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May 20, 2010

UW changes roster system for A/E firms

Journal Staff Writer

Any boss who has had to search through piles of resumes to find the right candidates for a job should understand the University of Washington's dilemma.

When it seeks architects and engineers to work on many of its $4-million-and-under building projects, someone has to plow through stacks of paper that outline the qualifications of those firms.

That will change on June 1 when the university's Capital Projects Office switches from having A/E and related firms submit qualifications on paper to an electronic system.

Then, the UW will begin using the Shared Procurement Portal A/E roster, managed by the eCityGov Alliance, as its roster to select firms. The website is sharedprocurementportal.com.

The roster contains submittals from companies that want to design projects for government agencies in the region.

The UW's hard copy system is bulky, hard to search, and causes a lot of work for A/E firms in preparing submittals, said Douglas Jennings, program manager of the architect/engineer partnership program in the UW Capital Projects Office.

With the new portal, the UW can search for a number of variables, from staff size, to how long a firm has been in business, their location and if they are women or minority-owned, Jennings said.

The SPP gives the university a better handle on all companies qualified for jobs — something that is difficult to discern when you have 284 hard copy submittals as the Capital Projects Office does, Jennings said.

“As a public agency we have a real obligation to be open to all services that are out there,” he said. “Basically (the portal) is a tool for us to reach out to the whole design community.”

He said A/E companies need to submit only one set of qualifications, which can be viewed by all member agencies.

“In the old days there were firms that were sending out over 100 submittals to various agencies,” he said.

A/E firms can update their qualifications on the portal, which recently has been enhanced to allow them to list areas of expertise, said Jennings.

The portal manager, eCityGov Alliance, is an inter-local government agency formed in 2001-02 to provide regional online services, from online permitting to job applications to mapping, according to its executive director, John Backman.

In late 2008, eCity launched the SPP. It has six rosters, which its 22 fee-paying government agency members can search for firms. Besides the A/E roster, there are rosters for small construction projects; general services (such as landscape maintenance or janitorial work); information technology; supply vendor; and legal services.

“For vendors and contractors trying to do business here, where do they go? Backman said. “There are so many front doors — 39 cities in King County. How do you know where to knock?”

Firms submitting qualifications do not pay a fee. Companies cannot view each others' qualifications.

The rosters can be viewed by individuals or companies at no charge, but they only receive basic information.

Seattle is not a member of the SPP.

A May 19 notice in the DJC incorrectly said the UW would start using the SPP system on July 1.


Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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