Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS)
Consulting engineering firms provide specialized knowledge, unbiased and independent engineering judgment, broad experience and the creative and innovative application of modern scientific and engineering techniques and practice. A consulting engineering firm may work for government, commercial or industrial clients directly or as part of a design team.
The dominant factor in selecting a consulting engineering firm is its qualifications to solve the specific set of problems under consideration. Qualifications are a reflection of the firm's experience, staff, integrity and reputation; concept of the project; and knowledge of local conditions.
Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) refers to a procurement process for public agencies to use in the selection of architectural and engineering services for public construction projects. It is a competitive process whereby consulting firms submit qualifications to a procuring entity which then evaluates and selects the most qualified firm. Once the consultant has been selected, the project scope of work, schedule, budget and consultant fee are negotiated.
Under a QBS procurement, the cost of the work/price is not considered when making the initial selection of the best or most appropriate provider of the professional services required. Fees for services are negotiated following selection and before contracting.
Many states, including Georgia, have adopted QBS for state construction procurement of engineering and/or architectural services and have even extended the use of QBS into additional areas of professional services procurement, including project and program management, construction management at-risk (CM/GC) and design-build ("best value") procurement.
QBS was developed because government agencies lacked consistent procurement tools to contract for design services when price competition made no sense. For example, creative design services cannot be fairly priced before the creative process has taken place. To impose a "low bidder" mentality on design professionals would eliminate the creativity and innovation that the owner wants out of the design process.
Most public agencies recognize that price or cost are the poorest criterion for service selection when quality and professional creativity are sought. Few would willingly choose a surgeon or an attorney who was the "low bidder" if your life was on the line.
For additional information, materials, and facilitation to assist in using QBS in the procurement of professional engineering services, contact Michael Sullivan, President of ACEC Georgia at (404) 537-1337.