Proposal creates procurement pool for certified small contractors and suppliers
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous approval to legislation creating more opportunities for small businesses to be prime consultants or suppliers for King County.
“Small businesses form the backbone of our regional economy, and this initiative will enhance opportunities for small businesses to effectively compete for county business and create jobs,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, prime sponsor of the ordinance. “Increasing opportunities for small businesses strengthens our economy and benefits King County by promoting competition in order to drive down costs.”
“In this current economic climate, small companies are seeing business opportunities shrink,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett, a co-sponsor of the ordinance. “This legislation provides those companies with the ability to contract with the County in a number of areas and those contracts could be the difference between continuing to stay in business or having to close their doors.”
Amending the King County Code and the Contracting Opportunities Program (COP), the adopted ordinance reserves a portion of King County's procurement of certain goods and technical/nonprofessional services for certified small contractors and suppliers. The goal of COP is to ensure that a portion of King County’s business purchasing goods and services, consulting services and construction projects goes to small businesses.
In September 2010, Phillips sponsored legislation requesting a study to determine if the County could create a small business set-aside program. The study found that set-asides are allowed by County Code without conflicting with state law for goods acquired for the former Metro agencies of Transit and Wastewater and for technical services for any county department.
The new program will apply to purchases of $25,000 or more and would involve the purchase of goods for King County's Wastewater Treatment and Transit divisions. Examples of goods that could be acquired under the new initiative include cleaning supplies for Metro buses or plumbing supplies for in-house repairs by Wastewater. Examples of technical services purchased by any county department that qualify include conducting a customer service survey, contracting for management consultants, and small equipment repairs.
County agencies will identify opportunities for small firms on a case-by-case basis. The reserved procurement approach will only be an option when a sufficient number of certified small contractors and suppliers are available for a specific good or technical service to ensure that the County will get a competitive price. It will also apply when the Director of the Finance and Business Operations Division determines it is in the best interests of the County.
Only King County certified small business would be eligible to participate in the program. Becoming a certified small business is a very simple, streamlined process and has options to preserve the owner’s financial privacy. The legislation is part of the continuing effort by the Council and the County Executive to create more opportunities for small business owners through streamlining the County’s procurement process to make it more user-friendly.