Thursday, October 30, 2014

Job Opening: Contracts Consultant

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
  • Position: Contracts Consultant
  • Location:  Olympia, Washington
  • Closing Date:  November 30, 2014 at 11:59 pm, Pacific Time
  • Salary: $53,964 to $66,252 Annually
  • Job Summary: The Contracts Consultant has lead responsibility for providing expert level oversight of and consulting and technical assistance to its assigned programs. Additionally, ensuring that the DSHS Financial Services Administration's contract processes are managed in compliance with relevant laws, rules, and policies. The successful candidate will research, interpret, analyze and apply such laws, rules and policies to client service and personal service procurements and contracting, as well as Interlocal agreements and data sharing agreement.
  • For More Information and to Apply:  Click here.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Prevailing Wage Underpayments: Contractor Pays $200,000 in Back Wages

After a worker complaint and investigation by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, a Colorado contractor working on a Whatcom County (WA) jail project has paid almost $200,000 in back wages due to the workers. 

Workers were not apprentices:  The 13 workers were paid apprenticeship wages rather than the journey level electrician prevailing wages.  "In this case," noted Jim Christensen, Washington's prevailing wage manager, "the employees were doing the work of electricians and were not part of any state-registered apprenticeship program."

Contractor paid back wages in August:  The prevailing wage violation was the first one for Sierra Detention Systems, who contracted with the County for a $2 million contract.  In August, the company paid Labor and Industries $196,214.40 that will be disbursed to the underpaid workers. 

Fairness in bidding:  Given state and federal prevailing wage laws, when a contractor does not pay the prevailing wages, it directly impacts the integrity of the competitive bidding process.  Public agencies that receive federal funding for a public construction project are required to monitor whether the workers are being paid at least the prevailing wage rates for the type of work being performed.  Click here for an earlier blog I wrote on monitoring federal prevailing wages. 

News release:  Click here for a news release on the Colorado contractor underpayments, published by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Who Is Managing Compliance With Your Federal Grant Funding?

What's the first thing a public agency should do after receiving notice that it has obtained a federal grant for a project (right after celebrating!)?  Appoint someone to be responsible for compliance with the terms of the grant.

Complying with grant terms:  When you receive a grant, it's important to also pay attention to the following:
  • Understand the grant:  Read the terms of the grant and what it requires the recipient (your public agency) to do.
  • Solicitation requirements:  Determine what must be included in the terms of any Invitation to Bid or Request for Proposals/Qualifications.

  • Changed practices:  Figure out what agency practices need to change in order to be in compliance with the grant.
  • Monitor:  Ensure you have a monitoring system in place so that the various reporting and other requirements of the grant are complied with.
A common mistake:  What is one of the most common mistakes that public agencies make in administering the terms of a federal grant?  Not checking and documenting whether any company you contract with has been debarred or suspended by the federal government for violation of various federal laws and regulations.   

Automatic audit finding:  Public agencies who do not check and document the federal debarment and suspension status of firms contracted with are very likely to be issued an audit finding.  Recently, the Washington State Auditor's Office issued audit findings against the following public agencies for not ensuring compliance with this requirement:
Why do agencies miss this requirement?  There are a couple of reasons why agencies find themselves out of compliance with the debarment and suspension requirements:
  • Lack of awareness:  Some agencies simply aren't aware that it is a requirement to check and document whether firms contracted with have been debarred or suspended. The agency may infrequently receive federal funding or there may have been staff turnover.
  • Relying on others:  Some agencies delegate compliance with federal grant requirements to the architect or engineer who may not be familiar with the requirements or have the staffing and systems in place to ensure compliance.

  • Not tracking whether project has federal funds:  Without an adequate internal system to identify what projects have federal funding, some agencies fail to check on the debarment and suspension status of vendors, contractors, and consultants.  

  • Pass through funds:  Sometimes, federal funds are passed through to a local agency via a state agency.  It is important to track the source of the funding.  If the state received it from the federal government, the various grant requirements will continue to be passed through to local agencies.
  • Emergency contracts:   In issuing an emergency contract without competition, some public agencies forget that the federal debarment and suspension requirements still apply.
When do federal requirements apply?  
  • $25,000:  The federal debarment and suspension checking requirements apply to all vendors, contractors, and consultants receiving $25,000 or more on a federally funded project.

