Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Electronic Bidding on Public Works Projects Approved for State Agencies in Washington

The Washington State Legislature approved Substitute House Bill 1841 that authorizes state agencies to conduct public works competitive bidding processes electronically and accept electronic signatures in such processes.

State agencies only:  The new law, which is effective on June 12, 2014, does not apply to local governments such as cities, counties, school districts, port districts, etc., but only to state agencies and departments.  Most laws that apply to local agencies require the submission of "sealed bids" for public works projects, and thus electronic bidding is not permitted for local agencies. 

Electronic signatures:  The bill defines an electronic signature as "a signature in electronic form attached to or logically associated with an electronic record." 

Standards and policies:  The state is required to develop standards and policies for electronic submision of public works bids.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
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Anonymous said...

There are many local agencies across the state currently using electronic bidding (e.g. QuestCDN). If this is illegal it would appear the state needs to educate them.

Mike Purdy said...

Personally, I'm not aware of any local agencies using electronic bidding for public works projects in Washington. Maybe for purchase of goods and services? I'd love to know more details. Send me an email. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between electronic bidding (a very bad thing) and electronic bid submission (a very good thing). Use of electronic bidding systems for posting bids (auctions)is unethical as it is a form of bid shopping. It also reduces primary bidder (GC) participation, and does not enable a public agency to obtain the lowest possible bid price. Electronic bid submission however enables a primary bidder to prepare and submit its very best price right up until the moment that the bids are due. This should of course continue to be done under a "sealed bid" process whereby bids are not opened by the purchasing agent until after the stated bid time.

Anonymous said...

Have you heard if there is or will be a push to allow it on the local level anytime soon? Seems like a missed opprotunity here.

Mike Purdy said...

I've not heard of any push to allow local agencies to allow electronic submission of bids. Since there are different laws for different types of agencies, it would require individual entities or entity organizations to encourage legislation. I think this will happen, but my guess is that it is a couple of years out at least.

Mike Purdy said...

Interesting distinction between electronic bidding and electronic bid submission, although I think the term electronic bidding does also apply to submission of bids electronically.

Benjamin Bourdon said...

It's simply not true that electronic bidding is not allowed for counties, and probably other local agencies. RCW 36.32.235 simply specifies that the bids be "in writing" and that they are "opened and read in public." Washington has enacted the UETA, which would allow for an electronic record to satisfy the "in writing" requirement (including electronic signatures), and there are definitely established software solutions out there that can ensure that bids are not opened prematurely or tampered with. I'm really not trying to shill for my company; just wanted to point out that this new law does not prohibit something that counties were already allowed to do.