(1) The Department of Correctional Services shall have general charge of the erection of new buildings, the repair and improvement of buildings, including fire escapes, and the improvement of grounds.
(2) Buildings and other improvements costing more than fifty thousand dollars, exclusive of equipment not germane to construction and building material made in the institution, shall be (a) constructed under the general charge of the department as provided in subsection (1) of this section and (b) let by contract to the lowest responsible bidder after proper advertisement as set forth in subsection (5) of this section, except that buildings costing more than fifty thousand dollars, such as shops, warehouses, or a cannery, when declared necessary by the department and to be constructed on the grounds of any Department of Correctional Services adult correctional facility, may be constructed by the use of inmate labor. Any construction by inmate labor shall have the approval of the department, the warden, and the chief engineer of the department.
(3) Inmate labor or the labor of state charges shall be employed, whenever the department deems it practicable, in all construction, repairs, and improvements at state institutions.
(4) The successful bidder at the letting referred to in subsection (2) of this section shall enter into a formal contract with the department, prepared as provided for by subsection (5) of this section, and shall furnish a bond for the faithful performance of his or her contract, except that a performance bond shall not be required for any project which has a total cost of one hundred thousand dollars or less unless the department includes a bond requirement in the specifications for the project.
(5) When contracts are to be let by the department as provided for by subsection (2) of this section, advertisements shall be published in accordance with rules and regulations adopted and promulgated by the state building division of the Department of Administrative Services stating that sealed proposals will be received by the Department of Correctional Services at its office on the date therein stated for the furnishing of materials, the construction of buildings, or the making of repairs or improvements and that plans and specifications can be seen at the office of the department. All bids or proposals shall be accompanied by a certified check or bid bond in a sum fixed by the department and payable thereto. All such contracts shall be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, but the right shall be reserved to reject any and all bids. Whenever any material described in any contract can be obtained from any state institution, the department shall exclude it from such a contract.