  • $1 taints the pot:  A project with any federal funding, regardless of how small, will trigger all of the requirements associated with such funding.
How to check for federal debarment:  It's easy to check for whether a business your agency is contracting with has been suspended or debarred from doing business with the federal government.  Go to, and enter the name of the business.  If the search does not reveal a record, click on the "save PDF" link that will include the name you searched for as well as a note indicating there were no search results.  Print this PDF and maintain it in your contract/project file for when you are audited.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Free Webinar on "5 Steps for Communicating the Value of Procurement"

5 Steps for Communicating the Value of Procurement

When:  Monday, October 27, 2014 (9:00 am - 10:00 am Pacific Time) 

Where:  Your computer 

Cost:  Free, but registration required.  Click here to register. 

Description: We all know that procurement teams bring value to their organization, but how do you communicate that value in a meaningful way? While the physical act of recording savings and efficiencies isn’t complicated, how do you determine what calculation(s) you will use? What kinds of savings do you focus on? Does every saving have to have a cash value associated with it? Who is going to do the recording and when? How do you present the information to put Procurement in the best light? These questions and more are answered as we present the specific steps Multnomah County went through to articulate the value of procurement. At the end of this session, a roadmap is provided for you to take away and plan your own recording and reporting of the value of Procurement.

Sponsored by: Spikes Cavell

Registration:  Click here to register. 
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Applicants Sought for Washington's Project Review Committee

The Capital Projects Advisory Review Board (CPARB) is seeking letters of interest from individuals knowledgeable in the use of GC/CM and Design-Build to serve a 3-year term on its Project Review Committee (PRC). 

Open seats:  The following open seats will be filled by CPARB at its meeting on November 13, 2014:
  • 2 Owner - Higher Education
  • 1 Owner - School Districts
  • 1 Owner - Cities
  • 1 Owner - Counties
  • 1 Design Industry - Engineer
  • 1 Construction Manager
  • 2 Specialty Subcontractor
  • 2 Minority/Women Owned Business
Function of the PRC:  The Project Review Committee reviews applications from public agencies in Washington state interested in using either GC/CM or Design-Build for specific projects.  The PRC also certifies experienced public agencies, granting them authority to use these alternative project delivery methods without seeking PRC approval for each project. 

PRC meetings:  The PRC meets as often as bi-monthly to review project applications and hear applicant public agencies present their reasons for wanting to use GC/CM or Design-Build. 

To apply:  Individuals interested in serving on the PRC should submit a short letter (that will be posted on CPARB's website) by 5:00 pm on November 1, 2014 to Danelle Bessett at  The letter should include the following information:
  • Your name, title, and company or public agency name
  • Work address, email address, and best contact phone number
  • Short paragraph which highlights your skills, background or special knowledge for the PRC
  • Three references with contact information
Additional information:

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Free Career Workshop in Bellevue, WA

Career Workshop

When:  October 20, 2014 (6:00 pm - 8:30 pm) 

Where:  Bellevue, WA (Bellevue Library, Room #1, 110 Ave. NE) 

Sponsored by:  ISM (Institute for Supply Management) - Western Washington 

  • 6:00 - 7:00 pm: Presentation about resumes and interview tips followed by Q&A session
  • 7:00 - 8:30 pm: Individual help with resumes and mock interviews.  Networking opportunities available.
Cost:  Free, but registration online at is required.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Job Opening: Contracts Manager

Active Construction, Inc. (ACI)
  • Position: Contracts Manager
  • Location:  Tacoma, Washington
  • Closing Date:  Open until filled
  • Salary: $55,000 to $65,000 Annually plus benefits (based on experience)
  • Job Summary: This position is responsible for preparing client contracts to be routed to company project managers and principals for review and execution.  The contracts consist of a mix of public, private, and federally funded works and have ACI in either a general contractor role or as a subcontractor.  In addition to reviewing ACI's contract with their client, this position would then develop a subcontractor agreement template based on the specifics of the project as well as setting up the document controls specific to each project.
  • Qualifications:  This position requires a basic understanding of contracts, specifications, flow-down risk, insurance, prevailing wages, etc., as well as involving heavy usage of MS Word and Outlook along with light usage of MS Excel.  The individual in the position must be organized, able to multi-task, and communicate with a variety of personalities.
  • About Active Construction, Inc.:  Active Construction, Inc. is actively involved with CFMA (Construction Financial Management Association), AGC, and many other construction industry agencies.  ACI promotes job/industry related education and encourages participation in various opportunities offered by these different agencies.  ACI is a union company as well as being an equal opportunity employer.
  • For More Information and to Apply:  Contact Lia Davis, Controller, at Active Construction, Inc., PO Box 430, Puyallup, WA 98371, or for additional information or to submit your resume for consideration.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

