Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Do you need a pre-audit of your contracting practices?

I've started reading through the 334 page performance audit report issued by the Washington State Auditor's Office on December 20, 2007. The report includes a number of critical and recommendations on the Port's construction management program. My sense is that many public agencies probably have similar practices that would subject them to similar findings.

The audit of the Port of Seattle can be instructive in helping public agencies understand what types of practices do not meet the test for good public contracting practices.

If you are interested, I would be glad to talk with you about conducting a pre-audit of your contracting practices. Such a pre-audit can help a public agency make necessary corrections to their contracting practices, but without the public scrutiny and adverse publicity that comes from a formal audit. E-mail or call me if you're interested in chatting further about this concept.

Roster, On-Calls, and Consultant Selection

Rosters, On-Calls, and Consultant Selection - Sponsored by APWA (Washington State Chapter)

$37 (includes dinner)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
4:45 pm to 7:45 pm
Rock Salt On Latitude 47
1232 Westlake Avenue North, Seattle

For more information and to register:

Selecting the best consultant for engineering or architectural services is one of the most critical tasks for a successful project. However, the process is often costly and can take significant time for both agencies and consultants. Many agencies have gone to a roster or on-call format to simplify the process. Other agencies rely on published requests for proposals or qualifications to meet their needs. A few years ago, several agencies banded together to share a roster managed by the City of Lynnwood. This process was intended to reduce workload for agencies and consultants, but the City of Lynnwood has since decided to discontinue the shared roster program. So what’s happening now?

  • Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) is taking over the Lynnwood Shared Roster Program. John Carpita will speak about the MRSC shared small works and consultant rosters and what is in store for agencies and consultants.
  • The Shared Procurement Portal includes an Architects and Engineers Consultant Roster and Small Works Roster. Doug Jacobson will speak about this program that was by the eCityGov Alliance, a group that was formed by nine Cities in 2002 to create a regionally coordinated portal(s) for the delivery of public sector services via the Internet such as on-line building permits, GIS data, and parks & recreation class registration.
  • Agencies and consultants expend considerable energy and time in the selection process. This translates to higher project costs through a combination of additional agency staff time, increased consultant overhead, and extended project completion. Craig Stampher will lead a discussion on efficient use of the roster and on-call processes from a consultant perspective. Rosters and on-calls should reduce these costs when compared with the typical request for proposal process, but only if they are used effectively. This discussion will focus on making the process more efficient, so bring your ideas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Critical Audit of Port of Seattle Construction Management

On December 20, 2007, the Washington State Auditor's Office released a 334 page performance audit of the Port of Seattle's Construction Management program.

Six major findings in the audit are summarized as follows:

  1. Port construction management lacks cost controls and accountability.
  2. The Port circumvents competition requirements in violation of its own policies and sometimes in violation of state law.
  3. Port policies and Port management’s interpretations of its policies result in a lack of transparency and thwart Commission oversight of construction management activities.
  4. Port construction management records are incomplete and disorganized.
  5. The Port fails to enforce basic contract requirements, resulting in delays, extra costs, and an inability to defend against claims.
  6. Port construction management is vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse.
The audit was part of the State Auditor's Office was conducted under the authority of citizen-approved Initiative 900.

A copy of the audit report may be found at the following website address:

Basics of Public Works Contract Administration - Training

Basics of Public Works Contract Administration, February 13, 2008.

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Washington State Chapter of NIGP.

Olympia (Washington State Transit Insurance Pool, 2629 12th Ct. SW, Olympia, WA 98502)

Instructor: Charlotte Walther, CPPB, Contracts Administrator, Port of Everett. Charlotte is a very knowledgeable and effective teacher.

For more information, visit:

Fees for this event:

Non-members: $180.00
Chapter Only Member: $150.00
National Members: $150.00
Chapter & National Member: $150.00

Legal Aspects of Public Purchasing - Training

Legal Aspects of Public Purchasing, Sponsored by the Washington State Chapter of NIGP. Registration deadline is December 21, 2007

January 14-16, 2008, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at Bellevue City Hall.

Seminar Fees: NIGP National Member - $575; Nonmember - $750 (includes Chapter members)

Instructor: Ken Babich, CPPO, Director of Purchasing Services, University of Victoria, BC

For more information, visit:

General Description: Designed to be an educational exploration of the Legal Aspects of Public Procurement, this course will provide a foundation of the principles and general concepts of the law as it applies to public procurement. Course content will address issues such as the UCC, the Model Procurement Code, Sale of Goods Act and the legal implications surrounding solicitations, contracting and post award issues. Attention will be given to the ethical issues facing the profession relevant to the law. Taught by a procurement professional, not an attorney, this course will focus on actual procurement situations with actual procurement implications.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Construction Claims Training

Construction Claims in Washington - March 6, 2008, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Washington State Convention & Trade Center, Seattle, WA
$349, sponsored by Lorman Education Services

  • RCW 64.55 in Action - From the Condominium Association to the Developer and Back
  • Using Mock Jury or Focus Group Research in Construction Defect Cases
  • Insurance Coverage and its Critical Role in Construction Defect Claims
  • Defect Liability in Condominium Projects
  • Changes in Defect Claims over the last five years

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Best Value" Conference

Best Value is a procurement tool, specifically for obtaining public works, that is getting some discussion now in Washington State. Instead of focusing solely on the low bid, it focuses on which contractor provides the best overall value for the public agency. There may be legislation introduced in the 2009 legislative session on this subject.

