Washington State Procurement Manual

The Washington State Procurement Manual helps public procurement professionals use and manage contracts on behalf of their organizations. The tools and templates help agencies comply with state procurement laws and policies.

DES is the state’s procurement authority, and we update the documents and processes here as public procurement evolves.

Laws and policies

The following laws, executive orders, and policies establish DES and how the enterprise purchases goods and services:

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Resources for agencies and purchasers

  • Delegation of Authority - DES-090-00 - This policy applies whenever an agency purchases or leases goods and/or services. DES’ goal is to provide each agency with authority that is tailored to fulfill the agency’s mission.
  • Procurement risk assessment - DES determines each agency’s delegated authority and spending threshold based on the results of agency’s risk assessment. Each agency is required to submit information required for the risk assessment when DES requests it.
  • Manage, report and track agency contracts - Under RCW Chapter 39.26.210, we are required to collect data to promote contract transparency.
  • Contracts & procurement training - State agencies must require employees responsible for developing, executing, or managing procurements or contracts, or both, to complete DES contracts and procurement training including Ethics training under RCW Chapter 42.52 (specifically sections 020-180).
  • Contract liaison services - DES contract liaisons provide expert-level assistance to state agencies and higher education institutions that engage in large or complex procurements.
  • Small agency support – DES procurement staff help small agencies, boards, and commissions with contracts and procurement services.
  • Technology leasing program - DES helps state agencies and public higher education institutions lease technology equipment essential to serving Washingtonians.

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Purchasing methods process maps

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Statewide contracts

  • How to use statewide contracts – DES manages statewide contracts that leverage the state’s collective buying power to help agencies save money, reduce risk, and streamline purchasing. Agencies should use statewide contracts before any other procurement method.
  • Contract search tool – Search statewide contracts for goods and services that your organization needs to purchase.
  • Planned procurements – List of statewide contracts in development, information on the solicitation, the timeline, and point of contact.
  • Current commodity pricing – Current prices on specific commodities available on statewide contracts: dairy, fuel, and propane.
  • Buying vehicles – How to buy vehicles using statewide contracts.
  • IT professional services (ITPS) – Information regarding Information Technology professional services statewide contracts.
  • Language access – Information regarding language access contracts including interpreters, translation, and transcription services.
  • Cooperative agreements – DES is authorized to participate in, sponsor, conduct, or administer a cooperative purchasing agreement that is developed and awarded by another state through a cooperative purchasing agreement administered by a third-party (i.e., NASPO ValuePoint, Sourcewell, etc.).

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Considerations for all purchases

Purchasers should first check statewide contracts for any agency purchasing needs. If the agency needs to proceed with a procurement, purchasers should consider the following:

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Competitive procurements

A documented formal process providing equal and open opportunity to bidders and culminating in a selection based on predetermined criteria.

  • Competitive Procurement RCW Chapter 39.26.120
  • Competitive Procurement Tools & Resources – An overview of the procurement process and the tools and templates purchasers can use to conduct successful procurements. The procurement process is broken into phases and can include additional supporting documents that may be helpful for that phase of the process.
Phase 1 – Planning

Phase 1- Planning (4-6 weeks)

Once a business need has been identified, this is the first step in the process where you begin strategizing and planning. This is where you spend most of your time in the solicitation process. Steps covered in this phase include:

  • Defining what it is that you want to purchase
  • Checking whether a statewide contract is available
  • Determining best method for procuring the goods and/or services. (i.e., competitive procurement, sole source, direct buy, etc.)
  • Checking agency’s delegation of authority - see delegation of authority policy
  • Developing solicitation strategy
    • Collect signed confidentiality forms from solicitation development team members
    • Conduct request for information (if applicable)
    • Define solicitation schedule and scoring criteria
    • Identify any unique specifications or requirements, and/or cost factors
    • Determine the insurance requirements

Tools and templates that can assist you in this phase:

Phase 2 – Solicitation development

Phase 2- Solicitation development (1-3 weeks)

Once you have mostly finalized your procurement strategy in phase 1, you will begin drafting the solicitation documents based on your strategy. Steps covered in this phase include:

  • Begin drafting solicitation documents based on the strategy developed in the planning phase, focusing on:
    • The competitive solicitation/RFP
    • Exhibit B – Performance requirements
    • Exhibit C – Bid price/cost sheet
    • Exhibit D - Contract
  • Reviewing and signing off on final version
  • Small business/ vendor research

