Thinking of ‘piggybacking?’ First check out this new guide on the practice

Mother giving her daughter piggyback ride

If you are a local government in Washington state, you may be aware of RCW 39.34.030, which allows governments to use other agencies’ contracts to buy goods and services – also called “piggybacking.” But what you might not be aware of are the potential pitfalls of piggybacking, which can land you in some big trouble. The law, as written, isn’t a carte blanche license to just find any contract that is for something your government wants and buy it through that contract; it is more nuanced than that. Fortunately, the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) has written an extensive guide to piggybacking that will help you reap the benefits of this law without stepping into dangerous territory.

Name brand procurements versus sole source contracts

ProcurementMgmt_123770867.jpgLocal governments have the ability to specify a name brand during their procurement process. In these situations, the government should thoroughly document why only this specific manufacturer’s equipment is necessary to meet their operational needs, as well as why another manufacturer’s equipment could not substitute. This documentation should be maintained and periodically evaluated to ensure that the specific brand is still required.

For the procurement process, the local government should draft specifications of what they intend to purchase, and what specific brand is required. Based on the estimated cost of the purchase, the government would then follow applicable procurement processes.

It is important to note here that specifying a name brand during the procurement process is not the same as declaring a purchase sole source. Continue reading