There will be a conference on the subject from February 11 - 15, 2008 in Arizona. See the following website for more information:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Emergency Declaration for A/E Contracts

Washington State law requires that four disciplines (architects, engineers, landscape architects, and land surveyors) be selected based on which firm is the most qualified, without considering price as an evaluation criterion. Chapter 39.80 RCW does provide, however, that in the event of an emergency, a public agency may waive the selection procedures outlined in state law. RCW 39.80.060 states that a public agency may waive the selection procedures in chapter 39.80 RCW "when the contracting authority makes a finding in accordance with this or any other applicable law that an emergency requires the immediate execution of the work involved."

There are, of course, separate laws that apply for waiving the competitive bidding requirements for execution of a public works project in the event of an emergency.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Questions on Public Contracting?

If you have any questions related to public contracting, feel free to use this Blog as a means to communicate with me, or you can e-mail me directly (

Tools to Reduce Change Orders

A couple of fairly simple steps can help reduce the number and size of change orders on your public works projects.

  1. Have clear plans and specifications. Review the bidding documents you receive from the architect or engineer before advertising for clarity, consistency, and comprehensiveness.
  2. Conduct pre-bid site inspection meetings. The bidders who attend can be a valuable tool in pointing out areas of ambiguity in the bidding documents.
  3. Issue addenda to clarify or revise any problem areas in the bidding documents. This will all help ensure that the bidders are bidding on the project with a common understanding.
  4. Consider a claim of error. If, after receipt of bids, the low bidder submits a claim of error asking to be relieved of liability for the bid due to an error they made in preparing the bid, think carefully about the request. Generally, it is not in the best interests of a public agency to award a contract to a bidder who has requested out of its bid due to an error. If you award to them, they will look for every opportunity to make up the difference through change orders.
  5. Hold a partnering session after award of the contract. A partnering session is an opportunity for the contractor, owner, and designer to spend a couple of hours, a half day, or a full day together talking about communications protocol on the project and developing a sense of teamwork and how they all intend to cooperate on the project.
  6. Ensure that your contract has clear provisions for change orders and payment procedures.
  7. Make sure you know your contract. A good contract for an owner offers many helpful tools to effectively manage the project and to reduce the number of change orders.

More on Bidder Responsibility

The Industry-Wide Subcommittee of the Capital Projects Advisory Review Board (CPARB) met on Friday (December 7th) to continue its discussion of additional supplemental bidder responsibility criteria to be included in the Suggested Guidelines for Bidder Responsibility. No decisions were made at the meeting. There are still some issues to discuss regarding the language for three proposed criteria: lawsuits, prevailing wages, and safety. Hopefully, the issues will be resolved before the January meeting and these can then be added by CPARB to the existing list of suggested supplemental bidder responsibility criteria in the Suggested Guidelines.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Washington State Bar Association Newsletter

The Washington State Bar Association's Summer 2007 newsletter is available online at

It includes articles on the following recent court cases:
  • Contractor Prevails on Prevailing Wage Issue - Court Holds L&I to its Pre-Bid Interpretation of Administration Regulations (Silverstreak, Inc. v. Department of Labor and Industries, 3129/2007, Docket Number 76695-9)
  • Washington Supreme Court Abandons the Completion and Acceptance Doctrine (Davis v. Baugh Industrial Contractors, Inc.)
  • Liability for Utility Company Delays (Scoccolo Construction, Inc. v. City of Renton)

Shared Procurement Portal

A number of public agencies in Washington State have recently launched a Shared Procurement Portal in cooperation with The first phase of the implementation includes a shared roster program for the following:

  • Small Works Roster
  • Professional Services/A&E Roster
  • Legal Services
  • General Services Roster
  • Vendor Roster
For more information, visit the website at or contact Mayvis Schwab at

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

GC/CM Training

The Associated General Contractors (AGC) is sponsoring a two day training session on the new law (effective July 1, 2007) on the use of the General Contractor/Construction Manager (GC/CM) project delivery system for public works construction projects.

The training will be held on January 31, 2008 and February 1, 2008 at the AGC Building (1200 Westlake Avenue North, Seattle). Cost is $350 per person and includes lunch on both days.

For more information visit this website: