[Boston, MA] – New research from the ACEC Research Institute found federal and state policies that select engineering services based on the design team’s qualifications and experience had lower project costs and better on-time delivery versus selecting firms based on the cheapest bid.
The study, conducted jointly by Paul S. Chinowsky of the University of Colorado Boulder and Gordon Kingsley of the Georgia Institute of Technology, builds on previous research which found similar cost savings and project success for government agencies using Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS).
The new Updated Analysis of QBS in the Procurement of Engineering Services finds QBS provides direct benefits in both the design and construction phases of a wide variety of public and private sector projects. From direct cost and schedule benefits to the indirect benefits of reduced management issues and increased innovation, QBS demonstrates a clear benefit when applied across a host of project types, sizes, and geographic regions.
“With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now law, Massachusetts can expect to receive over $9 Billion to repair and improve our roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure over the next five years.” said Abbie Goodman, ACEC/MA Executive Director. “This research proves that the best use of taxpayer money is to select engineering firms for this work competitively, based on their qualifications and experience, instead of price alone.”
“The clarity and simplicity of the process when QBS is used enhances project outcomes and owner satisfaction, while other methods such as low bid procurement can lead to unintended consequences including cost overruns and longer timelines,” said Paul Chinowsky, University of Colorado Boulder. “Our research shows that using QBS helps address challenges faced by procurement professionals, including the reduction in trained staff in smaller jurisdictions, the lack of education on appropriate procurement policy, and misperceptions due to confusing marketing campaigns by alternative procurement groups.”
To access the full study, visit https://program.acec.org/qbs-resources-portal
Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) is a procurement process that has firms compete for work based on experience and technical expertise, rather than competing for the lowest cost bid. Under QBS, firms are evaluated and shortlisted based on their qualifications, the top-ranked firm is selected for price negotiations. Ideally, a fair and reasonable price is reached based on a detailed scope of the project. If an agreement on price cannot be reached with the most qualified firm, negotiations move to the second most qualified firm. In most cases, the top-ranked firm is selected at a price that fits the client’s budget.
“Massport adopted our QBS process in the early 1990's with the help of ACEC/MA and we haven't looked back. QBS allows design firms the opportunity to be thorough and creative in their approach on our projects during the solicitation process without worrying that the proposed program will be dismissed because of price considerations. In our experience the best proposal leads to design excellence."
“From the owner’s perspective, the QBS process is desirable because it offers us great control over the selection of the design team best suited for the project. The negotiation process, after the selection, is also extremely valuable to both parties because it results in clear expectations and a clear understanding of the work. QBS is the fairest and most prudent method of selecting A&E firms for design services.”
“I recommend using Qualification Based Selection for several reasons. First, when your community has a very important and visible project, like the one we had in the center of Town, it allows for a more inclusive process for town officials, committee members and residents. Second, our project had several complicated elements including a culvert with buried utilities and a railroad crossing. QBS offered the opportunity for firms to showcase their staff and expertise thereby allowing us to pick the firm best suited to address all aspects of our project. Lastly, as a small town with a big project, we were able to meet and get a sense of the people we would be working with for years to bring our vision to completion. The result was a firm that was able to successfully navigate the permitting and state review process for a road project that used local, Chapter 90 and Federal TIP funds to construct.”
About the ACEC Research Institute https://www.acecresearchinstitute.org/
The ACEC Research Institute is the research arm of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) - the business association of the nation’s engineering industry. The ACEC Research Institute’s mission is to deliver knowledge and business strategies that guide and elevate the engineering industry and to be the leading source of knowledge and thought leadership for creating a more sustainable, safe, secure, and technically advanced built environment.
About ACEC/Massachusetts https://www.acecma.org/
The American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA) is the business association of the Massachusetts engineering industry, representing over 120 independent engineering, A/E and land surveying companies engaged in the development of transportation, environmental, industrial, and other infrastructure. Founded in 1960 and headquartered in Boston, MA, ACEC/MA is a member organization of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) based in Washington, DC. ACEC is a national federation of 52 state and regional organizations.
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