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Construction (Public Works) - Process

The terms ‘construction’ and ‘public works’ are used synonymously and interchangeably. ‘Public works’ as used here is as defined by RCW 39.040.010 and WAC 296-127-010 and refers collectively to the various work of the trades and of construction services and includes the related materials, supplies and equipment associated with the public work project or improvement. As an example, a public work includes installation services like plumbing, HVAC, electrician, drywall finishing, carpet laying, carpentry, concrete work, steel work, office remodeling, painting, roofing, fencing, parking lot re-paving, and it may also include the outright construction of an entire building. Public works as the term is used here on the Purchasing Department’s web pages does not include anything related to roads and bridges which are handled separately by the County’s Public Works Department. The work of roads and bridges is a ‘public work’ by statutory definition and it is handled by the County Public Works Department (formerly known as the County Engineer and the Roads Department).

The authority of the Spokane County Purchasing Department to purchase construction/public works projects as defined on this page is found in Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 36.32.235, 36.32.250 and RCW Chapter 39.04. and in Spokane County Code 1.04.070 and 1.04.075, as well as, in County Code Chapter 1.04. These laws authorize two approaches to procuring public works which may be broadly identified as: 

  1. A ‘formal’ process (more appropriately referred to as ‘formal, advertised, sealed competitive responses opened at a public bid opening or public meeting’); and
  2. An ‘informal’ process (more appropriately referred to as the small works roster process). 

The U.S. marketplace offers hundreds of thousands of varieties of products and services. At the highest level, state law breaks down this vast array of products and services into four broad classifications as: (a) Materials Supplies and Equipment (‘Goods’); (b) Public Works; (c) A/E Services; and (d) Services (i.e., all services other than A/E Services). U.S. industry and commerce uses various code systems to further subdivide these four broad classifications into distinct product and services classifications or categories. As an example only, two code systems generally accepted and used in industry and commerce are the Standard Industrial Classification (or SIC) and the North American Industry Classification System (or NAICS).

The code system adapted and used by the Spokane County Purchasing Department is called the NIGP Code, which is also commonly used by many state and local governments. The Spokane County Purchasing Department uses its adapted version of the NIGP Code to: (i) offer subscription services at the category level via this website to alert interested parties (subject to restrictions and limitations) whenever competitive solicitations are posted or changed; and (ii) classify at the item level its competitive solicitations.


The word ‘formal’ as used here refers to a competitive solicitation process for public works that meets and involves the criteria set forth for competitive bidding in RCW 36.32.235 and RCW Chapter 39.04, and in County Code 1.04.050(5)(a), including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

  1.  RCW does not set a value threshold for formal advertised sealed bidding of public works, and despite that fact that RCW 39.04.155 permits an informal process for public works projects valued up to the maximum value set forth in RCW 39.04.155, the County may nonetheless choose to go the route of a formal advertised sealed bid for any specific project if the County believes that doing so is in the best interest of the. A project solicited under the small works roster process is an informal public works project.
  2. Is advertisement for at least 13 days prior to the competitive solicitation due date (or Bid Opening); and
  3. Requires that all responses/submittals are sealed and properly identified and addressed in an opaque package or envelope; and
  4. The competitive solicitation is subject to being publicly opened and read aloud on the appointed day and time (Public Bid Opening); and
  5. The competitive solicitation is subject to the provisions, terms, and conditions, contained or referenced in the particular competitive solicitation document for the procurement.

The criteria listed here is subject to change in the event that the Washington State Legislature amends RCW 36.32.235, RCW Chapter 39.04 or any other relevant and pertinent laws.

  1. Spokane County WA Homepage

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    1211 W Gardner Avenue, 2nd Floor
    Spokane, WA  99260

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