AGC secures legislators’ help to speed up retainage release

At the request of AGC, key legislators are pursuing faster release of retainage on public works projects. House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee Chair Mike Sells and Ranking Minority Member Matt Manweller, as well as Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee Chair Michael Baumgartner, are pressing the Department of Labor and Industries to dramatically speed-up the time it takes to release retainage.

AGC members have been expressing concern about the amount of time – months, even more than a year – it takes for retainage to be released. While there are many steps taken before retainage is released (Departments of Revenue, Employment Security and L&I all have to sign-off), AGC found that a particular bottleneck has been L&I, which had been taking nearly 100 days to complete its step of the process.

In a letter to L&I Director Joel Sacks, the legislators noted that state law requires that 60 days after completion of all contract work, the public body must release retainage, but to meet this obligation it requires timely approval from L&I and the other departments.

The letter from Sen. Baumgartner and Reps. Sells and Manweller says, in part:

It has been brought to our attention that L&I currently takes more than 90 days on average to approval and release retainage and has a backlog of about 1,000 retainage release requests to be processed. We request that the Department take steps to eliminate this backlog and reduce the average approval timeline to 60 days. We further request that the Department report to us by September 31, 2017: 1) the steps it is taking to improve the timeliness of retainage release approvals and the elimination of the backlog, 2) the improvements to date of the average approval time and the size of the backlog, and 3) its long-term strategy for maintaining an average approval timeline of 60 days with a minimal backlog.

In his initial response, Director Sacks says that work is underway to eliminate the backlog and reduce average approval timeline to 60 days, and the Department will provide the required report in September.

AGC will keep members apprised. In the meantime, questions or comments can be directed to AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.