Qualifications-Based Selection Resource Center

Issue

In 1972, Congress adopted the Brooks Act (P.L. 92-582), requiring the use of Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) for the procurement of architect and engineering services. The use of QBS ensures that federal agencies — and the taxpayer — receive highly technical architect and engineering services from the most experienced and most qualified firms at a fair and reasonable cost. QBS is used by all federal agencies, 46 state governments, and many localities throughout the country. It works because:

  1. QBS protects the public welfare. Most individuals would not select medical or legal services based solely on cost — these highly skilled services are too important to leave to the lowest bid. Likewise, engineering is a highly skilled service that should not be selected on basis of the firm offering the cheapest price. Engineers design the highways and bridges we drive on, our water treatment systems, and all other infrastructure and systems upon which we rely. The design services provided by engineering firms directly affect the health, safety and welfare of the public, and it is important that only the most qualified and experienced firms be tasked with this critical function.
     
  2. QBS protects the taxpayer. Over the life of a project, engineering services account for less than one-half of one percent of total project costs. Yet these services play a profound role in determining overall project costs. A well designed project by highly qualified firm will stay on time and on budget, solve construction and operational challenges, experience fewer change orders during construction, enhance performance of the completed project, and lower long-term maintenance and repair costs. A 2009 study by the University of Colorado and Georgia Tech found that using a QBS process to procure engineering services results in lower construction costs and lower schedule growth, which means real cost savings to the taxpayer.
     
  3. QBS benefits small firms. QBS helps small firms compete by providing a forum to demonstrate their unique capabilities that often include a greater degree of niche market expertise, knowledge of local regulations and business practices, and greater involvement of senior level management in the execution of a project.
     
  4. QBS promotes technical innovation. Using QBS, owners have the opportunity to fully define the project scope during the selection process. This process fosters innovative, cost-saving and timesaving approaches to problems, ensuring that the final project meets or exceeds the functional and performance goals set by the owner.
     

ACEC Position

ACEC urges Congress to support legislation that would protect and promote the use of QBS. ACEC also supports requiring state and local governments receiving federal funding, including grant and loan programs, for any portion of a project to use QBS.

 

State Materials

 

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