Tools and templates that can assist you in this phase:

  • Competitive solicitation
    This document is designed to be a template for agencies to use when performing a competitive solicitation to procure the goods and/or services needed.
  • Exhibit A-1 – Bidder’s certification
    This exhibit identifies information about the bidder and includes the required state certifications. Bidders complete and submit this exhibit as part of their bid in to constitute a responsive bid.
  • Exhibit A-2 – Bidder’s profile
    This exhibit identifies information about the bidder. Bidders complete and submit this exhibit as part of their bid to constitute a responsive bid.
  • Exhibit B – Performance requirements
    This exhibit outlines the required specifications/qualifications for the product and/or service that is the subject of the competitive solicitation. Bidders complete and submit this exhibit as part of their bid and agencies will use it to evaluate and compare the bids.
  • Exhibit C – Bid price
    This exhibit is designed to obtain pricing information in a uniform manner. Bidders complete and submit this exhibit as part of their bid helping agencies compare and score bid costs. Following are a few examples of bid price documents available as a starting point and may be customize for your needs.
  • Exhibit D – Contract
    This contract example includes general terms as well as terms specifically for services such as IT professional services. In addition, exhibit C of the contract includes the minimum insurance coverage requirements for vendors executing a contract with Washington state. However additional insurance coverage may be necessary depending on what products or services you are contracting for. Following is a document listing insurance coverage and when you may want to include them in your contract.
  • Exhibit D-1 – Contract issues list
    This exhibit is optional. Agencies may choose to include the exhibit or not as part of the solicitation documents. This exhibit can be used for bidders who have business concerns with the form of the contract to outline their issues and proposed resolution. Agencies always reserves the right not to modify the contract and to award the contract based on a bidder’s willingness to agree to the contract. It can also be helpful in identifying specific terms that may be inconsistent with the industry or trade.
Phase 3 – Posting

Phase 3- Posting solicitation (4-6 weeks)

During this phase, the procurement coordinator posts the final solicitation documents to WEBS, performs any additional outreach/communications promoting awareness, preparing for the pre-bid conference (if applicable), and beginning evaluation preparations. Steps covered in this phase include:

  • Posting solicitation to WEBS
  • Sending public announcement or notification of bid opportunity using other communication channels (OMWBE, Washington Apex Accelerator formally PTAC, etc.)
  • Preparing pre-bid conference presentation, if applicable
  • Monitoring and facilitating question and answer (Q&A) process and/or complaints
  • Posting responses to Q&A and amendments, if applicable
  • Identifying evaluation team, scheduling evaluator meetings, reviewing evaluator guidelines with team, and collecting certification forms from evaluators

Tools and templates that can assist you in this phase:

  • Bid opportunity advertisement template
    This document provides guidance as to how you can promote and advertise your solicitation in addition to posting it in WEBS.
  • Outreach communication example
    An example of an email for personalized communication to an interested party informing them of a posted solicitation.
  • Pre-bid conference
    This PowerPoint template is a guide for conducting a pre-bid conference and may be customized accordingly.
  • Question & answer template
    This template is used to formalize the question-and-answer process. Included in the template is a table to list the question, the response, and note if any solicitation documents that may have changed as a result.
  • Solicitation amendment template
    This template is used to document and communicate the amendments made to a solicitation and is posted on WEBS.
Phase 4 – Evaluation

Phase 4- Evaluation (2-3 weeks, depending on complexity)

Review and evaluate submitted bid proposals to determine the bidder(s) that will be deemed the apparent successful bidder. Steps covered in this phase include:

  • Receiving and processing bids
  • Performing responsiveness check
  • Facilitating evaluation process
  • Notifying rejected bidders
  • Performing/facilitating contract negotiations

Tools and templates that can assist you in this phase:

  • Bid tab template
    This excel document is used to track and record the responsiveness and evaluation scores to help in determining apparent successful bidder(s) (ASB)
  • Certification for evaluation team members
    This form is signed by each person involved in the evaluation process. This is to affirm the evaluator understands their obligation as an evaluator, the confidential nature of the process, that bids will be evaluated in a fair and equitable manner and affirm they or a family member does not have a financial interest with any firm submitting a bid.
  • Evaluation guidelines
    This document provides directions on how to evaluate bids. It covers the core elements for evaluating and determining the successful bidder(s) including responsiveness, cost factors, non-cost factors, and responsibility.
  • Evaluator instructions
    This document outlines the role and responsibilities of the evaluators.
  • Negotiation email template
    If applicable, this template can be used for initial negotiations with bidder(s) prior to ASB.
  • Presentation and demonstration templates/examples
    In the event your evaluation process includes oral interviews, virtual presentations and/or demonstrations, below are a couple examples that may be customized to meet your needs.
  • Reference check form
    This form is designed to streamline the process of checking references and to help increase the likelihood of getting responses. Questions may be customized for your needs and then emailed to the contact listed for each reference.
  • Rejection letter
    This document is a template used to notify bidders if their bid is rejected for non-responsiveness and informs the bidder the reasons why their bid was rejected.
Phase 5 – ASB and award

