Updated contracting requirements tool can help ease your procurement woes

Jun 14, 2023

Procurement and competitive bidding laws can be complicated, often varying based on government type, the nature of the procurement, and the estimated cost, and it can be difficult to wade through existing requirements or stay updated on new ones.

That's why SAO, in partnership with the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC), developed the Find Your Contracting Requirements tool in 2015. This free tool helps local governments identify and understand their statutory legal requirements for purchasing and contracting. The tool asks up to three simple questions, then provides you with a summary of your competitive bidding and contracting requirements.

We recently upgraded the tool to include the option of additional project types, an expansion of the types of governments, and guidance on federal funding. Here is a summary of our additions:

New procurement type for electronic data processing/telecommunications

Procuring electronic data processing or telecommunications equipment, software, or services to support your government's internal administrative functions can be confusing. Procuring things like computer hardware, custom or off-the-shelf software, or various audio, video, internet and data systems can lead to several questions—is it an equipment purchase? A service? Would installation be considered a public work?

To answer these questions, a new project type has been added to question No. 1: “What type of procurement is this?” You can now select “Acquisition of electronic data processing or telecommunications equipment, software, or services” to learn the requirements, including a review of the optional competitive negotiation process under RCW 39.04.270.

Expanded agency types

For public works and purchases, we have updated the menu options to make it easier to find housing authorities and public development authorities (public corporations). These government types were included previously, but they were harder to find.

Federal funding sections added

Each project result page now has a section that provides specific information regarding federal funding requirements based on the unique project type selected. However, if your procurement involves federal funds, you will still need to work closely with your granting agency and carefully review state and federal requirements, using the most stringent of the two.

Additional resources

While Find Your Contracting Requirements is based on reliable interpretations of Washington statutes relating to purchasing and contracting, we encourage you to work with your legal counsel and to consult local ordinances and policies before contracting for any public works, purchases or services.

In addition to updating the contracting tool, we've also created the Alternative Public Works Contracting Methods web page that describes design-build contracting, general contractor/construction manager contracting, and job order contracting.

You can also find a variety of resources about purchasing, bidding, and contracting on SAO's and MRSC's websites.