Payment and Performance Bonds

Washington State law (RCW 39.08) requires that public agencies obtain a payment and performance bond for all public works construction projects.

Some agencies require a combination bond that has protection for both payment (the contractor will pay all subcontractors, suppliers, and workers) and performance (the contractor will faithfully perform and execute the work), while other agencies require separate bonds.

In either event, the amount of the bond is normally for 100% of the contract award amount. By obtaining a separate payment bond and a separate performance bond, each in the amount of 100% of the contract award amount, the agency actually ends up with more financial protection – 100% for each, while a combination bond is limited to 100%. It is my understanding that obtaining separate bonds for payment and performance normally does not cost the contractor more, but the agency gets additional protection.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Free Workshop on Early Utility Coordination

Free Workshop on Early Utility Coordination

Sponsored by: BMS Engineering Services, LLP (John Medina)

When: May 28, 2008, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (free lunch provided)

Where: Utility Contractors Association of Washington, 635 Andover Park West, Suite 101, Seattle

Reserve a seat by calling (425) 939-7383 or e-mailing

Space is limited.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Design Build Training

The Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) will be sponsoring a class on "Design Build Contracts and Risk Management" in Seattle on June 13, 2008.

It will be taught by Robynne Parkinson, the incoming president of the Northwest Region chapter of DBIA. Robynne's is a local attorney with significant Design Build experience. For more information on her background, visit the website of Law Offices of Robynne Thaxton Parkinson, PLLC.

For more information on the training call 1-866-692-1001. I couldn't find updated information on the website of DBIA or the Northwest Region of DBIA.

Leadership Skills Training

Training on Leadership Skills

Sponsored by: APWA's Northwest Public Works Institute

When: June 17-20, 2008, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Where: Holiday Inn, 1801 12th Ave NW, Issaquah

Registration Fee (includes lunches and course materials): $480.00

For more information and to register, visit APWA’s website.

Instructors include: John Ostrowski (JOMC), Pete Butkus (Deputy City Manager, Smmamish), Brian Ziegler (Public Works Director, Pierce County, Richard Warren (Retired Public Works Consultant).

Course Description: This class consists of lecture, case studies and exercises covering the following topics:

  • Overview of the Public Works Process
  • Career Self Assessment
  • People Skills and Personalities
  • Council Relations
  • Citizen Relations
  • Creativity
  • Employee Relations
  • Dealing with Regulatory Agencies
  • Dealing with the Media
  • Performance Management
  • Asset Management
  • Financial Management
  • Understanding Business
  • Planning Skills
  • Project Management
  • Managing Consultants
  • Excellence in Public Works Panel

Bidder Responsibility – Web Conference Training

Training on Bidder Responsibility Criteria: Expanded Tools for Public Entities

Presenters: Mike Purdy (University of Washington), Arnold Hedeen (Attorney)

When: June 25, 2008, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Where: Your office. This is a web conference with the training provided online through your computer and your telephone connection.

Cost: $129 for a single connection. Allows an unlimited number of participants.

For more information and to register, visit this website.

Content: Learn about the new state legislation effective July 22, 2007 that:

1. Establishes mandatory bidder responsibility criteria on public works projects

2. Permits establishment of supplemental bidder responsibility criteria on public works projects

3. Establishes subcontractor responsibility criteria

Friday, May 16, 2008

Protests and Disputes Training

Protests and Disputes: What's a Buyer To Do?

Sponsored by: Washington State Chapter of NIGP (National Institute of Governmental Purchasing)

When: Thursday, June 26, 2008, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where: Olympia, WA

Instructor: Robin Rickard, CPPO

For more information or to register, visit NIGP's website.

Course Outline:

Understand what protest is.
Learn to distinguish between kinds of protests
Learn how to reduce the potential for protest.
Learn how to effectively "debrief" with "non-award" vendors.
Learn what to do if you receive protest.
Learn how to formally respond to protest.
Learn to eliminate the emotion related to protest.
Review and discuss some case studies of protests.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Attorney General Legal Opinions

The Washington State Attorney General’s Office maintains online an index and complete text of all of their formal legal opinions from 1949 to the present. You can search by year, by topic, or by entering in your own search variables. The website notes that “while these formal legal opinions are not binding in any way, they have historically been given ‘great respect’ and ‘great weight’ by the courts.”

