Government Agency Bids & An Alert on Waiver Scams

Like the 800 lb gorilla in the room, government agencies can generally sit, contract or build however they want in CA. This often doesn’t ‘sit’ well with contractors. Another contractor wants to know if there is ‘truth’ in advertising he received, and other contractors may have also gotten. He gets a ‘true and false’ answer…

Q: I noticed that the county where I have my business is contracting out less work and doing it in-house. I mean some major work like parking lots, curb, gutter, sidewalk, drainage improvements, etc. I also notice they do shoddy work, do not comply with traffic control requirements, use twice the work force and take twice as long.

My question: is the County Agency required to maintain the appropriate contractor’s licenses and have qualified individuals to do the work? Who inspects their work? Do they have to get permits from the appropriate agencies, or is it a free for all as it appears? Not to mention they are taking work away from the local businesses.

I have actually reported crews for violations of traffic controls and safety issues with no satisfaction. Any thoughts?

A: Interesting question, however, a local government agency (like your County) is not required to hold a contractor’s license. They are exempt (under Code Section 7040) and can self-perform this type of construction with county employees. This exemption would also apply to the US Government, State of CA, incorporated cities, irrigation districts, or any “other municipal or political corporation or subdivision” when the work is being performed by their respective public employees.

As regards permitting or perceived violations, since the County likely controls all aspects of the permit process, they would be the ones to inspect their own work or investigate reported violations (sort of like a coyote guarding the hen house).

I cannot address the quality of work performed by any ‘public’ agencies nor can I make a determination about how many jobs are impacted by the county self-performing this work. However, it would stand to reason that local construction business would be negatively impacted.

Q: I received a letter in the mail, which says “you may be eligible to receive your own California Contractors License without taking the state exam” because I am listed as an officer on my parents license. It also says this relates to 7065.1(c) and that the “State License Board has eliminated all other waivers”. I trust you to tell me if this is a scam or for real.

A: As I have referenced several times in this column, the CSLB allows for an exam waiver under Code Section 7065.1(c). However, this is not the only available waiver and not everyone is eligible simply because they are listed as an Officer on a license. Frankly during my many years of responding to this type of question and handling these types of applications, I have found as many “Officers” ineligible as I have found qualify for the exam waiver.

You must be able to show that you have worked full time for the corporation for at least 5 of the prior 7 years in the same classification(s) held by the company. You must have worked in a supervisory capacity not just served as Secretary or Treasurer.

If the letter states that the “State License Board has eliminated all other waivers”, this is false. The Board has two additional waivers including what is commonly referred to as the “family waiver” (7065.1(b) whereby a close family member can continue a family business in the “absence or death of the licensee” and the “additional class waiver” which is available through B&P Code 7065.3.