The 2013-15 Wisconsin State Budget (2013 Wisconsin Act 20) significantly altered the bidding and contracting processes for state construction projects. In summary, it required that all projects over $185,000 be let through single prime bidding and that all potential bidders (on projects over $50,000) must become certified by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) prior to submitting bids. All bids received from contractors who are not certified will be rejected.

The criteria for determining certification of qualified and responsible bidders are itemized in Wis. Stat. s. 16.855(9m) and based on DOA administrative rules. The following is a summary of these conditions:
  • Bidder has completed similar work at least 50% of the size/value of the division of work being bid
  • Bidder has access to all equipment, organizational capacity, and technical competence to perform work
  • Bidder maintains a permanent place of business
  • Bidder is bondable for separate 100% performance and 100% payment bonds
  • Bidder has a record of satisfactorily completed projects
  • Bidder is not on an ineligible list
  • Bidder has been in business for at least 12 months
  • Bidder is a legal entity authorized to do business in Wisconsin
  • Bidder has performed at least one public project for a government entity
  • In any jurisdiction, bidder has not been debarred, committed tax avoidance or evasion, nor have employees or members of bidder’s organization been disciplined under a professional license in previous 10 years

At this time, the most important first step is to apply for certification with the State. You are encouraged to apply now to allow sufficient time for a certification decision. Contractors seeking certification will need to submit a complete Contractor Certification Application to the Division of Facilities Development (DFD).

Certifications are valid for two years. However, the division(s) of work you are certified in and/or your threshold(s) may be modified within the two-year period if there is a substantive change to the information submitted in your initial contractor certification application. Contractor certification applications and instructions for completing the form may be obtained from the DOA Website.

While only a few project have been put out for bid to date under the new system, many contractors who have gone through the certification process have received very low thresholds in comparison to their bonding capacity. Axley attorney and ABC Chapter Attorney Brian Mullins has worked with impacted contractors and has been able to get their thresholds substantially increased. If you believe that your threshold is too low in comparison to your bonding capacity, please feel free to contact us for assistance.

John Mielke can be reached at jmielke@abcwi.org or 608-244-5883. Brian Mullins may be reached at bmullins@axley.com or (608) 260-2471.