Qualifications-Based Selection For Subconsultants
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Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) is a two-step, competitive process for selecting providers of architectural and engineering services on the basis of demonstrated competence and qualifications for the services required at fair and reasonable prices. Qualifications-based selection is required for public projects under both federal and state law. The responsibility for compliance with QBS procedures rests with both the public sector owner and the prime consultant

The Texas Society of Architects (TSA) and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Texas (ACEC Texas) support qualifications-based selection. We believe that QBS encourages technical excellence and innovation and yields the lowest overall construction cost and long-term, life-cycle costs. Public agencies are obligated to comply with QBS rules and we encourage the use of QBS procedures by private sector clients.

TSA and ACEC Texas believe that the utilization of qualifications-based selection in relationships between prime consultants and subconsultants, in addition to being a requirement of law on public projects, is also good policy on all projects – public and private. TSA and ACEC Texas recommend the following practices to their members:


Prior to Proposal: In selecting teams to propose on projects, prime consultants should select subconsultants on the basis of expertise, competence, qualifications, and suitability to meet the selection criteria. Projects differ in terms of how much detail is available regarding the proposed scope of work. In some cases, an overall fee may be capped by statute and therefore known in advance. After a team is chosen based on QBS procedures but prior to submission of a proposal, a prime consultant is encouraged to have a general understanding among team members regarding the method of determining or adjusting fees or scope.

Communication During Scope and Fee Negotiations: Subconsultants should be involved in or kept informed of negotiations with the owner regarding fees and scope.

Problems During Negotiations: If a team is selected and subsequently the compensation, terms or conditions requested by a subconsultant are a barrier to agreement between the prime consultant and the client, resolution of the situation requires an honest and open dialogue involving the owner, the prime consultant, and the subconsultant. The prime consultant should inform the owner of the problem. The owner may choose to increase the budget or change the scope. In the event that the owner does not choose to accommodate the compensation, terms or conditions of the original subconsultant, the prime consultant should inform the original subconsultant and select the next most qualified firm. Under no circumstances should a prime consultant request simultaneous price proposals from subconsultants.

Problems During the Project: If, in the course of work on a project, a prime consultant is compelled to remove a subconsultant and retain another subconsultant, the appropriate procedure is to first inform the subconsultant of the cause for intended termination and provide a reasonable period to resolve the conflict If the conflict is not resolved within a reasonable time, the prime consultant shall terminate the original subconsultant in writing and select a replacement subconsultant on the basis of qualifications. The owner should be notified of the replacement. Under no circumstances should a prime consultant request simultaneous price proposals from subconsultants. The prime consultant should provide written notification to the replacement subconsultant describing the reasons for the termination of the original subconsultant. In order to ensure proper transition, it is recommended that the replacement consultant communicate with the original subconsultant.

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ACEC San Antonio Chapter Meeting-08/19/20