Just the FAQs

Q. How are architectural and engineering firms retained?
A. The traditional method of hiring engineering and architectural firms for public work is through a process known as negotiated procurement or qualifications-based selection. The basic goal of this selection procedure is finding the best qualified firm or individual to perform the work. There are six major elements to this procurement procedure: public notice, submittals of qualifications, review of submittals, interviews, ranking respondents, and negotiation of a contract.
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Q. How does QBS work?
A. The specific details may vary slightly throughout the country, but the Brooks Architect-Engineering Act of 1972, which mandates QBS for all architectural and engineering services procured by the federal government, is the model for most QBS programs.  In general, the QBS process requires that firms hired to design public works are selected first and foremost by their qualifications and not by their price or connections to decision makers. 
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Q. Is QBS more costly than cost-based procurement?
A. No. In fact, in the long run, it saves money. Cost-based procurement may sometimes result in a lower initial design cost, but qualifications-based selection generates a better project with lower overall costs - from design through construction to ongoing operation and maintenance. Moreover, the fee for the design professional amounts to only a small percentage - according to Dunns, a leading construction industry publication, less than 1% - of total life-cycle project costs.
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Q. How does QBS benefit the community?
A. QBS results in projects with the best design solutions to meet the needs of the project, emphasizing public health, safety and quality of life.
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Q. Why not bid out services?
A. The process for selection of a firm to construct a project differs from that used in the selection of a firm to design the same projects. A construction contract can be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder because all major aspects of the project are defined, including the type and amount of construction materials required to complete the project. On the other hand, you retain architects and engineers to turn your undefined concept into a set of plans and specifications. The engineers and architects take an idea and give it definition. The contractor takes that definition and turns it into a physical reality.
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Q. Does QBS eliminate price competition?
A. Not at all. Price always is a factor. The difference is that price comes into play later in the selection process, after the highest technically ranked firm is selected and the project scope is fully defined. QBS generates a realistic fee based on a fee proposal by the consultant and negotiations with the agency. If the agency cannot negotiate a fair price with the first choice of consultant, it has the option to open negotiations with the next most qualified constultant.
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