Canadian Consulting Engineer

Professional: Price allowed in selecting consultants

Consulting Engineers of Ontario is hoping to stem the tide of low fee bidding that has been draining the profit margins of consulting engineers since the early 1990s recession. At its annual meeting i...

August 1, 1999  Canadian Consulting Engineer

Consulting Engineers of Ontario is hoping to stem the tide of low fee bidding that has been draining the profit margins of consulting engineers since the early 1990s recession. At its annual meeting in Toronto in May, outgoing chairman Bruce Bodden, P.Eng. announced the publication of the association’s “Guidelines for the Selection of Consulting Engineers.” The booklet, which is mercifully short and to the point, has been circulated to public sector clients. The association will give free copies to members who want to send it to other clients.

For the first time the association recognizes in this type of document that price often has to be a factor when clients are choosing which consultants to hire. Still, the document recommends that fees should not count for more than 20% of the selection criteria. It also suggests that clients should automatically discard “rogue” bids by consultants that are 25% above or below the budgeted fee for an assignment.

In another move intended to keep in tune with the changing nature of the industry, the association is adapting its bylaws and allowing up to half the members of its board to be non-consulting engineers so long as they represent member firms. Ninety-five per cent of the members who responded to a ballot this summer were in favour of the changes.

The association is also physically on the move. In August it moved offices from Overlea Boulevard in east Toronto, to Etobicoke in the west end of the city.

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