WA State Auditor Issues Updated Guidance on Federally Funded Projects

The Washington State Auditor's Office has issued important updated guidance to local agencies about how they will interpret federal and local requirements working together, and what the Auditor's Office expects in terms of compliance.

Here's what the Auditor's Office wrote in their Fall 2014, Audit Connection newsletter: 

"Federal procurement requirements update:  In the past, our Office's guidance regarding procurements using federal funds indicated that local governments could rely solely on state bid law.  However, that guidance is being updated.  Procurements using federal funds must meet all of the applicable federal, state and local government-specific requirements.  Therefore, when there is state law that sets a threshold for small purchase procedures that is less restrictive than federal requirements, the local government's purchasing practices must also conform to the applicable federal regulations.

Federal regulations require that all purchases using federal funds meet certain bidding and procurement requirements.  The Circular A-102 Common Rule, currently adopted by federal agencies in their own regulations, allows non-federal entities to "use their own procurement procedures which reflect applicable State and local laws and regulations, provided that the procurements conform to applicable Federal law and the standards identified in this section."

For example, a local government may have state law thresholds that require quotes for purchases over $40,000 and bids for purchases over $75,000.  However, current federal regulations for small purchases (under $100,000) require it to obtain quotes from an "adequate number of qualified vendors" - which means at least two.  Therefore, we would expect to see quotes for all purchases below the state bid threshold of $75,000 or less.  Since the federal "micro-purchase" rules exempt procurements of less than $3,000 from these requirements, we would apply this guidance to purchases of $3,000 and above. (Note that the federal limit for small purchases will rise to $150,000 in December 2014.)

Additionally, the local government's policies and procedures for small purchases with federal funds should be consistent with its procedures for purchasing with state or local funds.  In other words, if the policy is to obtain three quotes (written or verbal), we would expect the same for the federal purchases."

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Monday, October 13, 2014

Job Opening: Purchasing Manager

Kitsap County, Washington
  • Position: Purchasing Manager
  • Location:  Port Orchard, Washington
  • Closing Date:  Open until filled
  • Salary: $61,484 to $78,478 Annually
  • Job Summary: The incumbent is responsible for the planning, managing, and coordinating of the County's purchasing function.  The incumbent insures the development and implementation of purchasing programs which result in economical use of County funds while meeting specific needs for goods and services.  The incumbent interacts with outside vendors, manufacturers, contractors and County employees at all levels.
  • For More Information and to Apply:  Click here.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Training on Construction Bidding and Contracting

I am teaching three courses for NIGP at various locations across the country.  If you're interested in having me teach any of these classes for your NIGP chapter or public agency, please contact Faye Jackson at NIGP directly at  If you're within Washington state, contact me directly. Here's a description of the courses.

Maryland State Capitol
in Annapolis
When Bad Things Happen to Bids: Strategies for Ensuring Successful Public Construction Projects:   I was in Annapolis, Maryland on September 12, 2014 teaching this course.  Here's an outline of this one day course: 

Why Aren’t Bidders More Careful?
  • Why Do Bidders Make Mistakes?
  • Missing Bid Prices
  • Conflict Between Numbers and Words
  • Bid Calculation Errors
  • Claims of Error
Is Your Bidder Playing Games?
  • Bid is Too Low
  • Incentive Payments
  • Unbalanced Bids
  • Conditioned or Qualified Bids
Will the Real Low Bidder Please Stand Up?
  • Additive and Alternate Bids
  • Tie Bids
  • Responsive Bids
  • Responsible Bidders
  • Local Bid Preferences
  • Bid Protests and Appeals
  • Conflicts of Interest
What Can You Do to Manage Bidding?
  • What Should Be on the Bid Form?
  • Why Should You Limit Submissions with the Bid?
  • On What Days Should You Not Receive Bids?
  • When is a Bid Late?
  • When Should You Take a Bid Guaranty?
Best Practices in Developing Public Construction Bid Documents:  I'll be teaching this course on October 27 in Savannah, Georgia.  Here's an outline of this one day course:

