Pre-Qualification of Contractors Seeking to Bid on Public Works Projects: The 1999 State Legislation and the Model Forms Created by the

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Pre-Qualification of Contractors Seeking to Bid on Public Works Projects:

The 1999 State Legislation and the

Model Forms Created by the

Department of Industrial Relations


Introduction and Overview of the 1999 Law and its Application 1

I. Important Provisions Of The 1999 Law 2
II. Role of the Department of Industrial Relations 2
III. An Overview Of The Documents In This Package 3
IV. Appeal Procedure 4
V. Application Of The Public Records Act 5
VI. What Are The Law’s Provisions Regarding Prequalification

Of Subcontractors 5
Model Pre-Qualification Questionnaire 6
Contact Information 7
Part I: Essential Requirements for Qualification 8
Part II: Organization, History, Organizational Performance,

Compliance with Civil and Criminal Laws 10
A. Current Organization And Structure Of The Business 10

B. History of The Business And Organizational Performance 11

C. Compliance With Occupational Safety And Health Laws

And With Other Labor Legislation Safety 16
Part III. Recent Construction Projects Completed 19
A List Of The Scorable Questions And The Scoring Instructions 21
Model Interview Questions 35
Instructions for Public Agencies re: Interview Questions 38
Request For Pre-Qualification Of Bidders Commencing With

Forthcoming Public Work Bid 41
Announcement Of Pre-Qualification Procedures And

Open Dates For Annual Pre-Qualification 45
Sources for Verification of Information Given by Contractors 49

Introduction And Overview Of The 1999 Law And Its Application

In 1999, the Legislature enacted a law that allows many public agencies to require licensed contractors that wish to bid for public works jobs to “pre-qualify” for the right to bid on a specific public works project, or on public works project undertaken by a public agency during a specified period of time. Public Contract Code section 20101 has the relevant provisions; it was enacted as part of Assembly Bill 574.
The law applies to all cities, counties, and special districts but does not apply to K-12 school districts (which have similar authority to create pre-qualification procedures, described in Public Contract Code section 20111.5, which was enacted in 1997).1
The law does not require any public agency to adopt a pre-qualification system. Instead, it authorizes every public agency to adopt a pre-qualification system, and describes certain requirements that must be met (described below), if a public agency chooses to adopt such a system.
In fact, the 1999 law allows a public agency to establish two different kinds of pre-qualification procedures for public works projects. The law allows a public agency to establish a pre-qualification procedure linked to a single project (Section 20101[d]). Or, the public agency may adopt a procedure by which a contractor may qualify to bid on projects which are put out for bid by that agency for a period of one year after the date of initial pre-qualification. (Section 20101[c]).

The law requires every public agency that creates either kind of pre-qualification procedure to:

(1) use a “standardized questionnaire and financial statement in a form specified by the public entity”(Section 20101[a]);

(2) adopt and apply a uniform system of rating bidders on objective criteria, on the basis of the completed questionnaires and financial statements (Section 20101[b]);

(3) create an appeal procedure, by which a contractor that is denied pre-qualification may seek a reversal of that determination. (Section 20101[d]).


AB 574 required the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) to “develop model guidelines for rating bidders, and draft the standardized questionnaire.” It required DIR to “consult with affected public agencies, cities and counties, the construction industry, the surety industry, and other interested parties.”

From January through October 2000, DIR held a series of meetings in Sacramento with representatives of public agencies and other interested parties. Each meeting was attended by more than 25 representatives of interested parties. All told, more than 60 people participated in at least one such meeting, and most representatives participated in more than one. Contractors, public agencies both large and small, and associations of each were well represented throughout the series of meetings. DIR’s initial draft of a questionnaire was revised after each meeting, and each revised draft was discussed at the next meeting, leading to additional revisions. Eventually, there was widespread consensus that the model questionnaire provided in this package offers a system of rating bidders based on objective criteria, and a useful and appropriate series of questions.
In addition, DIR, in compliance with the 1999 legislation, created model guidelines for rating bidders. The model rating system also is included in this package.


Included in this package are:

1. A model questionnaire to be sent to contractors. The questionnaire includes spaces for answers to be provided by the contractors, with the forms to be returned to the public agency.2 As required by the legislation, the information provided to the public agency by the contractors, other than the names, addresses and contractor license numbers of the contractors applying – is to be kept confidential
2. A model scoring system, for rating the answers given by the contractors and by the references. Note: the documents provided here by DIR are designed to collect the information that a public agency will need to carry out a pre-qualification procedure, and the DIR has proposed a rating system. Each public agency, however, is free to devise its own “uniform system of rating prospective bidders . . . based on objective criteria.” That is, each public agency may determine its own scoring system and its own passing scores for different portions of the questionnaire and for the interviews.
3. A model series of questions to be used by representatives of the public agency when interviewing persons who are identified by contractors as their “references” – owners of projects that have been completed by each contractor in the recent past.

  1. DIR’s suggestions for procedures to be used for conducting the reference interviews.

5. Two alternative forms: model announcements of pre-qualification procedures. Each is a summary and explanation of the pre-qualification procedure, prepared primarily for licensed contractors, although available for the general public as well. There are two slightly different versions of this document: one explains the pre-qualification procedure linked to a single project,3 while the other explains the procedure of pre-qualification valid for a year and for more than one project.

6. A list of sources of information that may be used by a public agency to verify the accuracy of many of the answers given by the contractors to the questions on the questionnaire.4

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