Canadian Consulting Engineer

QBS Gains Momentum In Canada

October 1, 2009
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canadian Standards Association developing procurement training based on InfraGuide

Canadian Standards Association developing procurement training based on InfraGuide

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA), under the auspices of its Infrastructure Solutions Program, recently accepted a proposal from ACEC to work collaboratively on the development of a course for procurement officers on how to implement a qualifications- based (QBS) procurement system for selection of professional consultants. The course will be based on the recommendations contained in the InfraGuide Best Practices document on Selecting a Professional Consultant, but will go much further than the InfraGuide document by providing instruction on how to prepare proper requests for proposals, determining quality evaluation criteria and scoring systems, incorporating sustainability and lifecycle costing into the evaluation, and negotiating equitable fees and remuneration.

Parliamentary Committee recommends adoption of QBS

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates has issued a report to Parliament entitled “In Pursuit of Balance: Assisting Small and Medium Enterprises in Accessing Federal Procurement.” The report called for five goals to be incorporated into PWGSC procurement practices. One of these goals is stated as follows: “Allowing innovation and quality to be key selection criteria.” The report goes further, recommending that PWGSC “consider the merits of legislating the use of Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) as the required procurement process.”

During the Committee’s consultations, the consulting engineering sec tor was represented by former ACEC Chair Andrew Steeves and CEO President John Gamble, who had urged the Committee to recommend QBS as the preferred procurement system for professional consultants procured by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). Given that federal departments directly procure billions of dollars worth of infrastructure and building services, it is in the best interest of the federal government to ensure maximum value, including lifecycle value, for those dollars it spends.

The full text of the report can be found at, or obtained by contacting the ACEC office at 1-800-565-0569.

APWA Study confirms QBS works: Provides best benefit to owners

The results of a recent study conducted for the American Public Works Association (APWA) and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC-US) clearly demonstrates the substantial benefits to taxpayers and to both public and private sector clients of using QBS to select engineering and architectural consultants.

The study was conducted for APWA and ACEC-US by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Colorado. The researchers reviewed over 200 proj- ects representing a variety of procurement and delivery models.

Not only does the study show increased client satisfaction when using QBS, it also proves that QBS results in fewer change orders and delays on projects, which lowers overall cost, litigation, and delays. For instance, the study found that cost growth during construction is typically around 10% of a project; while on QBS procured projects, this cost was reduced to 3%. These findings, when extrapolated to a project with a $10 million construction budget, demonstrate a potential savings of $700,000 when using QBS.

The APWA study also demonstrated that risk was lowered for both owner and consultant — particularly for more complex projects. Furthermore, QBS encourages greater innovation in design. Perhaps more importantly, QBS provided greater opportunity to accommodate local sensitivities and societal needs.

This study supports ACEC’s contention that QBS allows projects to be planned and designed in a much more sustainable fashion, where the environmental footprint and lifecycle cost is much lower. Lifecycle costs are an extremely important consideration when one considers that engineering and design represents 1-2% of a project’s total cost, while operation and maintenance represents 80 to 93% of the total project cost.


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