Thursday, September 30, 2010

Selecting Subcontractors on GC/CM Projects

In Washington State, there is a spectrum of tools available for selecting subcontractors on a General Contractors/Construction Managers (GC/CM) public works project that impacts the potential quality and experience of the subcontractors.  

Chapter 39.10 RCW outlines GC/CM as an alternative public works contracting delivery method that is available for public agencies to use.
  • Low Responsible Bid:  The traditional method for selecting subcontractors on a GC/CM project is for the GC/CM to publicly and competitively bid the various subcontract packages and award each package to the low responsible bidder submitting a responsive bid after negotiation of the Maximum Allowable Construction Cost (MACC) between the GC/CM and public agency.  Use of "specific objective criteria" must be used by the GC/CM and public agency to determine subcontractor responsibility (RCW 39.10.380 (2))
  • Early Subcontract Bidding:  RCW 39.10.370 (2) and (3) outlines two variants of this low bid process that permit early bidding of some subcontract bid packages before the Maximum Allowable Construction Cost (MACC) has been negotiated between the GC/CM and public agency.
  • Pre-Qualification of Subcontractors:  Rather than simply rely on awarding to the low subcontract bidder, another tool from RCW 39.10.400 permits the GC/CM and public agency to essentially pre-qualify what subcontractors may submit bids.  This process requires a public hearing to obtain input on the desirability of establishing "subcontractor eligibility" criteria before issuing a Request for Qualifications and evaluating responses.  Pre-qualified subcontractors may then submit bids and the subcontract package is awarded to the bidder with the lowest responsive bid.
  • Selection of Mechanical and Electrical Subcontractors Through RFP Process:  RCW 39.10.385 became effective on June 10, 2010.  It permits the selection of the Mechanical and Electrical subcontractors through a process very similar to the process used by the public agency in selecting the GC/CM (qualifications and bidding on some prices, with the Maximum Allowable Subcontract Cost negotiated between the subcontractor and GC/CM).  I have written a summary outline of this new process which is available on my website.
If you have any questions about any of these processes or would like GC/CM training for your agency or company, please contact me.

Training: Introduction to Public Procurement

Introduction to Public Procurement

When:  November 8-10, 2010

Where:  Bellevue, Washington (City Hall)

Instructor:  Robin Rickard

  • Prices below are discounted price for early registration)
  • $570 (NIGP Chapter and National Member)
  • $570 (NIGP National Member)
  • $745 (NIGP Chapter Only Member)
  • $745 (Non-NIGP National Members)
Description:  The work of public procurement is no longer a clerical function performed independently by various people throughout different agencies or departments within a government entity.  This class provides an overview of the ever-changing profession by identifying fundamental concepts that will affect procurement in the public sector.
More Information and Registration, click here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Are You Establishing an Estimate for Your Public Works Projects?

Are you establishing an estimate for your public works projects?  It's not only a good practice, but required for public agencies in the State of Washington (RCW 39.04.020), and undoubtedly in other states as well.

Why is development of an estimate a good practice and/or required?  Because most types of government agencies have different thresholds that impact the type of bidding process to be used, it is important to have an estimate to help choose the appropriate selection process.  In addition, if your project includes federal funding, many federal agencies require state and local agencies receiving federal money to develop an independent cost estimate prior to solicitation.

Do you have to publish your estimate for bidders?  Check your state and local laws to see what is required.  In Washington State, the estimate on a public works project is not required to be published (unless specific laws or policies related to your agency require it).  
  • Why Publish the Estimate?  Some public agencies publish the estimate, or a range of the estimate, in their advertisement for bids, to give bidders a sense of whether the project fits within the size of projects they typically perform. Thus, the estimate serves as an important marketing tool.
  • Why Not Publish the Estimate?  Other agencies do not publish the estimate in the advertisement for bids out of concerns that bidders will bid up to that amount, even if the cost of the work is less.  However, it seems to me in this highly competitive construction market that bidders will develop and submit very competitive bids, often even reducing their profit to nothing just in order to obtain the project and keep their workers busy. 
Is the estimate subject to public records disclosure?  In Washington State, even if you do not publish the estimate in your advertisement for bids, the estimate must be disclosed if your agency receives a public records request.  Check your state and local laws to determine whether the estimate is subject to disclosure upon request.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Happens If You Get an Audit Finding?

