Purchasing Policies

Whatcom County Purchasing Thresholds

Whatcom County Purchasing Policy Highlights

In addition to the following highlights to the Whatcom County Purchasing Policy, refer to the Purchasing Thresholds link above for more detailed breakdown by procurement type.

  1. All purchases: All purchases of goods and services must follow the bid requirements established by the Whatcom County Code. Purchases may not be split to avoid bid requirements. All bid limits expressed as dollar values include sales tax and freight.
  2. Purchases less than $2,500: No formal bid procedures are required. However, it is Whatcom County´s policy to purchase supplies, equipment and services of the necessary quality at the lowest possible cost.
  3. Purchases between $10,000 and $40,000: At least 3 vendors shall be contacted to determine the best source for the purchase. Quotes can be obtained from interested vendors in writing or verbally. All quotes shall be documented on the purchase requisition (each quote including vendor name, vendor contact name, date, and telephone number) and submitted to the Purchasing Section of the Administrative Services Department (AS/Purchasing).
  4. Purchases in excess of $40,000: Formal bid procedures, as outlined in Section II. below, shall be performed. There are exceptions to the formal bid process, which are:
    1. Declaration of an emergency by the County Executive.
    2. Purchases from other governments.
    3. Purchase made upon the authority of another governments bid award. To participate in another governments bid, and interlocal agreement between the governments must be in place.
    4. Sole source provider. When only 1 source is available to purchase a particular product or service, bidding procedures are not necessary. This situation is rare. If an item or service is clearly unique and another item or service cannot be substituted, then the purchase may qualify for the sole source exclusion. Requests for sole source purchases must be submitted to AS/Purchasing for consideration.
  5. Professional services in excess of $40,000 (exception for those services included in RCW 39.80, which requires a RFQ at any threshold): A request for proposals (RFP) or a request for statements of qualification (RFQ) will be issued for all professional service contracts which exceed $40,000. Professional services include, but are not limited to, services from architects, engineers, attorneys, physicians, trainers, planners and systems designers, and management, financial or labor relations consultants. Exceptions to the RFP process are:
    1. Emergencies declared by the County Executive.
    2. Acquisition of services from other public entities.
    3. When the County Council, upon the recommendation of the County Executive, finds that a waiver of the bid requirement will be in the best interest of Whatcom County.
  6. Professional services less than $10,000: Price quotes are not required for professional service contracts for amounts less than $10,000.
  7. RFPs for services or for technologically complex equipment: The County may issue requests for proposals (RFP) or requests for statements of qualification (RFQ) for services, or RFP's for technologically complex equipment such as computers, software, or telephone systems. Proposals submitted will not be public information until after award to the successful proposer.
  8. Award
    1. Award to the low bidder: Any or all bids may be rejected for good cause. If all bids are not rejected, the award shall be to the lowest responsible bidder. In determining which is the lowest responsible bidder, the county may take into consideration the bidders responsiveness to the county's requirements, the quality Public work: Public work is defined in RCW 39.04.010. Any of the articles to be purchased or leased, availability of parts and service, delivery time, and the tax revenue the county would receive from purchasing from a supplier located within its boundaries.
    2. Award to multiple bidders: The county may award to multiple bidders for the same commodity or service when the bid specifications provide for special circumstances in the determination of which vendor is truly the lowest price to the county. Special circumstances may include differences in ability to deliver, delivery time, availability of material, special loading or unloading conditions, total cost including transport or labor if not included with bid item, performance of the delivered material, location of the source, and proximity to the delivery point.
    3. Award to the highest rated proposal: In the case of RFP's or RFQ's for services, and RFP's for technologically complex equipment, if all proposals are not rejected, the award shall be to the highest rated proposal, taking into account the selection criteria. construction or improvement of real property or buildings paid for with public funds is public work, and must comply with numerous special requirements as specified in State and County law. For example, a bid deposit and contractors bond is required, contractors must be licensed, and prevailing wages must be paid. Call ADS / Purchasing or a civil deputy prosecuting attorney for more detail if necessary to determine whether or not a proposed project is Public Work.