Principles of Preparation

Formats and Structures
  • Organizational Structures
  • Content Based Systems
  • What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Industry Approved Documents?
Components of Bid Documents
  • Advertisement for Bids
  • Instructions to Bidders
  • Bid Form
  • Payment and Performance Bonds
  • Bidding and Contract Reporting Forms
  • Contract
  • General Conditions / Specifications
  • Technical Specifications
  • Prevailing Wages
  • Specialty Reports and Studies
  • Addenda
Project Review of Bid Documents
  • Do the Bid Documents Reflect Your Objectives?
  • What Provisions Should You Tailor to a Project?
  • Who Should Review the Documents Before Advertisement?
Long Term Review of Bid Documents
  • Baseline Review
  • Annual Review
  • Internal and External Consistency
  • Training
Document Management and Control
  • How Can You Protect Your Standard Documents?
  • Where Should the Standard Documents be Electronically Stored?
  • Who Should Make Changes to Your Standard Documents?
  • How Can You Keep Track of Changes?
Procurement Tools for Ensuring Contractor Performance on Public Construction Projects:  I'll be teaching this class on November 3 in Phoenix, Arizona and then again on November 17 in Hagerstown, Maryland.  Here's an outline of this one day course: 

Is the Contractor Qualified?
  • Pre-qualify Bidders
  • Establish Bidder Responsibility Criteria
  • Specification Qualification Requirements
  • Subcontractor Approval Process
How Can You Manage the Bidding Process?
  • Develop Clear Bidding Documents
  • Optional vs. Mandatory Pre-Bid Meetings
  • Craft Clear Addenda
  • Accept Bidder’s Claim of Error
How Can Bonding Companies Help?
  • Bid Bonds and Other Bid Guaranties
  • Performance Bonds
  • Payment Bonds
  • Warranty Bonds
What Financial Tools Are at Your Disposal?
  • Withhold Retainage
  • Determine and Assess Liquidated Damages
  • Assess Actual Damages
  • Obtain Release of Claims Prior to Payments
What Are Effective Construction Management Practices?
  • Avoid Front-Loaded Schedule of Values
  • Inspect Work Performed
  • Review Pay Applications for Work Completed
  • Manage Claims Process
  • Control Change Orders Approved
Can You Evaluate Contractor Performance?
  • Features of Effective Contractor Performance Evaluation Programs
  • Using Results from Contractor Evaluations
When Can You Award Based on Price and Qualifications?
  • Best Value Procurement
  • Design-Build
  • Construction Manager at Risk
  • Job Order Contracting
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Global Standards for Public Procurement Developed by NIGP

NIGP - The Institute for Public Procurement, has developed a series of position papers or standards addressing a variety of key issues in public procurement. 

Global Standards issued to date:  The following are the subjects for the "Global Standards of Public Procurement Practice" that have been adopted to date:
  1. Strategic Planning
  2. Performance Measurement
  3. Performance Management
  4. Performance Metrics
  5. Cooperative Procurement
  6. Transparency
  7. Risk Management
  8. Developing a Procurement Policy Manual
  9. Ethical Procurement
  10. Performance Based Contracting
  11. Sustainable Procurement
  12. Spend Analysis
  13. A Lease-Purchase Decision
  14. Specifications
  15. Developing Evaluation Criteria
  16. Outsourcing
  17. Technology in Public Procurement
  18. Evaluation Process
  19. Supplier Relationship Management 
  20. Qualifications-Based Selection for Architectural and Engineering Services (QBS)
  21. Public-Private Partnerships 
More information:  To read the actual standards developed for each of the above-listed items, click here to visit NIGP's website.  Select "Public Procurement Practices & Principles" on the left side of the page and then click on any of the specific statements you wish to read.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Monday, October 6, 2014

Free Bonding Education Program Workshop

Many public agencies have policies that encourage the use of small, socio-economically disadvantaged businesses and those owned by women and minorities. On public works construction projects, one of the long-standing impediments for these businesses to participate on public projects is the inability to obtain a payment and performance bond. 