Audits are a part of everyday life for those managing government contracting and purchasing.  State and local governments, as well as the federal government, have auditors that audit to ensure that public agencies are complying with various laws, regulations, internal agency policies and procedures, and grant provisions.

What are some of the impacts of an audit finding?
  • Negative Publicity:  Depending on the nature of the finding, it may be front page news.  As such, it casts your agency in a negative light from the public's perspective, and becomes a political issue as elected officials and administrators attempt to tighten up your agency's practices to prevent future problems.
  • Personnel Actions:  Again, depending on the nature of the finding, it may result in agency employees being subject to disciplinary action, including personnel warnings, suspension without pay, and even termination.
  • Loss of Grant Funding:  Some applications for grants will require agencies to disclose any audit findings, and such findings may impact a decision for an award of a grant.  Granting agencies want to make sure that those they are awarding grants to are managed properly.
  • Procedural Changes:  Some audit findings are the result of an oversight that indicates a lack of internal controls to ensure that proper procedures are followed.  Other audit findings occur because an agency doesn't have policies and procedures in a particular area.  In either event, an audit finding will result in changes to how an agency operates to ensure tighter controls, and to prevent future findings.
  • Follow-up Scrutiny:  An agency that has received an audit finding may be scrutinized more closely in future years by the auditor to ensure the agency has corrected the problems.  In Washington State, an audit finding may also lead to a Performance Audit of part of the agency's operations.  
Practical Tips:  Know what laws, regulations, internal policies and procedures, and grant provisions apply to the contracting and procurement of goods and services for your agency.  Obtain necessary training of your agency personnel.  Establish clear checks and balances to ensure compliance. 

Lean Construction Dinner Meeting

Concrete Evidence that the Lean Approach Saves Time and Money

When:  Tuesday, October 5, 2010 (5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)

Where:  Seattle, Washington (222 Yale Avenue North, 2nd Floor, North Conference Room)

Speaker:  David MacNeel, Baker Concrete

Sponsored by:  Lean Construction Institute, Cascadia Chapter

More Information and Registration: Click here.

Registration Deadline:  September 30, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bid Protest on Wisconsin City's Alternate Bid

The second low bidder on a City of Burlington, Wisconsin project to construct a parking garage downtown has filed a bid protest with the City, claiming the City should have awarded the project to them with an alternate bid price that was lower than the base bid price awarded to another firm.

Alternate Bid Lower Than Base Bid:  Metro Parking Structures, LLC submitted a bid for an alternate bid (using pre-existing materials versus new materials in the base bid) for $2.044 million.  The City chose not to exercise the alternate bid using pre-existing materials and thus awarded the project to Riley Construction for a base bid amount of $2.09 million.  Metro's bid for the base bid was $2.31 million.  Riley Construction has already begun work on the project.

City's Action:  The City Council met in closed session on September 21, 2010 but made no decision on the bid protest.  Based on the information I have on this project, it appears the City was well within their rights to award to Riley Construction as the low bidder on the base bid.

Practical Tip:  When awarding a contract based on a bid that includes alternate bids, a public agency should decide on the merits of the construction option whether it intends to exercise the alternate or only award the base bid.  The determination of the low bidder should be based on comparing the low base bid prices of all bidders, or the low bid alternate prices of all bidders, depending on which option is selected.  For a more detailed discussion of this issue, visit my blog posting for August 26, 2009.

