A new state law went into effect on January 1, 2013 that consolidates procurement laws under the Department of Enterprise Services. The goal of the new law is to make the procurement process more transparent, competitive and efficient.
What's happening with the project
The department has been working with customer agencies, vendors and other interested parties to develop new procurement guidelines, policies, rules, processes and best practices. Some changes are in place now, while work continues on other elements of procurement reform, as described below.
Summary of changes
Sole source and personal service contracts
The new law requires Enterprise Services' approval of sole source contracts prior to start of work and review of emergency contracts. Agencies are not required to submit personal service contracts that are competitively solicited for review.
Agency contract reporting
To foster transparency related to state procurement processes and agency contracts, every Washington State agency and public higher education institution is required to annually submit a list of all contracts entered into or renewed for the previous fiscal year. This information will be maintained by the Department of Enterprise Services and made available for public inspection. A project is underway to provide the means and processes to fulfill the intent and mandates of the law.
The new procurement law gives Enterprise Services the ability to debar contractors for cause. Debarment is a process by which a contractor, individual, or other entity is prohibited from submitting a bid, having a bid considered, or entering into a state contract during a period of time specified in a debarment order.
Work in progress
Enterprise Services is collaborating with several state agencies including the Department of Transportation (WSDOT), some higher education entities, the Office of Minority and Women's Business Enterprises (OMWBE) and Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) to develop the model plan. It is expect to be published late second quarter 2014. Additionally, DES, OMWBE and DVA have collaborated to release updated reports to assist in evaluation of the state spend metric. DES has also created an internal report to evaluate the registration of small business registration in WEBS metric.
Risk assessment pilot
The director of Enterprise Services is charged with establishing policies for delegating authority to state agencies. Delegation policies must be based on a risk assessment process developed by the department and specify restrictions as to dollar amount or specific types of goods and services. A number of state agencies are participating in a Risk Assessment Pilot to help Enterprise Services refine the processes and tools that will be used for determining risk levels and delegating authority to agencies.
Electronic submission of documents
Contractors and agencies will be allowed to submit bid documents and signatures electronically for ease of transaction. Enterprise Services is currently researching the options for electronic signatures.