Qualifications-Based Selection

ACEC/MW advocates for the use of Qualifications-Based Selection for the procurement of engineering services.

Qualifications-based selection (QBS) is a procurement method where architecture and/or engineering firms are retained on the basis of qualifications, rather than price factors. Under the QBS method, the procuring agency reviews the qualifications submitted by firms, ranks respondents, and then negotiates with the most qualified respondent for a mutually agreeable contract price. In QBS, selection is based on the qualifications, experience and competence of the consultant, rather than the lowest price.

The federal Brooks Architect-Engineers (A/E) Act (PL 92-582), enacted in 1972, requires federal agencies to use QBS procedures when procuring design services. 

The ACEC Research Institute released a comprehensive study that found federal and state projects using Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) procurement methods had lower project costs and better on-time delivery versus selecting firms based on the cheapest bid.
Other key findings include:

  • QBS saves money—projects where QBS was used to procure engineering services experienced less cost growth (3 percent) versus the national average (6 percent).
  • QBS saves time—QBS projects perform better in terms of project delivery time, experiencing less schedule growth versus the national average (7 percent with QBS versus 10 percent without).
  • QBS produces higher levels of client satisfaction—(89% of QBS projects receiving “high” or “very high” satisfaction ratings from project owners).
  • QBS promotes innovation—Projects incorporating QBS have a greater likelihood of producing innovative solutions.

To view the ACEC Research Institute’s Report