Pierce County (WA) Purchasing Forum

Pierce County, Washington is sponsoring a free Purchasing Forum on Friday, October 1, 2010 from 8:00 a.m. to noon.
  • Learn first-hand how to register and compete for contracts with select federal and state government agencies, schools, and public entities in Pierce County.
  • Ask questions of a panel of government purchasing agents.
  • Meet one-on-one with purchasing agents
  • Meet and interact with Pierce County business owners and managers

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Hampshire Considers In-State Bidding Preference

A task force of the New Hampshire legislature is examining whether the state should adopt bidding preferences for New Hampshire firms competing against out-of-state firms on state contracts. The task force will report their recommendations on December 1, 2010.

Low Bid:  Current New Hampshire law calls for officials to award contracts based only on the lowest price. 

Reciprocal Laws May Hurt NH Firms:  Some New Hampshire officials have expressed concerns about the state adopting an in-state preference because of the negative impact it may have on New Hampshire firms bidding in other states.  Most states have adopted a reciprocal preference law that calls for adding to an out-of-state firm's bid a percentage equal to the amount of the preference that firm would receive in its own state.  For a list of states with reciprocal preference laws, visit the website of the Oregon State Procurement Office.

Tie-Bid Preference Approved:  As a step toward approving in-state preference, New Hampshire requires, as of September 18, 2010, that a contract to be awarded to an in-state firm for certain contracts if the price is the same as that offered by an out-of-state firm.  Ties in bids, however, do not occur very frequently.

To read an article about the subject from the Union Leader, click here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Public Works Contract Training

Working with the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) who is under a contract with the Washington State Department of Transportation, I provided training all day on Thursday, September 23, 2010 to about 25 public works and contracting professionals in Washington State.  The training was held in Camas, Washington.

Here's an outline of the topics I covered:

Risk Management Tools: Insurance, Bonds, and Retainage
  • Types of Insurance
  • Occurrence vs. Claims Made
  • Insurance Documentation and Endorsements
  • Bid Bonds
  • Payment and Performance Bonds
  • Contractor's Registration Bond
  • Retainage Bonds
  • Purpose of Retainage
  • Retainage and Sales Tax
  • Options for Managing Retainage
Bidder Responsibility and Bid Responsiveness
  • What is Bidder Responsibility?
  • The Difference Between Responsibility and Responsiveness
  • Bidder Responsibility Before 2007
  • Statute Changes to Bidder Responsibility in 2007
  • Mandatory Bidder Responsibility Criteria
  • Subcontractor Responsibility Criteria
  • Supplemental Bidder Responsibility Criteria
  • What Are the Interests of Stakeholders?
  • Is Bidder Responsibility Working?
  • Abuses of Supplemental Bidder Responsibility Criteria
  • The Future of Bidder Responsibility
  • Principles of Bid Responsiveness
  • 9 Bid Responsiveness Issues
Bidding and Contract Documents:
  • 2 Dozen Things to Remember
Construction Change Orders:
  • 7 Tools to Prevent Change Orders
  • 4 Elements of Change Orders
  • Authorization of Change Orders
  • Advantages of Work by Change Order
  • Reasons for Change Orders
  • Appropriate Uses of Change Orders
  • What is a Cardinal Change?
  • Evaluation of Change Order Requests
  • 3 Methods for Negotiating Change Order Prices
Public Works Contract Close-out: Claims Against Retainage and Bond:
  • Completion Date Terminology
  • Notification to State Agencies and the Public
  • Filing, Renewing, and Releasing Claims
  • Pre-Claim Notices for Suppliers
  • Foreclosure and Payment
  • When to Release Retainage
  • Issues and Drafting Problems with SHB 1555 (2009 Legislation)
  • Preventing Payment Disputes
Please contact me if you would like to discuss training on these or other subjects.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

3 Agencies Seek Approval to Use GC/CM

The State of Washington's Project Review Committee (PRC) will consider applications from three public agencies to use the General Contractor/Construction Manager (GC/CM) project delivery method authorized in chapter 39.10 RCW on the following three projects (click title to read the application to the PRC):
The PRC will listen to presentations and ask questions of the three applicants at their September 23, 2010 meeting. 

In addition, at the meeting, the PRC will consider the applications of the following agencies for re-certification to use the alternative delivery methods as noted:
  • Washington State University (GC/CM)
  • Department of General Administration (GC/CM and Design-Build)
  • City of Seattle (GC/CM)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Are Your Instructions to Bidders Clear?

