Here is a short public service announcement reminding public works general contractors of the obscure requirements of RCW 39.06.020. This statute mandates the GC verify subcontractor responsibility for each subcontractor the GC intends to use on public works projects:
A public works contractor must verify responsibility criteria for each first tier subcontractor, and a subcontractor of any tier that hires other subcontractors must verify responsibility criteria for each of its subcontractors. Verification shall include that each subcontractor, at the time of subcontract execution, meets the responsibility criteria listed in RCW 39.04.350(1) and possesses an electrical contractor license, if required by chapter 19.28 RCW, or an elevator contractor license, if required by chapter 70.87 RCW. This verification requirement, as well as the responsibility criteria, must be included in every public works contract and subcontract of every tier.
Thus, at the time a GC enters into a subcontract with each subcontractor, the GC must verify:
(a) that the sub is appropriately registered pursuant to RCW 18.27;
(b) that the sub has a current state unified business identifier (UBI) number;
(c) if applicable, that the sub has industrial insurance coverage for the sub’s employees working in Washington as required in RCW Title 51, an employment security department number as required in RCW Title 50, and a state excise tax registration number as required in RCW Title 82;
(d) that the sub is not disqualified from bidding on any public works contract under RCW 39.06.010 or RCW 39.12.065(3);
(e) that the sub has not been found out of compliance by the Washington state apprenticeship and training council for working apprentices out of ratio, without appropriate supervision, or outside their approved work processes as outlined in their standards of apprenticeship under chapter 49.04 RCW for the one-year period immediately preceding the date of the bid solicitation;
(f) that the sub has received training on the requirements related to public works and prevailing wage under RCW 39.04 and RCW 39.12;
(g) that within the three-year period immediately preceding the date of the subcontract in question, the sub has not been determined by the department of labor and industries or by a court of limited or general to have willfully violated the state wage laws (RCW 49.46, 49.48, or 49.52); and
(h) and if an electrical or elevator sub, that the sub has the appropriate license.
As stated in the statute, GC’s must include a provision in the subcontract requiring its first-tier subcontractors to ensure all lower tier subcontractors have met the same responsibility criteria.
There is no penalty or enforcement mechanism stated in the statute to give us any guidance on what might befall a GC if it fails to verify subcontractor responsibility. However, entering into a contract with or using a subcontractor that is not properly registered or licensed is an infraction under the statutes governing contractor registration.
Best practices would certainly be to include a questionnaire for the sub to fill out and sign when sending your proposed subcontract to those subs with which you intend to subcontract.