December 11, 2014

Washington State Legislature Approves Electronic Bidding for State Public Works Projects

By Sarah S. Washburn

In April 2014, the Washington State Legislature approved Substitute House Bill 1841, which authorizes state agencies to conduct public works competitive bidding processes electronically and accept electronic signatures in such processes.

The new law was codified as Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 39.04.390 and became effective on June 12, 2014. It applies only to state agencies, and does not apply to local governments such as cities, counties, school districts, or port districts because most laws that apply to local agencies require submission of “sealed bids” for public works projects, and thus electronic bidding is not permitted for local agencies. “State agency” for purposes of the new law includes “any state office or activity of the executive and judicial branches of state government, including state departments, offices, divisions, boards, commissions, institutions of higher education as defined in RCW 28B.10.016, and correctional and other types of institutions.” The law defines an electronic signature as “a signature in electronic form attached to or logically associated with an electronic record.” Under the new law, the state is required to develop standards and policies for electronic submission of public works bids.