In retaining a design professional, an owner or manager should be for the specific project that is undertaken. The Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) procurement process is the most widely endorsed legal method for selecting a design professional by public owners. It is recommended by the American Bar Association, the American Public Works Association and various other groups, as well as the General Contractors and all major design professional organizations and associations. The QBS process is employed by all agencies of the federal government, nearly 40 state governments, and hundreds of local communities throughout the country.
Since every project is unique, the QBS process offers a procedure that guarantees that quality will be the primary consideration. It is sometimes difficult for the owner to fully grasp the complexities of a project or the variety of professional services that may be required in the development of the solution. This is where the design professional comes into the picture, by using their experiences and knowledge to educate the owner.
The QBS process also establishes a collaborative spirit between the design professional and the client to maximize the quality, value, cost effectiveness and the usefulness of the final product. The consultant services are only a small percentage of the project cost, yet these services affect and influence the entire outcome of the project.
QBS is intended to protect the client. The fact that QBS is also “fair” to consultants is secondary in importance. The public deserves safe structures, designed and built with quality and value. QBS is the only procedure that consistently promotes these important issues and creates an environment that promotes professionalism. The engineer or architect can offer advice that is in the best interest of the public and is free from the encumbrances of his personal business needs.
Engineers should be selected based on their qualifications in relation to the scope of the project. A meaningful fee can only be decided after a detailed scope of work is finalized and the scope of work is mutually developed and clearly understood by all parties.