SHB 1502
C 224 L 21
Synopsis as Enacted
Brief Description: Concerning the procurement and design of electric ferries by counties.
Sponsors: House Committee on Transportation (originally sponsored by Representatives Wylie, Griffey, Ramel, Paul, Lekanoff, Berry, Ortiz-Self, Hackney, Harris-Talley and Pollet).
House Committee on Transportation
Senate Committee on Transportation

Generally, public agencies, including counties, are required to contract on a competitive basis for public works and award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder.

Before the award of a public works contract, a bidder must meet responsibility criteria to be qualified to be awarded a public works project.  The bidder must:

  • be a registered contractor;
  • have a current state Unified Business Identifier number;
  • have applicable industrial insurance coverage, an Employment Security Department number, and a state excise tax registration number;
  • not be disqualified from bidding due to previous noncompliance with registration or prevailing wage requirements;
  • not have been found out of compliance with apprenticeship utilization requirements, if subject to those requirements;
  • have received training on prevailing wage requirements; and
  • have no findings of violation of wage payment laws in the previous three years.


The awarding agency or jurisdiction may adopt supplemental criteria for determining bidder responsibility.  The supplemental criteria, the basis for evaluation against that criteria, and deadlines for appeal must be provided in the invitation to bid or bidding documents.


Generally, public agencies, including local jurisdictions, are required to have the approval of the Capital Project Advisory Review Board before pursuing the alternative contracting procedures known as design-build and general contractor/construction manager, which allow selection of a contractor based on factors other than low bid.


Competitive negotiation is permitted for public agencies when contracting for electronic data processing and telecommunication systems.  This process allows the selection of the bidder whose proposal is the most advantageous to the project sponsor based on price and other factors.


The Public Records Act requires state and local agencies to make their written records available to the public for inspection and copying upon request unless the information fits into one of the various specific exemptions under the act.  Financial information supplied in a bid or proposal for state ferry or highway construction or as part of alternative public contracting procedures is exempt from disclosure.


To increase small business participation, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Office of Equal Opportunity operates a small business enforceable goals program.  As part of this program, the WSDOT must establish contract goals for state ferry vessel procurement.  The program sets and enforces contract goals for prime contractor subcontracts with small businesses.  Small business enterprises intending to benefit from the program must have 50 or fewer employees or gross revenues less than $7 million or be certified by the Office of Minority and Women's Business Enterprises.


A county is permitted to use additional competitive bidding procedures for procurement and design of electric ferries.

After bids are submitted, a county may:

  • reject all bids and rebid or cancel the competitive solicitation;
  • request best and final offers from responsive and responsible bidders;
  • award the purchase or contract to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder;
  • award one or more contracts from a competitive solicitation; and
  • enter negotiations with the lowest responsive bidder to determine if a bid may be improved.


The determination of a responsible bidder must consider:

  • the ability, capacity, and skill of the bidder to perform the contract or provide the service required;
  • the character, integrity, reputation, judgment, experience, and efficiency of the bidder;
  • the bidder's ability to perform the contract within the time specified;
  • the quality of performance on previous contracts;
  • compliance by the bidder with laws relating to the contract or services;
  • any bidder violations of wage payment in the last three years; and
  • other information which may have bearing on the decision to award the contract.


Due to the unique aspects of electric ferry design and the importance of well-integrated ship and shore equipment, the county may consider best value criteria in determining the lowest responsive and responsible bidder:

  • the needs of the county as specified in the solicitation documents;
  • diverse contractor participation;
  • competitive pricing, economies, and efficiencies;
  • human health and environmental impacts;
  • appropriate weighting of cost and non-cost considerations;
  • life-cycle cost;
  • project manager capabilities, including subcontractor management;
  • proposed approach to overall project plan, including integration, commissioning, and acceptance testing; and
  • demonstrated contractor and subcontractor technical knowledge and capabilities to meet technical elements of the design specified in the bid documents.


The bid solicitation must clearly set forth the requirements and criteria that the contract will apply in evaluating bid submissions. 


Trade secrets or other proprietary information submitted by a bidder in connection with electric ferry design and procurement are exempt from public disclosure if the bidder specifically states in writing the reason for protection from disclosure and identifies the data to be protected and the county agrees that such protection is necessary.  All documents are exempted from disclosure until the bid award is made or the selection process is terminated.


Where critical equipment selections may be made to reduce cost and performance risk, the solicitation may identify specific equipment and vendors without allowing substitutions. 


A county may designate a public works department as the lead agency for the design and procurement of electric ferries.


To increase small business participation in ferry vessel procurement, the WSDOT's Office of Equal Opportunity must establish contract goals for county electric ferry vessel procurement.  The contract goal is defined as a percentage of the contract award amount that the prime contractor must meet by subcontracting with small business enterprises.  Small business enterprises intending to benefit from the program must have 50 or fewer employees or gross revenues less than $7 million or be certified by the Office of Minority and Women's Business Enterprises.

Votes on Final Passage:
House 93 3
Senate 48 0

July 25, 2021