Tuesday, July 23, 2013

When Must a City Council Award Contracts?

The Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) in Washington state recently responded on their website to the following question:
Must the city council approve the award of a contract for a public works project that costs about $300,000 and for supplies and equipment that will cost over $7500?
MRSC's answer:  Here is the answer that MRSC provided to this question:
As general background, the council is the body within a city that has general authority over the award of all contracts, whether for a public works contract or for a purchase of supplies or equipment. So, the authority to award a bid - which precedes the actual contract - rests with the city council. I would expect the council to follow this approach when awarding large contracts. So the award of a bid on a public works contract that is worth $300,000 or on an expensive purchase should be first approved by the city council.
However, the council may delegate to an administrative officer the authority to enter into contracts below a certain amount without prior council approval (this assumes the contract is within the appropriate budget appropriation). Some cities have, for example, applied such a delegation to purchases costing under $10,000 or to an even higher amount. This should be done expressly in a council resolution, in the city's purchasing policy, or the like, that specifically indicates the monetary limits of that delegation. 
MRSC's website:  MRSC offers a wealth of information for local governments.  Click here to visit their website.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2013 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC 

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