Target audience:  
  • Small and Emerging Contractors:  This workshop will provide tools for small and emerging contractors to get to the point where they can obtain the required bonding.
  • Transportation Contractors:  The program is tailored to contractors competing for transportation related contracts, but is open to all contractors seeking to expand their business and run their operation more effectively.  
  • Public Agencies:  The workshop will also be valuable for public agencies seeking to understand better some of the challenges faced by small contractors in obtaining bonding.  
When: 5 classes on the following dates from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm (attendance at all five classes is required).  Includes a free dinner.
  • October 16, 2014
  • October 23, 2014
  • October 30, 2014
  • November 4, 2014
  • November 18, 2014
Where:  New Holly Gathering Hall, 7054 32nd Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98118

  • Bonding Fundamentals & Managing Growth
  • Banking and Financing for Contractors
  • Loan Application Package
  • Construction Accounting and Financial Management
  • Estimating and Bidding
  • Credit Repair
  • Prevailing Wage Law
  • Contracts and Clauses
Questions:  Call (425) 248-4222

Sponsored by:
  • Surety & Fidelity Association of America (SFAA)
  • U.S. Department of Transportation, Northwest Small Business Transportation Resource Center
  • Sound Transit   
Registration:  Click here to register online.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Job Opening: Contract Administrator, Service Agreements

Port of Seattle
  • Position: Contract Administrator, Service Agreements
  • Location:  Seattle, Washington
  • Closing Date:  Open until filled
  • Salary: $59,845 to $74,821 Annually
  • Job Summary: The individual in this position will manage the procurement contract process for routine service agreements from inception to closing.  Manage service agreement procurement schedule.  Organize and facilitate meetings, address questions and concerns both internal and external.  Coordinate and draft addenda.  Address bid protests and present recommendations to management.  Advise customers/clients on public works procurement requirements and strategies to facilitate and expedite the process, using critical thinking and analysis.
  • For More Information and to Apply:  Click here.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Job Opening: Contracts Manager

State of Washington, Dept. of Social and Health Services
  • Position: Contracts Manager
  • Location:  Olympia, Washington
  • Closing Date:  October 26, 2014 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time
  • Salary: $63,144 - $81,600 Annually
  • Job Summary:  The individual in this position will be responsible for planning, leading, organizing, and managing multiple high level activities and complex projects, along with providing expert level guidance and consultation concerning procurement and contracting.
  • For More Information and to Apply:  Click here.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Free Webinar on Change Orders

Change Orders: Reduce Their Impact with a Streamlined Approach

When:  Wednesday, October 15, 2014 from 11:00 am - 12:00 pm, Pacific Time 

Where:  Your office 

Cost:  Free, but registration is required 

Description:  Change orders account for approximately 8-14% of all capital construction dollars.  Change orders occur for a multitude of reasons: changes in project scope such as products, equipment and finishes; design errors and omissions; unforeseen conditions; and deleted or added work outside the original scope of work.  In addition to increasing construction costs, the negotiation of these inevitable nuisances is time consuming, can turn combative and is an administrative burden to facility owners.

This webinar will focus on the challenges of change orders and the best practices to control the risks associated when change orders occur. It will delve into the impact of change orders on construction projects from the perspectives of a solution provider and an owner. Their broad scope of experience will provide attendees with valuable knowledge and insight to the change order process.

  • Paul Schreyer of The Gordian Group
  • John Alfred, Supervising Facilities, Senior Project Manager for Riverside County, California 
Sponsored by: The Gordian Group

Register:  Click here to register. 
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What is the "Standard of Care" for Architects and Engineers in Designing Projects?

Most contracts between public agencies and architects or engineers designing a public works construction project require that the designer's standard of care "shall be no less than that exercised by architects of similar reputation performing work for projects of a size, scope and complexity similar to this project."  The language defining the standard of care may vary by agency and contract.  

John P. Ahlers
Code compliance is important:  Design contracts also generally require the designer to comply with building and other codes when designing the project.  In a 2014 Florida court case, the court held that the architect was liable for the construction change order costs that were necessary because the architect's design had failed to comply with current fire safety standards on a high school renovation project.  During the design process, the architect disagreed with the opinion of an independent design reviewer that the design did not meet code.  During construction, the building department determined that the plans were not in compliance with the code and required changes to the design and construction.

More information:  Well known and respected Seattle construction attorney John P. Ahlers has written a much more detailed summary of this court case in his August 28, 2014 blog, Architect Held to a Higher Standard of Care.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC