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Qualification Based Selection

When utilizing state funding, Architects must be selected via a Qualification Based Selection Process or "QBS."  The California QBS process is also referred to as the California "mini-Brooks" act which  is based on the National  Brooks Act.

In October 1972, the federal government enacted Public Law 92-582, covering the selection of architects and engineers based on qualifications. This bill has since been known as the Brooks Selection Bill, as it was introduced by U.S. Representative Jack Brooks of Texas. During years of use by the federal, most state governments, and numerous municipalities across the nation, the use of qualifications-based selection has proven itself to be more efficient and less costly when considering total or life-cycle costs than the use of a selection system using price as one of its primary criteria Effective January 1, 1990, Chapter 10 of the California Government Code, Sections 4526-4529, commencing with Section 4525 and known as the Mini-Brooks Act, mandated local agencies throughout the state of California to select applicable professional consultant services on the basis of demonstrated competence and professional qualifications. Following passage of the law, the Architects & Engineers (A & E) Conference Committee of California formed a QBS Subcommittee to provide a documented understanding of the process.


Qualifications-Based Selection A Guide for the Selection of Professional Consultant Services for Public Owners


In Sua Arte Credendum

An architect... Should first be informed what it is that is wanted what expense might be contemplated by his design: What the particular views of the persons who have the management of the money devoted to the work.

There will be on the part of a sensible and good-tempered man no objection to any reasonable extent of revision or re revision of a first design. Enlargement, contraction alteration of arrangement, of construction and of decoration may be made by a man of talents in almost infinite variety, and suggestions from unprofessional men politely and kindly made are always acceptable. But no honest many will for a moment listen to the proposal that he shall lend his name to the contrivances of whim or ignorance, or under the pretense of a cheap, give to the public a bad work. There is, as in most proverbs, a vast deal of good sense in the old Latin proverb...IN SUA ARTE CREDENDUM

[He should believe in his own work]. We allow full faith to our mechanics in their particular callings. No man thinks himself capable of instructing his shoemaker or tailor. Indeed we swallow what the physician orders with our eyes shut and sign the deed the lawyer lays before us with very little inquiry. But every gentleman can build a house, a prison,[school] or a city. This appears extraordinary, for when a gentleman sets about the work, he has the interests of all those he employs in array against his fortune, without any protection in his won knowledge. The mechanical arts employed in the erection of a capital building are more than twenty. Of these every architect has a competent knowledge so as to judge of the quality as well as the value and the amount of the work. But it is at least twenty to one against the gentleman who trusts only himself that he will lose 5 percent, at least.

Quoted from a letter from Benjamin Henry Latrobe to Robert MIlls,. 12 July 1806

QBS according to Wikipedia

The qualifications-based selection was developed because public owners lacked procurement tools for services for which price competition made no sense. For example, creative services cannot be fairly priced before the creative process has taken place. An architect can hardly "hard bid" (submit a firm price for) a project when part of the cost to the architectural firm (and therefore its needs for compensation) will be determined later in the process of discovery of the owner's needs and intentions.

Further, lowest cost is widely recognized as the poorest criterion for service selection when quality and professional creativity are sought. An apt analogy from outside of the construction arena often cited is in the area of medical care: Nobody willingly chooses a surgeon based upon a doctor's willingness to perform an operation most cheaply.

Whereas private owners can use common sense to procure services based upon an evaluation of sources of greatest delivery of value, public owners, under political scrutiny, have been bound to the presumed objectivity of selections based on lowest price, even if a realistic price could not be determined. Such situations have led to unintended consequences, including poor service and quality, excessive and expensive change orders, and litigation over disputes.

Adapting to political reality, known abuses, tight budgets, and increasing expectations on the part of taxpayers for quality with integrity, the public owner has developed selection procedures consciously intended to enhance the probability of value while guarding against unfairness and abuse.

Crucial to QBS is the methodology and documentation the public owner uses to ensure competition without consideration of price. An essential element is the use of a selection committee, comprising a number of knowledgeable people of unquestioned integrity, to make the evaluations. The selection committee is charged by the owner with fairly evaluating the qualifications and, often, the ideas for project execution offered by competing firms.

The following is re-printed from Wikipedia:  QBS according to Wikipedia

Benjamin Latrobe

Benjamin Henry Latrobe   (born May 1, 1764, Fulneck, near Leeds, Yorkshire, Eng.—died Sept. 3, 1820, New Orleans, La., U.S.), British-born architect and civil engineer who established architecture as a profession in the United States.

Quoted from  Encyclopaedia Brittanica Online