Please contact your council person immediately to express your concerns about this resolution.
Governments are increasingly challenged to meet expectations with a deteriorating economy and a deteriorating infrastructure. Understandably, contracting officers are seeking more efficient and cost effective ways of operating. However, choosing professional services based on the lowest cost is not smart business or smart government. Consider:
2008 Study conducted by American Public Works Association (APWA) determined:
- QBS is the most competitive and cost effective process for owners.
- Procuring the most qualified design services at a reasonable price results in projects completed on time and on budget.
- Enhances Product Effectiveness. The QBS process emphasizes design capability and experience, and the effect that these attributes can have on safety, function, performance, constructability and life cycle costs of facilities. The initial cost of design is outweighed by the final product performance that results from good design solutions.
- Addresses Incomplete Scope - QBS allows design professionals to provide input to the evolution of the design solution and provide owners with options for completing the project prior to a final price being budgeted.
- In summary, according to APWA, projects incorporating the QBS procurement method outperform the national average in traditional measures and exhibit positive results in emerging areas. The combination of these results indicates that QBS should be the procurement method of choice for contracting entities. The combination of historical success with continued positive performance should dissuade contracting entities from abandoning this procurement method. The factors that prompted the passage of the Brooks Act have not changed. Rather, the increasing number of factors that design firms must address reinforces the need for Qualifications-Based Selection.
A 1996 study by School Planning and Management determined that initial design and construction costs of a school are only 11% of the building’s lifetime expenses. The breakdown:
- Initial construction: 11%
- Alterations & Renovations: 23%
- Long term financing: 16%
- Maintenance & Operations: 50%
Clearly, quality design and construction will have a major impact on maintenance and operations and represent an excellent investment.
The Reality of Bidding: a system that simply seeks the cheapest design cost is bound to produce lower quality projects – not every time, but most of the time. A design firm’s approach to a project must change when fee becomes a major criterion for selection. These firms may develop a means of cutting their time on a project by minimizing the level of service such as:
- Using less experienced personnel and evaluating fewer alternatives.
- Developing plans with minimal details that often require much layout and decision making in the field.
- Selecting systems that are easiest to design as opposed to selecting those that are the most economical and cost-effective for the owner over the life of the project.
- On a structural project, designing only the most heavily loaded members and then repeating these conservative member sizes throughout, resulting in oversizing of most members.
- Providing minimal review of drawings and observation of the work during construction, leaving the owner with lower quality construction and higher maintenance costs.
Qualifications is the solution. A QBS process allows the owner to choose the firm determined to be most qualified by objective criteria, whereas selecting design professionals by low bid takes this process out of the hands of the owner. The owner’s challenge is to get a good return on investment. This is achieved by selecting a qualified A/E and negotiating the appropriate scope and compensation to permit the A/E to work toward a successful constructed project.
QBS has the advantages that a well qualified firm is selected; scope of work is satisfactory to both parties; a mutually agreed on price is paid for the services; a team approach between the owner and consultant can be developed so that both parties have an interest in the project’s success.
47 states and the federal government have found qualifications based selection to be the preferred and most efficient way of purchasing architectural and engineering services.
Groups who endorse or support the QBS process include:
- American Institute of Architects
- American Council of Engineering Companies
- National Society of Professional Engineers
- American Public Works Association
- American WaterWorks Association
- American Bar Association
- Associated General Contractors of America
Note: Information for this report was gleaned from published reports from the American Institute of Architects, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Public Works Association and School Planning and Management.