(Approved by the Executive Vice President by authority of Executive Order No. 5)
The University of Washington, as an agency of the state of Washington, is required to operate under rules and regulations adopted by the legislature and other governing bodies. Legislation is contained in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW); other regulations are part of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC).
The following excerpts from Chapter 43.19 RCW reflect the primary rules which govern purchases by the University for all of its programs.
Insofar as practicable, all purchases shall be based on competitive bids, and a formal sealed bid procedure shall be used as a standard procedure for all purchases. However, formal sealed bidding is not necessary for:
Competitive bidding shall be solicited by public notice, and through the sending of notices by mail to bidders. When purchases are made through competitive bidding, the contract shall be awarded to the lowest bidder, taking into consideration the quality of the articles proposed to be supplied, their conformity with specifications, the purposes for which required, and the times of delivery. In determining "lowest responsible bidder," in addition to price, the following elements shall be given consideration:
The legislature has also enacted a variety of laws related to very specific types of purchases, including:
As a major recipient of federal funds, the University is obligated to follow additional regulations, especially related to advance approval of certain purchases and reporting of activity with vendors.
Apart from all the regulations which apply to us as a state agency, the University must conduct its purchases in accordance with the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). This set of laws has been adopted by each of the states to govern the actions of buyers and sellers in the commercial environment.
As employees of the state of Washington, faculty and staff of the University of Washington must follow all of the state statutes and regulations regarding ethics and conflicts of interest. State law is found primarily in Chapter 42.52 RCW, and sets out a strong statement of ethical principles and values for state officers and employees. In part, that statement provides:
State officers and employees of government hold a public trust which obligates them, in a special way, to honesty and integrity in fulfilling the responsibilities to which they are elected and appointed. Paramount in that trust is the principle that public officewhether elected or appointedmay not be used for personal gain or private advantage. (RCW 42.52.900)
University staff and faculty who are involved at any point in the process to select suppliers, award and administer contracts and approve payments must adhere to high standards of ethical behavior and ensure that they do not show favoritism to any supplier(s) over others who are also interested in doing business with the University.
University guidelines regarding ethical practices may be found in the Executive Order No. 32, "Employee Responsibilities and Employee Conflict of Interest."
Employees with questions about whether certain situations pose ethical questions should seek advice from the head of their department. Department heads may consult with the Purchasing office, the Provost's office, and/or the Attorney General's division as necessary for any specific ethics question.
Individuals writing sole source statements need to understand that the statements carry weight similar to a perjury statement. RCW 42.20.040 discusses public employees making false reports. It states "Every public officer who shall knowingly make any false or misleading statement in any official report or statement, under circumstances not otherwise prohibited by law, shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor." RCW 42.20.050 states "Every public officer who, being authorized by law to make or give a certificate or other writing, shall knowingly make and deliver as true such a certificate or writing containing any statement which he or she knows to be false, in a case where the punishment thereof is not expressly prescribed by law, shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor."
Departments are responsible for maintaining accurate and complete records of confirming orders placed by the department. It is recommended that the person who authorizes a purchase not be the same person who receives the goods and/or approves payment.
Chapter 28B.10 RCW vests the University of Washington Board of Regents with the authority to handle all aspects of the University's operation. The Regents have delegated many responsibilities to the President, who in turn delegates them to the Vice Presidents and operating units such as Purchasing and University Stores.
May 1, 2002.