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Protect Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS)

The new U.S. Embassy in London, designed by architecture firm Kieran Timberlake, who were selected based on qualifications, not lowest bid.

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AIA Member Testifies Before House Small Business Committee on Barriers to Federal Design Work

AIA Position

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) strongly supports qualifications-based selection of architects and engineers in procurement for projects at both the federal level, as required by the Brooks Act, and the state and local level. The AIA strongly opposes any legislative or agency effort to weaken or limit application of the Brooks Act, including allowing agencies to solicit architectural services on GSA schedules.

Background

The Brooks Act (Public Law 92-582), also known as qualifications-based selection (QBS), established the procurement process by which architects and engineers (A/Es) are selected for design contracts with federal design and construction agencies.

Under the Brooks Act, A/Es are selected on the basis of demonstrated competence and qualification for the type of professional services required before reasonable and fair fees are negotiated. With QBS, price quotations are not a consideration in the selection process. The QBS process, as established by the Brooks Act, has long been enthusiastically supported by every A/E professional society.

However, some federal agencies avoid using the Brooks Act by obtaining services through the Federal Supply Service (FSS), where selection of offerors is based on price and not the professional qualifications needed to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people who use the building.

Not only does this violate the Brooks Act, but because some states prohibit architects from competing on price, architects are forced to choose between violating ethical obligations or not participating in the federal marketplace.

The FSS provides many benefits to the federal government. However, by procuring architectural services through the FSS, which focuses on price rather than qualifications, agencies threaten public health, safety and welfare. GSA must cease to use the FSS program for architecture as it violates the Brooks Act.

Useful Links

AIA Government Procurement Resource Page

The Council on Federal Procurement of A/E Services

 

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