The "Instructions to Bidders" document in public works bidding specifications is an important tool to guide the bidding process and to prevent unnecessary bid protests or rejection of bids as non-responsive. 

In writing your Instructions to Bidders, don't impose more requirements on the bidders in the submission of their bids than is necessary.  For example, it's a good practice to limit what you require bidders to submit with their bid to the Bid Form and bid guaranty, plus any other documents that may be required by law or by a funding source or the terms of a grant.

Let's take a look at the following sentence from one agency's Instructions to Bidders and identify some of the problems with it:
"Improperly completed information, irregularities in security deposit, may be cause not to open the Bid Form envelope and declare the bid invalid or informal."
Here are some of the issues I see with this requirement:
  • Whether the bid contains improperly completed information or irregularities in the security deposit (more generally known as a bid deposit or bid guaranty) won't be known until after you open the sealed bid envelope.  As written, it sets up an impossible situation.
  • Bids are not declared "informal."  Immaterial irregularities in a bid may be waived by a public agency as an informality.  Thus, the more accurate language is not to discuss the bid being invalid or informal, but whether any irregularity is material or immaterial and whether the bid is responsive or non-responsive.  Material irregularities (those that give a competitive advantage or benefit to one bidder not enjoyed by other bidders) must be rejected as non-responsive.
  • The sentence actually contains a double negative that requires the agency to not declare irregularities as non-responsive.  Here's how it reads:  "Improperly completed information, irregularities in security deposit, may be cause not to...declare the bid invalid or informal."  That's certainly an unintended consequence of less than clear and careful drafting of the sentence.
Review your Instructions to Bidders.  Are they clear?  Do they address all the necessary subjects?  Do they protect your agency in the event of irregularities in bids?  Do they help provide you with tools for managing potential bid protests?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Evaluating Price as a Criterion in RFPs

One of the distinguishing features of using a Request for Proposals (RFP) as a selection tool is that the evaluation criteria include price, qualifications/experience, and the proposer's approach to the project.  This is different from a bid, where selection is based just on the price.
Spectrum of Evaluation Methods:  There are three basic models that are often used in assigning points to the price component of a proposal:
  • Subjective Evaluation:  Under this model, evaluators of the proposals assign points to the price component based on their subjective assessment.  This may result in different evaluators assigning different points.  For example, a proposal with the second lowest price may receive 25 points (out of 30 points possible) from one evaluator, and only 20 points from another evaluator.  This subjective method opens the public agency up for criticism and possible protests because of the subjective nature of the scoring.
  • Pre-Determined Points Based on Percentage From the Low Price:  Under this model, the low price would receive all of the points possible for price.  Any proposal price within certain percentages of the low price would receive a pre-determined number of points less than the total possible.  A disadvantage of this approach is that otherwise very qualified firms may end up receiving very few or no points, especially if the low proposer has submitted an extremely low price.  The following chart illustrates how this approach works:
  • Points for Price Based on Percentage:  Under this model, which is, I think, the most equitable and objective one, a proposer's score for their price is assigned based on the percentage difference the price is from the low price.  Thus, to use a simple illustration, if the low price is 50% lower than the second low price, the second low price would be assigned 50% of the total points possible for the price component of the evaluation criteria.  The following chart illustrates this method:
I am interested in your comments on these methods, or any others that you may use, and what your experience has been with these methods of assigning points to the price component of proposals under an RFP process.  Please contact me with your comments.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    The ABCs of IFBs, ITBs, RFPs, RFQs, and RFIs

    It's a clever title for a blog entry, but I can't take credit for it.  It comes from Eileen R. Youens, who is Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government at the University of North Carolina School of Government.  Eileen is one of the most articulate and clear thinkers when it come to government procurement and contracting.   

    She recently wrote a blog entry on the NC Local Government Law Blog entitled "The ABCs of IFBs, ITBs, RFPs, RFQs, and RFIs."  While much of her blog entry focuses on North Carolina state law and how it impacts public agencies in that state, she does a great job of laying out the distinctions between these different documents.

