Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Multiple Violations of Bid Laws by Fire District

The Ferry/Okanogan County (WA) Fire Protection District No. 13 was the subject of a recent audit by the Washington State Auditor's Office.  

The audit finding noted multiple areas where the Fire District was out of compliance with basic public works bidding requirements on the construction of a new fire hall, including the following:
  • Retainage:  Withheld 10% retainage from the contractor, instead of the 5% maximum permitted by RCW 60.28.011.
  • Retainage Release:  Released retainage to the contractor without obtaining approval from the State Department of Revenue that taxes had been paid, as required by RCW 60.28.060.
  • Change Orders:  Permitted the contractor to complete work on six change orders before the change orders were approved by the District's board.
  • Consultant Selection:  Selected a local contractor to provide "architectural and construction oversight" but did not comply with selection procedures of chapter 39.80 RCW, or actually enter into a contract.  If I understand the facts correctly, I don't think the Fire District was required to comply with the consultant selection procedures of chapter 39.80 RCW.  This law only applies when a public agency selects a firm to perform work that must be performed by licensed or registered architects, engineers, landscape architects, or land surveyors.  Providing construction oversight is not solely the purview of architects, and in fact, the Fire District didn't hire an architect, but a local contractor.  The fact that the District failed to execute a contract for the work is a problem.
Small Works Roster:  In addition, the District did not advertise annually for the district's Small Works Roster, nor post a list of contracts awarded annually under the Small Works Roster, as required by RCW 39.04.200.

Training Needed for District:  The Fire District did not provide a response to the audit findings.  The auditor noted that neither the District staff or Board members had adequate knowledge of state bidding laws, and recommended the District obtain training so they could comply with the requirements.

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