Why Procurement is Important

For most clients, selecting an engineering firm may be the most important decision in ensuring the success of its project. For that reason, the procurement process is of specific interest to us.

Many ACEC members express concerns about the procurement process used by government clients. Most federal, provincial and municipal departments hire consulting engineers based on "best value" to the taxpayer. In most cases, firms must submit proposals that list their qualifications and technical expertise, their proposed approach, and the price for their services. However, in our experience, clients' evaluation of proposals is frequently biased toward the price aspect, rather than giving due weight to expertise and approach. This often results in situations where engineering firms tend to interpret the scope of work narrowly, in order to provide the lowest price and win the job. Such a process effectively penalizes firms that have the foresight to anticipate complications, that propose innovations, or that have a clearer understanding of the client's needs.

ACEC is working to tackle this issue in several ways, such as by:

  • raising political awareness of the issue at the federal level
  • directly engaging government departments that hire engineering firms
  • creating tools to help procurement officials better understand the effects of their processes
  • allying with other organizations that are also affected by current practices
InfraGuide Best Practice: These guidelines for selecting professional consultants, a joint venture between the National Research Council (NRC) and the FCM, were created for public agencies in Canada.
The Brooks Act: An explanation of the U.S. federal law requiring the use of QBS for public projects using government funds.
Quality Based Consultant Selection Guide: Guidelines on QBS developed by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers.

More resources on QBS

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