Click here to access the legal opinions of the Attorney General’s Office.

Monday, May 12, 2008

In Ethics, Appearances are Important

On May 7, 2008, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission charged Seattle City Councilmember Richard McIver with violating the City’s conflict of interest laws. McIver awarded a $37,000 consultant contract to Griffin Hill & Associates, the same firm that a good friend of his, Joann Francis, works for. For at least a decade, McIver has been a guest of Francis and her husband at their Virgin Islands condominium, including in December 2006. The $37,000 contract that was subsequently amended to $42,000 was awarded shortly after McIver’s 2006 stay at the Francis’ condominium.

Whether McIver actually violated the City’s ethics laws will be determined based on facts. The critical thing to take away from this situation is that, regardless of the facts in McIver’s case, elected officials and contracting and procurement officials, in particular, have an obligation to ensure that their actions do not create even the appearance of a conflict of interest. As stewards of the public’s trust and confidence, it is important to think twice about actions that may appear to a reasonable person as creating a potential conflict of interest.

More information about the charges against McIver may be found in the Seattle Times and on the website of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) that was cited in the charges against McIver provides that “No current City officer or employee shall…engage or have engaged in any transaction or activity, which is, or would to a reasonable person appear to be, in conflict with or incompatible with the proper discharge of official duties, or which impairs, or would to a reasonable person appear to impair, the officer's or employee's independence of judgment or action in the performance of official duties and fail to disqualify him or herself from official action in those instances where the conflict occurs.”

Monday, May 5, 2008

Prevailing Wage Survey

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) announced that it is conducting a Wage-and-Hour Survey for several classifications of construction workers. The information collected from the Wage-and-Hour Survey will be used to establish prevailing wage rates to be paid to workers on public works jobs governed by Chapter 39.12 RCW. The current survey affects only the following six trades:

1. Certified Asbestos Abatement Workers
2. Fence Erectors and Fence Laborers
3. Flaggers
4. Hod Carriers, Mason Tenders and Mortarmen
5. Laborers in Utilities Construction
6. Laborers (includes Cleanup Laborers and Carpenter Tenders)

You can visit the survey web page to print out blank survey forms, instructions, or a to view a sample survey. You can also view the survey schedule to see when other trades will be surveyed.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Priority of Claims against Retainage

What if you have more claims filed against the retainage you are withholding on a public works construction project than than the amount of retainage you have on hand?

By definition, retainage, under RCW 60.28, is a trust fund for the protection of the Washington State Department of Revenue and subcontractors, suppliers, and workers. Although it is not explicitly described in state law, if you read RCW 60.28 carefully, you'll find that the following is the priority order of claimants:
    1. Workers for payment of prevailing wages
    2. State Department of Revenue for unpaid taxes on the project
    3. Subcontractors, suppliers, and materialmen
    4. Other taxes due (including the Department of Revenue for unpaid taxes on other projects
    5. The Owner

There are a host of other issues to consider as well in sorting through how to handle claims, including whether the claim is a "live" claim (filed and renewed within prescribed time frames), whether a "pre-claim" notice was filed by suppliers, and whether there are conflicting claims from parties in any of the categories above (i.e., multiple claims for other taxes due), etc.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Types of Businesses

The legal structure of a business can come in many different forms. We've all heard of a sole proprietorship (or single owner), a partnership, and a corporation. But there are also other types of business structures that accomplish different purposes, primarily with respect to the personal liability or financial risk to the owners and how the entity is managed. These other types of business structures include:

  • Limited Partnership
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
The Washington State Department of Licensing has a helpful website with brief definitions of each of these types of businesses.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Magazine Online for APWA WA State Chapter

The Washington State Chapter of APWA (American Public Works Association) publishes their magazine for public works professionals online.

The Spring 2008 edition is available.