Phase 5- Announce ASB and award (1 week)

Announce the apparent successful bidder(s) based on the evaluation process in Phase 4. Following the protest period, agency can then execute the contract. Steps covered in this phase include:

  • Announcing the apparent successful bidder(s) (ASB) via WEBS
  • Conducting debriefs, if requested
  • Completing contract for ASB vendor
  • Obtaining vendor’s signature on contract
  • Facilitating agency’s signing contract
  • Announcing the awarded vendor and updating WEBS

Tools and templates that can assist you in this phase:

  • Announcing ASB
    This document outlines the process for announcement of the apparent successful bidder (ASB).
  • Complaint and protest policy DES-170-00
    In addition to complaints and protests, this policy also addresses the topic of debrief conferences.
  • Debrief guidelines
    This document is intended to provide guidance on how to conduct a debrief conference, if requested, after announcement of apparent successful bidder (ASB).
  • Debrief talking points
    This document provides a sample of discussion points that may be helpful when conducting a debrief conference.
Phase 6 – Contract management

Phase 6- Contract management (ongoing)

This phase addresses the contract management functions and record retention processes applicable to your agency. Steps covered in this phase include:

  • Sending copy of executed contract to vendor
  • Filing executed contract and procurement documents according to agency’s policies and procedures.

Tools and templates that can assist you in this phase:

  • State government records retention schedules - This document outlines the minimum requirements for procurement records retention.
  • Contract management policy - DES-080-02 - This policy outlines minimum requirement for contract management and provides related procedures and tools to help agencies successfully manage their contracts.
  • Contract Onboarding and Management - This document provides helpful steps to help transition the contract from the procurement team to the program contract manager that will be responsible for managing the resulting contract.
  • Post & manage solicitations on Washington’s Electronic Business Solution (WEBS): WEBS allows government agencies and nonprofits to post opportunities for businesses looking to work with the state.

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Competitive procurement exceptions

Under RCW Chapter 39.26.125, these are the most common procurement methods that are exempt from the traditional competitive process:

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Sole source

An agency can consider a sole source exemption when there is a contractor that provides goods or services of such a unique nature or sole availability at the location required that the contractor is clearly and justifiable the only practicable source to provide the goods of services.

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Direct buy

Direct buys are purchases of goods and/or services less than $30,000, or less than $40,000 if the purchase is from a small or veteran-owned business.

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Emergency contracts

An emergency purchase is made in response to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the agency that: present a real, immediate, and extreme threat to the proper performance of essential functions; or may reasonably be expected to result in material loss or damage to property, bodily injury, or loss of life, if immediate action is not taken.

Agencies that make an emergency purchase must:

  • File the emergency contract in the Sole source contracts database within 3 working days after start of work date for DES review.
  • Send written notification to the DES Director within 3 business days of the purchase.
  • Make the contract available for public inspection on the agency’s website within 3 business days of the purchase.

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Interagency agreements

An interagency agreement is a contract between two government organizations that unites them under terms and conditions to achieve a common goal.

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Client services contracts

Client services are provided directly to an agency’s clients including, but not limited to, medical and dental services, employment and training programs, residential care, and subsidized housing. Clients are people whom the agency has a statutory responsibility to serve, protect, or oversee.

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Convenience contracts

A convenience contract can be used when a specific agency or specific group of agencies require specific goods or services from time to time and there is not a statewide contract available. Convenience contracts can establish a pool of vendors and outline selection criteria for how the agency will choose vendors or spread the work among the multiple vendors on a contract (i.e., rotating basis, etc.). Convenience contracts are not for general use and are currently being approved by DES.

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Contract management

Agencies must measure and ensure contractors’ compliance with the terms and requirements of contracts.

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Procurement guidance/FAQ

This a list of questions and guidance DES has provided to agencies. This list will be updated as needed.

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