1. What is Government Contracting?
2. How Does Contracting Work?
3. What Is a “Small” Business?
4. Washington State's Government Contract Spending
5. Finding Washington State Government Contract Opportunities
6. How to Get Started in Washington
7. Bonding and Bidding
8. Tips on Increasing Your Business' Competitiveness
9. Illegal Contracts Are Always Void in Washington State

Washington State government contracts are business agreements that the state of Washington makes with companies to buy their products or services. 

What is Government Contracting?

The United States government needs to purchase goods and services in order to function, just like any other entity, so they purchase products and services from businesses in the private sector.  Government contracts act as legally binding agreements between the government and the business they are purchasing from. 

How Does Contracting Work?

Agencies in the public sector work with contracting officers or specialists in procurement who make purchases for the agency.

A business will be chosen to enter into a contract based on the following:

  • Cost of products or services
  • Value of products or services
  • Business performance

In order to support small businesses in the United States, small business purchases are required to make up 23 percent of the Federal Government's purchases of products and services. 

What Is a “Small” Business?

Whether a business is considered a "small" business depends on how the SBA (Small Business Administration) classifies the company in the NAICS (North American Industrial Classification Specification). There's a specific limit for the income and employee numbers of a company in order for it to be considered a small business by the NAICS.

Washington State's Government Contract Spending

The state of Washington created over 60,000 bidding opportunities for small business and entered into over 40,000 contracts from 2015 to 2016. During the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year, the state budgeted $38.1 billion for the expenses in their general fund.

These are some of the biggest areas in which the state contracts with businesses:

  • Architecture
  • Engineering
  • Construction

A large portion of Washington State's spending goes toward healthcare and education.  As the state is focused on getting students ready for success, its agencies are constantly looking for products for the classroom. There are also plenty of opportunities for state government contracts for companies selling medical supplies and other services that pertain to the field of healthcare. 

Finding Washington State Government Contract Opportunities

Any business owner can search for contract opportunities through the Planned Procurement page on the WEBS (Washington's Electronic Business Solution) website

The WEBS database has information including:

  • Types of businesses needed by the government
  • How a business can secure a contract
  • Response and award deadlines

How to Get Started in Washington

Through the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services, business owners will first want to research which state agencies buy from small businesses and what products or services they need. They can visit the contracting and purchasing page to find any current bid opportunities for businesses

A business owner can post their company to different registries to get in the pool for contract awards with WEBS. Some companies will qualify for special categories like the OMWBE (Office of Minority & Women's Business Enterprise).

Bonding and Bidding

Some businesses need bonding to be allowed to bid on certain solicitations. SBA's Surety Bonding offers help with business bonding. Every agency has particular requirements for the businesses bidding on their contracts, so business owners can search for and bid on the contracts they think their company will be able to fill. 

Tips on Increasing Your Business' Competitiveness

Business owners can make their businesses more competitive in this market by attending workshops for business contracts. Sometimes agencies will actually reserve a specific number of contracts for small businesses with specific certifications. 

Government business liaisons and contract officers are great contacts for promoting a small business. Businesses can also work with the PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center's) to help them fulfill the necessary requirements to do business with the state. This organization's goal is to get more and more local businesses working with their state and federal governments. 

Illegal Contracts Are Always Void in Washington State

If a contract has any illegal elements, it becomes void and cannot be enforced by either party at any point. Contracts that involve illegal actions like the sale of illegal drugs or other activities will not hold up in court. Sometimes illegal contracts aren't very obvious. If a contract fails to meet the requirements for bidding or if it violates public policy it is technically illegal. 

If you need help with Washington State government contracts, you can post your job on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.