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Changes coming to small-works roster laws, rules

Changes coming to small-works roster laws, rules – The State Legislature has passed, and DES is drafting rules to implement, significant changes to the state’s small-works roster statute. Among other things, the legislation (2SSB 5268):

  • A state agency or authorized local government establishing a small-works roster must require contractors who desire to be placed on the roster to indicate if they meet the definition of a women and minority-owned business, veteran-owned business or small business.
  • The Department of Commerce (Commerce), through the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC), must develop a statewide small-works roster by June 30, 2024.
  • For small public-works projects with an estimated cost less than $150,000, state agencies and local governments may, and are encouraged to, direct contract with small businesses without a competitive process before direct contracting with other contractors on the appropriate small-works roster.
  • If there are six or more contractors meeting the definition of small businesses on the applicable roster, the state agency or authorized local government must direct contract with one of those small businesses that have interest in performing work in the applicable geographic area. A state agency or authorized local government must rotate through the contractors on the appropriate small-works roster.
  • If there are five or fewer contractors meeting the definition of small business on the applicable roster, the state agency or authorized local government may direct contract with any contractor on the applicable roster.
  • For small public-works contracts under $5,000, there is no requirement for retainage or performance bonds.

These changes take effect July 1, 2024. The bill was negotiated and recommended to the Legislature by the Capital Projects Advisory Review Board (CPARB).

Meanwhile, the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) is proposing changes to its public works contracting rules (WAC 200-330). The changes are needed to align with the changes passed via the legislation described above.

The proposal updates requirements for state agencies and local governments when awarding small-works contracts under state law. Changes include:

  • adding definitions
  • recordkeeping requirements for contracting agencies
  • clarifications on estimated cost and how change orders impact cost.
  • requirements for contractor-rotation policies to ensure that agencies avoid favoritism when using direct contracting
  • requirements for direct contracting solicitations, including quote solicitation and price negotiation.

Provide oral comments at a virtual public hearing on Jan. 9, 2024 at 10 a.m. via Zoom or by telephone (call 877-853-5247, use webinar ID 967 2830 2186). You can also submit written comments online until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.

DES is interested in feedback on whether the rules meet the intent of the Legislature under 2SSB 5268 to update and revise the small- and limited-works roster process to

  • increase administrative efficiency,
  • encourage greater participation and utilization by small, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses, and
  • continue to protect the rights of workers engaging in public works projects.

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