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Qualifications-based Selection. Why value outweighs cost in the selection of design services. QBS: What? Who? Why?. What is QBS?.

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qualifications based selection


Why value outweighs cost in the selection of design services

what is qbs
What is QBS?
  • A nationally endorsed procedure for selecting and retaining design professionals that will provide the best value to the owner in terms of quality and total project cost.
  • A competitive procurement approach that emphasizes quality attributes.
  • Prior to 1939
    • Most design done by federal employees
  • 1939 A/E Selection Provision
  • 1947 Armed Services Procurement Act and 1949 Federal Property and Administrative Procedures Act
  • 1972 – The Federal “Brooks” Law (P.L. 92-582) signed
    • Codified into federal law the qualifications-based selection process for A/E services
  • 1984 Competition in Contracting Act
who uses qbs
Who Uses QBS?
  • Local, state and federal governmental agencies that procure A/E services
  • Private industry
  • Other public and private institutions
  • Design professionals when hiring other design professionals
  • Other users of services/products who place quality first
engineering services
Engineering Services
  • Are services; not commodities
  • Engineers provide:
    • Technical Expertise
    • Innovation
    • Latest Technology
    • High Degree of Professional Competence
why not use low bid
Why not use low-bid?
  • To those not familiar with our industry low-bid may seem logical
the reality of bidding
The Reality of Bidding
  • Low-bidding leads to inferior results and actually increases overall project costs
    • Doesn’t foster building relationships
  • 2002 Polytechnic University (New York) study
what does the owner really want
What Does the Owner Really Want?
  • Lowest Construction Cost
  • Lowest A/E Cost
  • Lowest Life-Cycle Cost
  • Value
why qbs
Why QBS?
  • Life Cycle Cost Considerations
  • Team Building
  • Technology/Innovation
  • Reduced Changes
  • Flexible Contract Approaches
  • Competition Among Best Performers; Not Low Bidders
the request for qualifications rfq process
The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) Process
  • Selecting a Design Firm

1. An owner identifies the general scope of work and develops a selection schedule.

2. A request for qualifications is issued.

3. Statements of qualifications are evaluated.

      • Team’s Structure and Team Members
      • Team’s Qualifications
      • References
      • Experience
      • Project Approach
      • Location
      • Current Workload

4. A short-list of qualified firms to be interviewed is determined.

5. Interviews are conducted and the firms are ranked.

the rfq process
The RFQ Process
  • Negotiating a Contract

6. The owner invites the highest ranked firm to assist in defining a detailed scope of work.

7. The design firm develops and submits to the owner a detailed fee proposal, based on the agreed upon scope of work.

8. If the proposed fee is not acceptable to the owner, the owner and designer work together to modify the scope of work, schedule and budget to determine if an agreement on fee can be achieved.

9. If an agreement cannot be reached with the top ranked firm, those negotiations are ended and negotiations begin with the next most qualified firm.

10. An agreement covering the above is executed.

11. Firms involved in the selection process are given post-selection feedback, when requested.

earning the right to do the next project
Earning the Right to Do the Next Project
  • In some cases, the owner reserves the right to select a firm based on known qualifications rather than opening up the project to the competitive process.
  • However, the competitive process is often required for public owners to illustrate transparency.
  • Client satisfaction and not getting complacent is key to success for both approaches.

Acceptance of QBS by Governmental Agencies:

  • Indiana Department of Transportation
  • State Revolving Fund
  • USDA Rural Development
  • Office of Community and Rural Affairs (QBS is mandatory)
  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Indiana Department of Environmental Management
  • Economic Development Administration
  • Department of Administration
  • General Services Administration
  • Veterans Administration
who endorses qbs locally
Who Endorses QBS Locally?
  • American Council of Engineering Companies of Indiana
  • American Institute of Architects of Indiana
  • American Society of Civil Engineers of Indiana
  • Indiana Association of Cities and Towns
  • Indiana Association of County Commissioners
  • Indiana Society of Professional Engineers
  • Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors
  • Professional Engineers in Private Practice
  • Society for Marketing Professional Services
who endorses qbs nationally
Who Endorses QBS Nationally?
  • American Bar Association
  • American Council of Engineering Companies
  • American Institute of Architects
  • American Public Works Association
  • American Road & Transportation Builders Association
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • American Society of Landscape Architects
  • American Water Works Association
  • International Interior Design Association
  • National Society of Professional Engineers
  • National Society of Professional Surveyors
  • Professional Engineers in Private Practice
  • Society for Marketing Professional Services
  • Society of Interior Designers
Misconception: QBS takes longer.

QBS fosters teamwork between the client and engineering and facilitates construction, leading to faster project delivery.


Misconception: QBS is a waste of taxpayer money.

Low-bid is more expensive because it leads to increased change orders and high project maintenance costs. Furthermore, QBS provides the public with a high quality and safe design.


Misconception: QBS eliminates price as a selection criteria.

Price is a factor! Price becomes a factor only after the most qualified firm has been identified and a detailed scope of work has been jointly developed by the owner and design professional.

call to action
Call to Action
  • Unify approach in the profession
  • Educate newly elected officials
  • Continually educate and reinforce value of QBS to state agencies
  • Continue educating ourselves
  • Get involved (ACEC Indiana QBS committee)
    • Local web site
    • National web site
  • Qualifications-based pursuits (Good go/no go process)
  • Deliver!
  • ACEC’s Online QBS Resource Center
    • http://www.acec.org/advocacy/committees/qbs.cfm
    • QBS Indiana
    • http://www.qbsindiana.org/index.html