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Small Works Rosters Are Changing: Are You Ready?

The word unprepared with 'un' crossed out

The Washington State Legislature passed Second Substitute House Bill 5268 in 2023, modifying small works contracting requirements for state agencies and local government (i.e., all agencies and political subdivisions of the state with public works contracting authority). These changes were discussed in Part 1 of my blog series focused on 2023 procurement legislation.

With the start of the new year, this is the six months mark before these changes occur (July 1, 2024). This blog will provide agencies with information to help them successfully prepare.

What Is a Small Works Roster?

A small works roster is a list of qualified, licensed contractors utilized by contracting agencies for small public works construction projects costing $350,000 or less.

The small works rosters process is a popular procurement tool for contracting agencies as it is less restrictive and time-consuming than a full, formal competitive bid process for a public works project. “Small works roster” statutes for state and local government provide separate authority from rosters created for non-public work rosters a government agency may establish for products or services. These rosters for products or services are commonly referred to as “Vendor” or “Consultant” rosters.

A small works roster may make distinctions between contractors based upon different geographic areas served by the contractor. With a small works bid, an informal process occurs when an agency issues an invitation to the appropriate number of contractors to bid (based on the estimated dollar value) and awards the contract to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. For more details on this process, visit MRSC’s Small Public Works Rosters webpage.

2023 Legislative Changes to the Small Works Roster

Small works roster changes effective next year include:

  • The establishment of a statewide roster through the MRSC Rosters program,
  • The creation of a new Public Works Small Business Enterprise (PWSBE) Certification Program through the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise (OMWBE), and
  • An updated solicitation process, including an option for direct contracting.

State and local governments may create an independent small works roster or multiple agencies may use the same independent roster through an interlocal agreement. Multiple agencies may also use a roster services provider such as MRSC Rosters. DES strongly encourages agencies to use this option in order to promote administrative efficiency for both agencies and contractors.

State agencies and local governments will need to determine which small works roster option they intend to utilize before July 1, 2024. After this date, all state and local government agencies will be expected to utilize a small works rosters option that incorporates these changes.

Let’s look at the independent roster and the statewide roster options.

Independent roster (individual or through an interlocal agreement)

An independent small works roster could be established by a single agency, or several agencies can utilize a single roster through interlocal agreement. This independent roster must be able to:

  • Integrate PWSBE certification data;
  • Set up and collect demographic data for participating contractors;
  • Send an annual notice to a participating agency’s paper of record;
  • Conduct outreach to OMWBE-certified businesses;
  • Follow Department of Enterprise Services (DES) rules (WAC 200-330) on rotation, outreach, and data collection (once published); and
  • Review the revised MRSC Small Works Roster Manual (once published).

State and local agencies that do not plan to switch to a statewide roster must ensure that their independent roster meets the requirements above. 

Statewide roster (MRSC Rosters)

State and local agencies can sign up to become part of MRSC Rosters — which already contracts with over 600 public agencies across the state — and begin using this service immediately. MRSC Rosters can ease this transition with our online assistance (including a downloadable sample resolution to help your agency discontinue use of a previously used rosters), contracting resources, rosters overview webinar, legal notice affidavits, and — for an additional fee — an electronic bidding program. Interested agencies can also review a list of registered businesses as well.

MRSC Rosters is currently updating its program to meet the new requirements outlined in the statute, such as the ability to filter the rosters database by location and specialty, as well as any/all requirements that independent roster programs must meet.

State and local agencies that are existing MRSC Rosters members should do the following two items to prepare for changes to the small works rosters program:

Conclusion and Resources

To start the new year, I leave you with a quote from the Alexander Graham Bell: “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

Here are some additional resources to assist your agency in preparing for these changes:

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

Photo of Josh Klika

About Josh Klika

Josh joined MRSC in October 2021 as a Procurement and Contracting Consultant. Josh has a broad public procurement background with over 20 years in state and local governments. In addition to holding roles in procurement at multiple agencies at the State of Washington, most recently Josh worked as Contracts and Procurement Program Manager for the City of Olympia.

Josh has also served as a recurring panelist, facilitator, and presenter on numerous topics relating to procurement and contracting for various professional organizations. He currently holds a Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) through the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC), a NIGP Certified Procurement Professional (NIGP-CPP) certification, and a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (LSSGB) through the University of Washington.