Issues & AdvocacyFederal
The Best Way to Conserve Tax Dollars and Safeguard Public Health and Safety
The American Institute of Architects strongly endorses the concept that architects and engineers should be selected to perform public work on the basis of professional qualifications and competence.
Federal law, as prescribed by Public Law 92-582, commonly referred to as the Brooks Act, and laws in 48 of the 50 states provide for qualifications-based selection (QBS) of A/E firms.
QBS protects the taxpayers’ interest at the same time it safeguards public health and safety in the design and engineering of structures such as schools, hospitals, prisons, military installations, airports, bridges, and public office buildings.
QBS laws ensure vigorous and open competition among A/E firms that must qualify based on competence, experience, prior performance, and technical ability. Once a firm has been selected based on these essential qualifications, the fee is negotiated and determined by the hiring agency.
QBS promotes competition among
Competition among architects in public procurement is healthy and desirable and ensures that tax dollars are well spent. QBS provides a level playing field that promotes fair and open competition. It guarantees that only skilled, experienced, and able professionals are selected before price is negotiated and determined. As a result, public agencies acquire the services of the most qualified A/E firm and, at the same time, obtain a price that is fair and reasonable.
QBS helps public agencies get what they need
to serve the public.
Procuring architectural design services is vastly different from procuring office supplies or even construction services. Architects transform the general ideas and specific needs of an owner into detailed plans. The owner and architect then may collaborate to draft a detailed request for proposals (RFP), which can be used to procure other services needed on the project.
QBS strengthens the public RFP process.
Determining what to include in a comprehensive RFP is a complicated task for public agencies. As a result, RFPs are often vague and missing key information. When an RFP lacks sufficient detail, each firm competing for the work may interpret it differently. Consequently, proposals vary widely in scope and detail, creating an “apples and oranges” disparity in project details. When price is the only selection criteria, firms often use minimal standards, which means advanced technologies, new safety techniques, and the most effective design may be discounted. QBS improves the RFP process and, in so doing, improves service to both public agencies and taxpayers.
QBS is fair to all qualified architects and engineers who compete for public work.
Under QBS procedures, firms are interviewed about their qualifications and overall approach to the project. The interview process gives the panel of procurement officers an opportunity to meet with all interested A/E firms, which are then ranked according to their qualifications. QBS, far better than low-bid systems, ensures qualifications are considered during the selection process.
QBS is time-tested and widely supported
across the nation.
The federal government and 48 states (see chart on next page) follow QBS procedures for procuring A/E services. They have found this is the best way to both safeguard public health and safety and get the best deal possible. As well, the American Bar Association has endorsed the process by including QBS in its model procurement code for state and local government.