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Master Contracts

Master Contracts are used by state agencies when purchasing specific items the State has a Master Contract for—unless the master contract cannot justifiably satisfy the agency’s needs. Contractors compete to be on Master Contracts, and the selected contractors are the only vendors state agencies can use for that item. Other government entities, such as universities or cities, can also use master contracts if convenient for them. Master contracts typically do not have a limit on how much money can be spent on them, and they represent a large portion of state spending. As agencies must use Master Contracts, having small and diverse vendors on Master Contracts is important to allow businesses the opportunity to work with the State. You can find a list of tools below to help your agency assist small and diverse business to compete on Master Contracts.

Agencies are directed to use their discretion and good, sound judgment when making the decision to not purchase from a master contract. What is an example of “cannot justifiably satisfy the agency’s needs”? 

  • The product available from the master contract does not meet the required performance specifications, the contractor’s delivery time does not meet the agency’s needs, the agency requires different terms (i.e. warranty provisions or insurance requirements), etc.
  • All agencies have been encouraged to increase their small, veteran owned and diverse spend. If these options are not available on a master contract and an agency has identified a spend option that meets its needs and complies with all procurement rules, then the agency would be justified to purchase outside of a master contract. The reasons justifying the off contract purchase should be documented, as appropriate.
  • Read More: DES Delegated Authority Policy FAQ

When an agency would like to use an OMWBE or DVA certified business that is not on the master contract list, there is an option that allows agencies to purchase outside of the master contact to achieve diverse spending. The Department of Enterprise Services does recognize there are occasions when the master contracts list “cannot justifiably satisfy the agency’s needs.” Please refer to DES Pol-DES-090-00 FAQs and direct any questions to contractingandpurchasing@des.wa.gov or call (360) 407-2210.

Currently utilization of certified minority, women and veteran owned businesses in master contracts is averaging at 7% and $4.7 million in sales. Having options on master contracts to utilize certified minority, women and veteran owned businesses is important to the overall state supplier diversity goals. This tool addresses a statewide strategic, coordinated approach to identify and eliminate barriers associated with master contracts.

Master Contracts FAQ

Introduces master contracts when they are required and how to identify opportunities for diverse businesses.

Identify Diversity on DES Master Contracts

Proactively identify your contracting and procurement needs. Early planning is the key to supplier diversity.

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