    She writes as follows:
    What's the difference between an IFB, and RFP, and an RFQ, and what are they anyway?  As I'll explain in more detail in this post, what name you give a solicitation document - the document you use to solicit bids or proposals - is not as important as the process you use to award the contract.

    There are four main types of solicitation documents: (1) those used for bidding, where price is the primary factor; (2) those used to request proposals focusing on factors other than price; (3) those used to ask for someone's qualifications; and (4) those used to gather information from potential bidders or proposers before starting the bid or proposal process.
    I encourage you to read her blog entry on the subject.  Regardless of what state you are in, it gives a clear perspective on generally when certain types of solicitation documents are appropriate.  Make sure you check your own state and local laws, as well as federal requirements if your project is funded with federal funds, to understand when it is appropriate to use different solicitation tools, and what the dollar threshold levels are.

    Design-Build Owners Forum in Seattle

    The Northwest Region of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) is sponsoring an Owners Forum on Design-Build.

    When:  Wednesday, September 22, 2010 (8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)

    Where: Doubletree Arctic Club Hotel - Dome Room (700 Third Avenue, Seattle, Washington)

    Key Speakers:
    • Owner ($50)
    • DBIA Member Practitioner ($195)
    • DBIA Non-Member Practitioner ($295)
    Information and Registration:  Click here

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Webinar: Do I Have to Take the Low Bid?

    Webinar:  Do I Have to Take the Low Bid?  Tools for Obtaining Qualified Contractors

    When:  October 19, 2010 (10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time)

    Instructor:  Mike Purdy

    Sponsored by:  NIGP (National Institute of Governmental Purchasing)

    • $75 for NIGP members
    • $105 for non-NIGP members
    More Information and Registration:  Visit NIGP's website

    Pressure in Florida on Holocaust Involvement of High-Speed Rail Firm

    Florida's plans to construct a $2.6 billion high-speed rail project connecting Tampa and Orlando has taken an interesting twist.  One of the few firms internationally with the experience to build such a project is the rail firm owned by the French government.  

    During World War II, the SNCF firm was involved in transporting prisoners to concentration camps, prompting some survivors and relatives of Holocaust victims to put pressure on the Florida legislature.  They want SNCF to apologize for its role in the war, make records available, and make reparations.  Click here to read a news article with more details.

    In California, which is also working on a high-speed rail system, the legislature recently approved a bill that would require firms bidding on the work to disclose any involvement in World War II transportation of people to concentration camps.  Click here to read my previous blog entry on the subject.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Off-Site Prefabrication Bill Codified Into State Law

    Engrossed House Bill 2805, which was approved by the Washington State Legislature in the spring of 2010, and is effective for contracts entered into on September 1, 2010 or later, has been codified into the Revised Code of Washington as RCW 39.04.370.

    To read more information on this new law and its impact on public agencies, contractors, and subcontractor, visit my previous blog entries on the subject:
    • July 27, 2010 - Contract language available from State General Administration Department
    The Department of Labor and Industries has revised their Questions and Answers document to correctly reflect that "local transportation public works projects" are exempt from the new law instead of how the first version of their Q&A characterized the exemption ("local transportation agencies").

      2 Speeches in Vancouver, Washington

      I delivered two training speeches in Vancouver, Washington on Wednesday, September 15, 2010 as part of the 2010 Annual Conference of the Washington Finance Officers Association (WFOA).
      • When Bad Things Happen to Good Contracts:  Bid Protests, Claims of Error, and Scandals
      • Public Works Contract Close-out: Bonding, Retainage, and Claims
      I also offer the Public Works Close-out material as a full day training session.  Please contact me if you are interested in me providing any of this training for your agency or would like more information.

      Design-Build Owners Forum in Seattle

      The Northwest Region of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) is sponsoring an Owners Forum on Design-Build.

