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Purchasing, Procurement and Contracting Summary for Small Agencies

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Procurement Reform

Understand 

All procurement laws, rules and policies are intended to achieve sound stewardship of government resources.  It is the expectation of the state that agencies exercise diligence and sound professional judgement in the pursuit of best value purchases.  Agency heads are responsible for ensuring their agency complies with RCW 39.26.   Important elements in procurement include:

  1. Master Contracts
  2. Direct Purchasing
  3. Competitive Solicitation
  4. Sole Source Contracts
  5. Emergency Procurements/Purchases
  6. Delegation of Authority

Master Contracts – Qualified Master Contracts are the primary tool agencies should look to when deciding where to purchase goods and services.  Cooperative purchasing through state contracts provides organizations the opportunity to save money by pooling resources to leverage the market through volume discounts. Authorized organizations are provided access to over 1,500 vendors supplying goods and services through master contracts to meet all the business needs of their organization.

Purchasing from Washington State Contracts

Master Contract Search Tool

Direct Purchasing - Agencies must use existing “qualified master contracts” before engaging in a direct buy. Only when an existing qualified master contract cannot justifiably satisfy agency needs may the agency make a direct buy purchase.  Agencies are authorized to purchase goods and services up to a cost of $10,000 (excluding sales tax) directly from a vendor and without competition. In addition, agencies are authorized to purchase goods and services up to a cost of $13,000 (excluding sales tax) directly from a vendor and without competition if the purchase is being made from a microbusiness, mini-business, or small business.  Unless otherwise exempt, procurements that exceed the direct buy limit must be competitively awarded, unless otherwise exempt from competition.  Agencies may not unbundle or manipulate a purchase to have the purchase qualify as a direct buy procurement to avoid using a competitive process.

Direct Buy Procurements/Purchases Policy

Competitive Solicitation - Competition is sound public policy and generally required for the purchase of goods and services not available on a “Qualified Master Contract” or in excess of the “Direct Buy” threshold.  Competition is a powerful tool for garnering the highest value from Bidders at the most reasonable price by.  DES is ready to assist agencies with all aspects of the competitive contracting process.

Competitive Contracting

Procurement and Contract Training

Samples and Forms

Sole Source Contracts – Sometimes competition is not available and in such cases purchasing may be made without competition. The purchasing activity must be able to demonstrate that the purchase is solely and legitimately available from only one vendor.  Unless otherwise exempt, no sole source contract will be binding unless it is approved by DES.

Sole Source Contracts Policy

Emergency Procurements/Purchases – Agencies may make emergency purchases in response to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the Purchasing Activity which present a real, immediate, and extreme threat to the proper performance of essential functions or which may reasonably be expected to result in excessive loss or damage to property, bodily injury, or loss of life.

Emergency Procurements/Purchases Policy

Delegated Authority - The Director of DES is charged with establishing policies for delegating authority to state agencies. Unless otherwise exempted by law, agencies are delegated authority for the procurement of goods and services according to the criteria outlined in the table below.  Agencies must notify DES in advance regarding procurements that may exceed the agency’s delegated authority.  Agencies have unlimited delegated authority when purchasing directly from a “qualified master contract”.

Delegation of Authority Policy

Agency Size - Less than 50 FTEs

Commodities (projected amount per purchase event) -$50,000

Services (projected amount of initial contract term) - $50,000

Information Technology (projected amount of the initial contract term) - $50,000

Agency Size - 50 - 200 FTEs

Commodities (projected amount per purchase event) -$50,000

Services (projected amount of initial contract term) - $250,000

Information Technology (projected amount of the initial contract term) - $250,000

Take Action

Training:

  • WA State IT Procurement Authorizing and Operating Environment
  • WA State Contract Management 101
  • WA State Purchasing and Procurement 101
  • WA State Small Purchases
  • WA State Purchasing and Procurement Ethics
  • WA State Executive Management Purchasing and Procurement
  • Washington's Electronic Business Solution (WEBS) training

Good Stewardship:

  • Establish processes and systems to comply with these requirements and to take advantage of best practices.
  • State employees involved in purchasing and contracting are held to higher ethical standards than other state employees in some instances.  Employees should familiarize themselves with the applicable statutes and their agency’s policies whenever they are involved in any purchases or contracting on behalf of the state.
  • Document agency purchasing decisions, including price competitiveness, and include such documentation in purchasing records where appropriate.