Federal Programs

All architect and engineering projects procured by the federal government using federal funds must be procured in accordance with qualifications-based selection procedures detailed in Federal Acquisition Regulations Part 36.6. However, when a mix of federal and state and/or local funds is used to fund an infrastructure project, the rules governing QBS become less clear. Following is an overview of major Federal grant programs and the regulations governing the selection of engineering services. Under streamlined acquisition procedures, contracts under $150,000 are not required to be procured using Brooks Act procedures.

Environmental Protection Agency

EPA's Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 40, 31.36(d)(3)(v) allows for grantees to use of QBS for A/E services, though it does not mandate that grantees use QBS. This includes all state revolving fund programs, Brownfield programs and special development corporations established through EPA grants. 

The Water Resource Reform And Development Act of 2104 amended section 602(b)(14) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to require QBS procedures be followed for program management, construction management, feasibility studies, preliminary engineering, design, engineering, surveying, mapping, or architectural related services for contracts using funds made  directly made available by a capitalization grant. Per EPA guidance, SRF-funded contracts for A/E Services associated with equivalency projects must comply with this requirement.

Housing and Urban Development 24 CFR 85.36 allows for grantees to use qualifications-based procurement for a/e services though it does not mandate that grantees use QBS. This includes programs for Housing Development Authorities and Community Development Block Grants. 
Federal Highway Administration

States are required to follow the Brooks Act (QBS) if federal funding is used for engineering and design-related activities, including program management, construction management, feasibility studies, preliminary engineering, design, engineering, surveying, mapping, or architectural related services, see 23 CFR Part 172

State DOTs are not bound by federal QBS requirements if they use only state funding for engineering work.  However, the costs of consultant service contracts that utilize only state or local funding which were not procured in accordance with applicable federal laws and regulations would not be eligible to apply toward the non-federal share of costs for subsequent phases (e.g., construction) of a federally funded project, see http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/consultant.cfm.

Federal Transit Administration 49 U.S.C. Section 5325(b) requires an FTA recipient to use Brooks Act QBS procedures when contracting for A/E services, including program management, construction management, feasibility studies, preliminary engineering, design, architectural, engineering, surveying, mapping, or related services, see http://www.fta.dot.gov/legislation_law/12349_8641.html.
Federal Aviation Administration QBS is required on all a/e service contracts funded in whole or in part with Airport Improvement Program funds, but not for projects funded solely with Passenger Facility Charge funds collected by airports, see
http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/150-5100-14E-consolidated.pdf
Federal Emergency Management Agency All a/e contracts made directly with FEMA are required to be procured using QBS. Any state that receives a grant from FEMA must have its procurement process approved. For professional engineering services, this requires proof that the state has a QBS law. FEMA reserves the right to disapprove a grant if QBS is not properly followed. Other grantees and sub-grantees may use QBS for a/e services procurement, see 44 CFR 13.36.
Department of Interior

All a/e contracts procured directly with the Department of Interior or one of its agencies must be procured using QBS. Grant programs to state, local and tribal entities are governed by the following rules: 

  • Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Land Management and the Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission are governed by 43 CFR 12.76 which allows grantees to procure using QBS but does not mandate its use.
  • The Bureau of Indian Affairs mandates that all a/e contracts made directly with BIA are to be procured using QBS. However, tribal governments may use their own procurement procedures under guidelines spelled out in 25 CFR 276.12.
  • The Forest Service and the National Park Service are governed by 36 CFR. All programs funded through these agencies must adhere to QBS procedures.
  • The US Geological Survey requires that all directly funded projects and grant programs follow Federal Acquisition Regulations, which includes QBS. This is detailed in 30 CFR 402.12
Department of Defense All a/e contracts made directly with DOD are to be procured using QBS. This includes work for NAVFAC, the Air Force, the Corps of Engineers military construction program and the National Guard. However, any grant recipients may use QBS thought it is not mandatory. This is detailed in 32 CFR 33.36.
General Services Administration - Public Buildings Service QBS is required when procuring a/e services per FAR Subpart 36.6.
Department of Agriculture

All contracts directly with the Department of Agriculture must be procured using QBS. However, the following applies to USDA grant programs: 

 

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