Full Guide: Qualification-Based Selection (QBS) Process

Learn everything you need to know about the Qualification-Based Selection (QBS) process.

Posted on: February 15, 2018

It all comes back to design.

Design is the foundation – the starting point. In any kind of project, everything hinges upon the design.

Without an effective one, everything can figuratively – and sometimes literally – fall apart.

This is one of the main reasons that Congress passed the Brooks Act (Public Law 92-582) in 1972: to enact a Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) process to ensure that architecture and engineering (A/E) contracts are awarded based on expertise, not price.

So, at the onset, the design is completed by a highly-qualified A/E firm.

QBS: What is it?

QBS is the procurement process that federal, state, and local agencies use to select architects and engineers for design contracts.

In this process, A/E contracts are negotiated based on proven expertise and qualifications.

This is done at a fair and reasonable price, and price quotations are not even considered during the QBS process.

In summary, QBS is easy to implement, unbiased, fair, well-documented, and effective.

Who uses QBS?

Per the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), QBS is currently used by all federal agencies, 46 state governments (including Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio), and numerous other localities throughout the U.S.

The American Public Works Association (APWA) endorses QBS, and the American Bar Association recommends QBS in its Model Procurement Code for State and Local Governments.

QBS process: What does it look like?

*Source: http://www.acecohio.org/aws/ACEC/asset_manager/get_file/90945?ver=6103

The ACEC estimates that the QBS process can take anywhere from one week to five months.

Why use QBS?

Here are a few reasons why QBS is beneficial for you:

  • You can develop a collaborative and fruitful relationship with the A/E firm you select for a specific project.
  • You can have an objective and successive process that will help you find, select, and contract with the most highly-qualified A/E firms.
  • Both you and the A/E firm save time and money; with a great project design, the project will be completed on time and within your budget.
  • The A/E company becomes part of the design early, so you can speed up your project planning, reduce costs, and improve productivity and efficiency.

Want further proof?

In 2009, Paul S. Chinowsky, PhD and Gordon A. Kingsley, PhD developed a national study that analyzed QBS at the request of the ACEC, in collaboration with the APWA.

Their key findings only continue to attest to the effectiveness of this process:

  • QBS ensures cost-effectiveness.
  • QBS lowers risks for complex projects.
  • QBS results in better projects and highly satisfied owners.
  • QBS takes account of emerging societal issues (for example, sustainability).
  • QBS encourages innovation and protects intellectual property.
  • QBS supports owner capacity building.
Do you have any questions about QBS or the steps involved in this process? Let us know!

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