Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is the basic QBS Process?

The QBS process usually involves the following steps:

  • Owner prepares the preliminary scope of services, describing the project to be built or problem to be solved and formulates a schedule of activities.
  • Owner places legal notices of invitation in newspapers and/or invites qualified firms to submit letters of qualifications in a format provided by Owner.
  • Owner reviews letters of qualifications, checks references, ranks firms and selects 3 to 5 firms for interviews. All other firms are notified in writing of the selections. Pre-interview site visits are arranged with the firms to be interviewed to provide the opportunity for ambetter understanding of the project requirements.
  • Interviews are conducted. During this process, it is important that the same questions be asked of each firm. In fact, it is suggested that qualification criteria and interview format material be made available to each firm prior to being interviewed.
  • Following the interviews, the Owner ranks each firm in accordance with a predetermined ranking system. All interviewed firms are notified of the results.
  • The highest-ranking firm is asked to participate in the preparation of a detailed scope of services and to negotiate conditions of the contract, including a fair and equitable fee.
  • If a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached, negotiations with that firm are suspended and negotiations are commenced with the second-highest ranking firm. The process continues until an agreement is reached and a formal contract is executed.



Question: Why is qualifications-based selection the preferred method of selection for public projects?

As stated in the American Bar Association's "Model Procurement Code for State and Local Governments" which states: "The principal reasons supporting this selection procedure for architect-engineer and land surveying services are the lack of a definitive scope of work for such services at the time the selection is made and the importance of selecting the best qualified firm. In general, the architect, engineer, or land

surveyor is engaged to represent the State's interests and is, therefore, in a different relationship with the State from that normally existing in a buyer-seller situation. For these reasons, the qualifications, competence, and availability of the most qualified architect-engineer or land surveying firm is considered initially, and price negotiated later."


Question: Why not bid these services?

The process for selection of a firm to construct a project differs from that used in the selection of a firm to design the same project. A

construction contract can be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder because all major aspects of the project are defined, including the type
and amount of construction materials required to complete the project.
Conversely, you retain architects and engineers to turn your undefined concept into a set of plans and specifications. The engineers and
architects take an idea and give it definition. The contractor takes that definition and turns it into a physical reality.


Question: Will the negotiated procurement process preclude problems during project execution?

The potential for these problems may be reduced because the parties will have a thorough understanding of respective responsibilities and obligations. Qualifications-based selection and negotiated procurement fosters cooperation because it eliminates the potential adversarial relationship between the client and the design professional associated with the selection made on the basis of price.