      When:  Wednesday, September 22, 2010 (8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)

      Where: Doubletree Arctic Club Hotel - Dome Room (700 Third Avenue, Seattle, Washington)

      Key Speakers:
      • Owner ($50)
      • DBIA Member Practitioner ($195)
      • DBIA Non-Member Practitioner ($295)
      Information and Registration:  Click here

      Tuesday, September 14, 2010

      Breaking a 3-Way Tie in Bids

      A county recently solicited bids for the removal of one tree and grinding the stump on-site. They received three bids, all for the exact same price of $350.  A further complicating factor is that one of the bidders is related to a county commissioner and another bidder is related to a county employee.

      What are the county's options for breaking the tie?

      Given the family relationships between two of the bidders and county personnel, it is very important to manage the selection of the bidder carefully in order to avoid either the appearance or the reality of the decision being made because of the family connections.

      There are four general options that I can think of for breaking the tie:
      1. Select based on chance.  Often when two bidders are tied, the agency will flip a coin.  That obviously doesn't work with three tied bidders, but the county could draw straws and the firm pulling the longest (or shortest) straw would get the contract.
      2. Ask the three bidders to submit revised bids.  Establish a deadline for the three bidders and ask them to submit a new bid.  They would have the choice of keeping the same price, lowering their price, or increasing it. 
      3. Re-bid the project.  Reject all bids and re-solicit from a wide range of bidders.  
      4. Select based on qualifications: This could include the safety record of the bidders, their experience in performing similar work, or the satisfaction with previous customers.  The downside of this approach is that it is much more subjective, and since one of the bidders is related to a county commissioner and one is related to a county employee, this approach doesn't necessarily promote a sense of transparency related to the bidding process.
      An agency faced with a decision like this would also need to look at applicable state and local laws, and if the project was federally funded, by any federal requirements.

      Training on Purchasing, Bidding & Contract Management for Local Agencies

      I conducted an all day training session on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 in Vancouver, Washington as part of the 2010 Annual Conference of the Washington Finance Officers Association (WFOA).  

      The subject of the training was Purchasing, Bidding and Contract Management for Local Agencies.

      The following is an abbreviated outline of the seven hour training program:
      • Types of Contracts and Solicitations
      • Purchased Goods and Services
      • Architectural and Engineering Services
      • Public Works Contracting (Bidding, Award, Contract Execution, Construction, Close-out)
      If you would like a copy of the detailed outline of the class, or if you'd like to discuss me providing this training for your agency, please contact me.

      Monday, September 13, 2010

      Training: Spider Web of Federal and State Funding Process

      The Spider Web of  Federal and State Funding Process

      When:  Wednesday, September 22, 2010 (4:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.)

      Where:  Rock Salt Restaurant (1232 Westlake Ave. N., Seattle, Washington)

      Topic:  One of the challenges for public works personnel is finding means of funding to support public works projects.  This program will focus on the federal funding process and opportunities coming up in the overall public works arena.

      • Representative Judy Clibborn
      • Sarah Davenport-Smith
      • Rick Olson

      More Information and Registration:  Click here.

      North Carolina Construction Links

      Melissa Dewey Brumback, a construction attorney in Raleigh, North Carolina with the law firm of Ragsdale Liggett, has a useful list of construction law related links on her "Construction Law in North Carolina" blog.  Click here to view the Resources (links) page.

      I maintain a list of public contracting links on my website that are more focused on the State of Washington.

      Sunday, September 12, 2010

      Deadline Extended for Port of Seattle Job Applications

      Port of Seattle (Washington)

      The Port of Seattle has extended the deadline for submission of applications for its Contract Administration Manager position from September 9, 2010 to September 24, 2010. 
      • Position:  Contract Administration Manager
      • Summary of Duties:   Perform, lead, and supervise the public works construction contract functions for major or small contracts, and ensure that all bid and contract documents are prepared and executed in accordance with Port of Seattle policies, federal, state and local laws, regulations and agreements.
      • Salary:  $70,473 (minimum) - $88,082 (midpoint) annually
      • Closing Date:  Thursday, September 24, 2010 at midnight

      Seattle to Spend More Than $300 Million on CSO in Next 15 Years

      The City of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is scheduled to spend more than $300 million over the next 15 years on their Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) Program.

