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Purchasing and Contracting - Table of Contents

This page provides links to all of MRSC's resources related to purchasing, bidding, and contracting for local governments in Washington State.

Your Statutory Requirements

  • Find Your Contracting Requirements – Interactive tool to help you identify your agency's statutory competitive bidding requirements for any type of project; simply select your project type and agency type.

General Information

  • Contracting and Competitive Bidding – Basic overview of contracting requirements, including types of projects, bid limits and different levels of competition, federally funded projects, and conflicts of interest.
  • Procurement Policy Guidelines – Guidelines to help local agencies adopt and update their procurement policies, and examples of policies adopted by other jurisdictions.
  • Competitive Bidding Exemptions – Information about situations when competitive bidding may be waived, such as emergencies, sole source purchases, special facilities or market conditions, auctions, and more.


  • Personal Services Contracts – Overview of bidding procedures for "personal services," which are mostly intellectual in nature (such as consultants or legal services) and do not include architecture and engineering services.
  • Purchased Services Contracts – Overview of bidding procedures for "purchased services," which are usually repetitive, routine, or mechanical in nature, support the agency's day-to-day operations, and involve minimal decision-making (such as herbicide application or recycling pickup)
  • Professional Architecture and Engineering Service Contracts – Overview of qualifications-based selection (QBS) process when contracting for professional architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, or surveying services.
  • Also see our Contracting for Services publication and Personal Services Contracting Manual for Ports below under Publications.


Public Works

  • Public Works Contracts – Brief overview of traditional design-bid-build public works contracting, including public works vs. ordinary maintenance
  • Unit-Priced ("On-Call") Public Works Contracts – Overview of unit-priced ("on-call") public works contracts, including definitions, eligibility, bid advertisement and award, and prevailing wages.
  • Alternative Public Works Contracting Methods – Basic overview of design-build, general contractor/construction manager (GC/CM), and job order contracting (JOC)
  • Prevailing Wages – Overview of prevailing wage requirements for public works and building service maintenance contracts, including links to current wage rates, intents and affidavits, and common mistakes.
  • Sales and Use Taxes in Public Works – Discussion of sales and use tax requirements and exemptions in public works contracting.
  • Guarantees, Bonds, and Retainage – Overview of bid guarantees (bid bonds), retainage and retainage bonds, and performance and payment bonds.
  • Small Public Works Rosters – Overview of small works roster projects, including eligibility, procedures, and limited public works processes. Also see our Small Works Roster Manual below under Publications.
  • Before You Advertise a Public Works Contract – Overview of the basic steps an agency should take before advertising, including plans, specifications, cost estimates, and contract administration plans.
  • Bidding and Awarding a Public Works Contract – Overview of the bidding and award process, including responsive bids, responsible bidders, notice of award, notice to proceed, bid protests, and proof of insurance.
  • Public Works Project Closeout – Required steps to officially complete a public works project, including various degrees of completion, physical acceptance, retainage release, and document retention.
  • Intergovernmental Cooperation in Public Works – Examples of interlocal agreements for public works projects


​MRSC has written several detailed and downloadable PDF publications regarding purchasing and contracting:

  • City Bidding Book – Addresses competitive bidding requirements and processes for purchases, services, and public works contracts.
  • County Bidding Book – Addresses competitive bidding requirements and processes for purchases, services, and public works contracts.
  • Small Works Roster: A Guide for Local Governments – Comprehensive overview of small works rosters, including maintenance vs. public works, bid limits, shared rosters, sales tax issues, prevailing wages, checklists and quick tips, and much more.
  • Public Works Contracting Best Practices – Detailed publication provides helpful tips for public works contracting, focused primarily on the traditional design-bid-build model. Addresses ethics, competition, bid documents, contract award and administration, potential pitfalls, and more.
  • Contracting for Services – Guidance on selecting architectural and engineering consultants under chapter 39.80 RCW and on contracting for personal and purchased services.
  • Personal Services Contracting Manual for Ports – Addresses personal services contracting requirements for port districts in chapter 53.19 RCW, adopted by the state legislature in 2008.
  • Conservation District Handbook - Guidelines for Purchasing, Bidding, and Contracting – Includes general guidance for procuring goods, services, and public works, as well as prevailing wage considerations unique to such districts

Recent Blog Posts

  • Recent blog posts about purchasing & contracting – Articles written by MRSC staff and contributors about specific aspects of purchasing and contracting, including best practices and new legislation. Articles are listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent first.

Sample Documents

Training Opportunities

MRSC periodically produces webinars and in-person training workshops on various purchasing and contracting topics. For a list of all our upcoming events, see our Upcoming Trainings page.

Last Modified: April 16, 2024