Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Medical Construction Rosters Approved for University of Washington

The Washington State Legislature approved legislation that permits the University of Washington to pre-qualify contractors for construction rosters related to critical patient care or specialized medical research facilities (Medical Rosters).  

Pre-Qualification vs. Bidder Responsibility Criteria:  The intent of the new law is to permit the University of Washington to establish pre-qualification requirements for this highly specialized and sensitive work that contractors must meet to be placed on the roster.  The UW operates both the UW Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center. 

Prior to passage of the new law, the only tool available for ensuring that the low bidder was a responsible bidder was for the University to add supplemental bidder responsibility criteria, as authorized by RCW 39.04.350.  This can often be a time-consuming process with responsibility evaluated after bid opening. 

By essentially pre-qualifying contractors for the Medical Roster, the University of Washington will not have to establish separate supplemental bidder responsibility criteria on each separate project relating to medical facilities, thus saving time.

Modeled After Existing Laws:  Substitute Senate Bill 6355, which became effective on June 10, 2010, is modeled heavily after both the current Small Works Roster law authorized in RCW 39.04.155 and portions of the GC/CM law in RCW 39.10.360.  There are significant portions of each of these laws that are included in the new law, some word for word.

Key Features:   The new Medical Roster law, which adds a new section to chapter 28B.20 RCW, includes the following key features:
  • Dollar Threshold:  The roster may be used for projects equal to or less than $5 million.
  • Applicability:  The Medical Roster applies to "construction, renovation, remodeling, or alteration of improvements within a building that is used directly for critical patient care or highly specialized medical research."
  • Relationship with Small Works Roster:  The Medical Roster may be used in lieu of the provisions of the Small Works Roster program (RCW 39.04.155).
  • Single or Multiple Rosters:  A single Medical Roster may be created, or multiple rosters may be used based on different trade specialties or categories.
  • Advertisement:  The University of Washington must advertise annually announcing the Medical Roster to contractors.  The law specifies a number of subjects that must be addressed in the public solicitation, including the reasons for using the roster, a description of the contractor qualifications required to be placed on the roster, the form of contract to be used, the evaluation and appeal process, etc.  Contractors may be added at any time during the year.
  • Evaluation Criteria:  The University must establish an evaluation committee to evaluate the qualifications of contractors desiring to be placed on the roster.  Evaluation criteria must include at least the following:  a) Ability of a contractor's professional personnel; b) Contractor's past performance on similar projects, c) Contractor's ability to meet time and budget requirements, d) Contractor's ability to provide preconstruction services, e) Contractor's capacity to successfully complete the project; f) Contractor's approach to executing projects, g) Contractor's approach to safety and their safety history, h) Contractor's record of performance, integrity, judgment, and skills.
  • Quotation Procedure:  The University of Washington must establish a procedure to obtaining quotations from all contractors on the Medical Roster to ensure competitive process.
  • MWBE:  The University of Washington must make an effort to solicit proposals from certified minority and woman owned contractors.
  • Reporting:  Annually, beginning in September 2010, a university using the Medical Roster must provide a report to the Capital Projects Advisory Review Board on the usage of the roster.
  • Sunset:  The Medical Roster process for awarding such contracts terminates as of June 30, 2015.
Pre-Qualification:  The new law follows in the footsteps of existing statutes that permits certain types of government jurisdictions to pre-qualify contractors for specific work.  For example, Public Utility Districts must pre-qualify contractors for electrical work (RCW 54.04.085).

Subjective Process:  The Medical Roster law provides the University of Washington with significant latitude in selecting only qualified contractors for the roster, and requires that the evaluation criteria include highly subjective criteria relating to the integrity and judgment of the contractors.  These subjective criteria have caused significant concerns by contractors when used in supplemental bidder responsibility criteria.

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