      Presentation:  On Thursday, September 16, 2010, Trish Rhay, the Director of Drainage and Wastewater System Management for SPU will speak on the CSO Program at the dinner meeting of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Construction Management Association (CMAA).  

      Ms. Rhay will answer the following questions about the program:
      • Why is SPU doing the program?
      • What is the current status of the program?
      • What types of projects are planned?
      • What opportunities may develop for CM firms?
      • What is the scheduled roll out of projects?
      Details:  The dinner meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 8:00 p.m. and will be held at the Rock Salt Steak House (1232 Westlake Ave. N, Seattle).  Cost is $40.

      More Information and Registration:  E-mail

      Thursday, September 9, 2010

      Auditor Developing Performance Audit Work Plan

      The Washington State Auditor's Office is currently developing their work plan for performance audits of local governments during the years 2011 through 2013.

      The Auditor will make their decisions of what agencies and programs to audit based on suggestions from local governments, citizens, public interest groups, and other interested parties, including the Auditor's Office.

      According to a solicitation for firms to help them gather input, the Auditor will use the following criteria to prioritize audit topics:
      • Focus on the highest state priorities:  Priority is placed on proposed audits that address the state's most important and costly programs and functions across government.
      • Address areas of high risk:  Some programs and activities require more attention because of the size of their budgets, the inherent risk of their missions, or the need for substantial reform.
      • Provide actionable recommendations:  Evaluate the likelihood that decision-makers will be able to follow through on potential audit recommendations, so that results will actually improve.
      • Return on investment:  In light of local governments' ongoing budget challenges, the selection process prioritizes audits that offer the potential to reduce costs or improve services within current spending.
      • Manageable audit scope:  Priority is given to audit topics that present a scope of work that can be accomplished in a timely manner.
      In November 2005, the voters of the State of Washington approved Initiative 900 that requires the State Auditor's Office to conduct performance audits of all public agencies in the state.  Initiative 900 is now included in RCW 43.09.470.

      CPPB Prep Class

      CPPB Prep Class  (Certified Professional Public Buyer)

      When:  October 4-5, 2010 (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

      Where:  Olympia, Washington (General Administration Building)

      Instructor:  Edward Pabor
      • $360 (NIGP National Member)
      • $360 (NIGP Chapter and National Member)
      • $500 (NIGP Chapter Only Member)
      • $500 (NIGP Non-Member)
      More Information and Registration, click here.

      Wednesday, September 8, 2010

      CPARB to Meet September 9, 2010

      Washington State's Capital Projects Advisory Review Board (CPARB) will meet on September 9, 2010 in Olympia, Washington.

      The agenda includes the following items:
      • King County Work Order Contracts:  This is in response to a complaint letter filed with CPARB by Seattle area minority contractors who argue that King County is not authorized to use this method of contracting because it does not comply with the current Job Order Contracting provisions authorized in chapter 39.10 RCW.  Click here for a copy of the letter from the minority contractors.  Many public agencies have work order, or on-call contracts, similar to King County's.
      • Integrated Project Delivery/Best Value Task Force:  CPARB will be reviewing recommendations from the Task Force for introducing legislation to permit a pilot Best Value selection process for public works projects.  The draft legislation defines Best Value as "a public works project that is awarded based on price, qualifications, and value added to the overall project."  Click here to read the draft legislation.
      • Bidder Responsibility/Eligibility Task Force: This Task Force has met a couple of times and hopes to meet again in late October to review proposed revisions to CPARB's Suggested Guidelines for Bidder Responsibility.  The Task Force is discussing how to ensure that Supplemental Bidder Responsibility Criteria are applied and used in a manner that meets the needs of public agencies and is fair for contractors.
      • CPARB Work Plan: Discussion on potential legislation and establishing a task force to begin to address issues surrounding the June 30, 2014 sunset date for the alternative public works laws.

