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New Public Works Guidance from MRSC

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It’s been a busy year for MRSC’s procurement programs!

In addition to recent improvements to our Find Your Contracting Requirements tool, we’ve also just wrapped up the first year of our Digging Into Public Works program, created in partnership with the state Department of Commerce and the Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), an Apex Accelerator.

As part of Digging Into Public Works, we conducted seven in-person training forums around the state for local government public works staff, additional in-person events connecting local businesses with public agencies, and several webinars.

The final component of this first year of Digging Into Public Works is the publication of several new and updated resources for local government public works contracting. Here’s a quick summary.

Public Works Contracting: Best Practices Manual

Our Public Works Contracting: Best Practices manual is a new publication intended to supplement MRSC’s other public works procurement guidance. While our other guidance tends to focus on the RCWs and legal requirements, this manual focuses mostly on helpful tips and best practices that go beyond the requirements found in state law. These tips are primarily focused on the traditional low bid or “design-bid-build” model, although other contracting methods are mentioned.

Examples of these topics include:

  • Understanding internal procurement roles and responsibilities, including the importance of ethics and avoiding conflicts of interest.
  • How to advertise to get a larger bidding pool.
  • How to avoid potential pitfalls during bid receipt, opening, and evaluation to reduce the likelihood of bid protests.
  • Potentially tricky situations such as bid irregularities, bid calculation errors, illegible bid prices, and unbalanced bids.
  • Deeper dives into various bidding documents, including the advertisement for bids, instructions to bidders, and addenda.
  • Information on contract award and administration, including bid bonds, performance and payment bonds, insurance, payment schedules, and change orders.
  • And much more!

We partnered with two external contributors on this publication: Mike Purdy is the principal author, and additional contributions were made by Aleanna Kondelis.

Download Public Works Contracting: Best Practices.

Making Your Public Works Contracts More Inclusive

Making Your Public Works Contracts More Inclusive is a short nine-page document that discusses how to attract a broader pool of bidders. More bidders means more competition, which can lead to better pricing and allow your local government funds to stretch further.

Topics discussed include:

  • How to engage your bidding community to better understand the businesses, the type of work they do and how they prefer to do it, and potential obstacles they face working with your agency;
  • Creating a comprehensive scope of work to help potential bidders better understand your project;
  • Using plain language to make sure the project requirements and expectations are easy to understand; and
  • Tracking and reporting information to help you evaluate your agency’s success and make future improvements to your procurement processes

Written by Aleanna Kondelis as a companion piece for our Digging Into Public Works regional training series.

Download Making Your Public Works Contracts More Inclusive.

Small Works Roster Manual

MRSC’s Small Works Roster Manual has been around for a number of years, but our own Procurement & Contracting Consultant Josh Klika has made some updates to reflect several recent legislative changes, including the sections on SB 5268, which increases the roster thresholds for ports and irrigation districts to $350,000 to match other types of local governments.

However, we will be making additional changes to this publication in the next year to reflect the remainder of SB 5268 that takes effect July 1, 2024. For a quick summary of those upcoming changes, including expanding the number of roster-authorized agencies and designating MRSC Rosters as the statewide roster, see 2023 Legislative Session Outcomes for Procurement and Contracting, Part 1.

Download the Small Works Roster manual.

Stay Tuned for More Changes in 2023-25

All publications discussed in the blog are also available on our Digging Into Public Works page, but we’re not done yet.

MRSC has received additional state funding to continue our public works programs for the next two years, which will include additional training events and publication improvements. And as mentioned earlier, we will be significantly revamping our small works roster manual to reflect the legislative changes taking effect on July 1, 2024. Stay tuned.



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.

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About Steve Hawley

Steve joined MRSC in July 2014 and is responsible for writing, editing, and conducting research for many of MRSC’s website resources, with a particular focus on local government finance, budgeting, ballot measures, and procurement. He has a broad communications and public policy background with over a decade of local government and nonprofit experience.
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