Canadian Consulting Engineer

Consulting engineers air views about hiring on television

John Gamble, president of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies - Canada (ACEC) appeared on CBC's business show, the Lang and O'Leary Exchange, on November 25.

November 29, 2011   Canadian Consulting Engineer

John Gamble, president of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada (ACEC) appeared on CBC’s business show, the Lang and O’Leary Exchange, on November 25.

The interview was part of the CBC’s series “The Big Fix” which has been looking at the serious problem of aging infrastructure in Canada.

Gamble said that engineering companies are concerned that procurement is often done in isolation from considering the lifecycle costs of the entire project. Engineering adds value to ensure a quality project that will last longer and so cost less over the long term.

Whereas municipal engineers used to “have a lot to say” about which engineers and contractors were hired, said Gamble, today procurement practices have  become very centralized for accountability and transparency purposes. Gamble “is fine” with that, but he noted that it has resulted in the process becoming somewhat mechanical. “There’s a lot of scoring,” Gamble noted, whereas some of the very qualities you need for the right team are qualitative. The right team is the one that can share the client’s vision, he said, and that doesn’t depend on a company’s size.

Asked about qualifications-based selection (QBS), the procurement practice that ACEC advocates, Gamble said that it is not a new process, but goes back decades. He said QBS is not dissimilar to how you hire people.  You advertise for applicants, shortlist and select one, then negotiate terms.

Asked about P3 procurement, he said it is not always the right solution, but it does provide some assurance that a project will be built to last. That’s because if the same company is designing, building and then operating a piece of infrastructure for 25 years, then there is more incentive for them to make long-term decisions about how to proceed.


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