      Webinar: Effective Negotiations - A Framework for Planning and Execution

      Webinar:  Effective Negotiations - A Framework for Planning and Execution

      When:  September 16,2010 (1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET)

      Instructor:  Richard Pennington

      • $75 for NIGP members
      • $105 for non-NIGP members
      More Information and Registration:  Click here

      Tuesday, September 7, 2010

      3 New Associations Join ConsensusDOCS

      ConsensusDOCS, which publishes standard construction industry contract documents, was recently joined by the following three associations:
      To read the August 17, 2010 news release from ConsensusDOCS and see the list of other endorsing organizations, click here.

      Design-Build Owners Forum in Seattle

      The Northwest Region of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) is sponsoring an Owners Forum on Design-Build.

      When:  Wednesday, September 22, 2010 (8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)

      Where: Doubletree Arctic Club Hotel - Dome Room (700 Third Avenue, Seattle, Washington)

      Key Speakers:
      • Owner ($50)
      • DBIA Member Practitioner ($195)
      • DBIA Non-Member Practitioner ($295)
      Information and Registration:  Click here

      Monday, September 6, 2010

      Federal Debarment Check Required for All Contract Types

      For any federally funded contract, public agencies must conduct a debarment check on the selected firm if the amount of the contract is $25,000 or more, regardless of the contract type.  Many agencies only have practices in place to address conducting the debarment check on public works construction projects.  

      Audit Finding:  The City of Olympia, Washington was recently the subject of an audit finding for failure to conduct the federal debarment check for $317,528 paid to an engineering consultant firm.  Click here to read the audit finding from the Washington State Auditor's Office.

      Federal Website Address:  To check the federal debarment and suspension history of firms, visit  Make sure you print a copy of the results to keep in your contract file.

      Emergency Correction of WA State Prevailing Wages

      The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has issued an emergency correction to prevailing wage rates for a number of classifications of Power Equipment Operators and Power Equipment Operators-Underground Sewer and Water in the following four counties:  Lewis, Pacific, Pierce, and Thurston.

      Effective September 2, 2010:  The emergency reductions of $4.95 per hour were published on L&I's website on September 2, 2010 and are effective as of September 2, 2010.  

      Impact on Public Agencies:  The corrected prevailing wage rates are effective for any public works project with a bid submittal deadline of September 2, 2010 or later.  While L&I's twice a year update of prevailing wages was effective September 1, 2010, it will be important for public agencies having projects with a bid submittal deadline of September 2, 2010 or later in the affected counties to reference the prevailing wage rates as of September 2, 2010, or to print the prevailing wages as of September 2, 2010, instead of September 1, 2010.

      Emergency Changes Effective Immediately:  Typically, corrections to prevailing wage rates become effective 30 days after publication by L&I, but L&I has the authority to issue emergency corrections that become effective immediately.

      See The Changes:  To view a list of the specific classifications impacted by the change, click here.

      Thursday, September 2, 2010

      Auditor Cuts Support for Small Cities in Washington

      The Washington State Auditor's Office in July cut to half-time the Small City Specialist in the office.  The position is designed to provide training and technical assistance for cities and towns with a population of less than 10,000 people.  In addition, the incumbent Small City Specialist recently resigned, taking a position in the private sector.

      Small cities and other small jurisdictions face the challenge of having just a few staff members responsible for many different areas.  Procurement and contracting is one of the areas that can create a lot of liability for a small jurisdiction, if staff do not have the proper training and experience.

      Wednesday, September 1, 2010

      State Training Conference and Trade Show in Tacoma, WA

      The Washington State Department of General Administration will be hosting its annual Training Conference and Trade Show on October 27-28, 2010 at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center.

      The event will feature more than 500 public purchasing managers, supply officers, public works contracting officers, facilities managers, fleet managers, and fiscal officers, who will be available to meet with businesses and vendors to discuss how they obtain government contracts.  Training sessions for government officials is also planned.

      For more information, visit event's website or contact them by e-mail at or by phone at (360) 902-7400.