Maine QBS

FAQ's & Links

Common Questions 

Q. What is Qualification Based Selection (QBS)? 

A. QBS is an accepted, time-tested method of selecting design professionals without the consideration of design cost until after the best-qualified designer for the project has been identified.

Q. What is the Maine QBS Council?

A. The Maine QBS Council is a non-profit organization sponsored by theAIA-Maine, the American Council of Engineering Companies of Maine, and the Maine Society of Professional Engineers.

Q. Why do these organizations sponsor the Maine QBS Council?

A. Most public officials do not require design services frequently enough to know the way to select design professionals in the most efficient and cost effective manner. The QBS Process should: 
  • Save the owner time and money
  • Produce a higher quality project
  • Encourage a team effort which should increase satisfaction andcomfort for all parties.

Q. What type of services are selected using QBS?

A. QBS is used for the selection of project planners and project design firms, both architectural and engineering.  It is also frequently used to select firms to provide environmental assessments, geo-technical services, landscape design services, interior design services, and the services of Land Surveyors.  

Q. What precedents exist for QBS?

A. In 1972, the federal government adopted PL 92-582 (Brooks Bill) which required federal civilian agencies to use QBS for selecting design professional.  In 1982 a law was passed extending QBS to military projects and in 1984 the QBSrequirements were extended to Executive Branch Agencies. 

Q. What about the State of Maine?

A. In 1979 Maine adopted a QBS law covering the planning and design of State and Public School projects.  The law empowered the Bureau of General Services to develop procurement regulations for these projects.  The University of Maine System began using the QBS process of selecting design professionals approximately five years prior to the State's adoption of the QBS law. 

Q. Are there other precedents?

A. The American Bar Association Model Procurement Code for State and Local Government (2/79) specifies QBS as the preferred method of procuring services of design professionals. In addition, the majority of states have adopted QBS as the method of selecting design professionals. 

Q. What is wrong with using price as the primary criteria for selecting design professional?

A. When designers are asked to bid on design services, they have a strong incentive to propose doing the work in a way which will keep their costs to a minimum with little consideration for the possible needs of the Owner. 

Q. Does bidding create more competition for design work?

A. No. Many quality design firms do not bother to respond to price-based RFPs as to be price-competitive, they must lower their level of services to a point they do not believe appropriate.

Q. How can QBS help the project Owner?

A. Selecting a design professional or team is one of the key components of a successful project. The design team's performance can influence the entire course of the project; i.e. financial, feasibility, public response, design, functional efficiency, construction costs and maintenance costs during the life of the project. 

Q. Why can't I develop a detailed "Scope of Services" so that all firms can bid on the same amount of work?

A. Few Owners have the knowledge and experience to develop an accurate and complete scope of services for each project. As a result, they may define more services than necessary or fail to include some mandatory services.  In either event, the fee proposal will not be an accurate reflection of the appropriate design cost. It is better to enlist the aid of the selected design professional to help in defining the services that are appropriate for a specific project. 

Q. How do I minimize design fees?

A. The cost of professional services necessary for the design of a project should be measured in results rather than dollars. The reduction or elimination of surprises during construction and the reduction of ongoing operating and maintenance costs should be worth any small difference in the original design costs. The total project cost through its life cycle should be more important than the initial design fees. 

Q. What is the real cost of a project?

A. Studies have shown that for a typical public project, the costs over the life of the facility break down as follows: Operating and Maintenance costs, 56%; construction costs, 42%, and design costs, 2%. This suggests that if the "best-qualified" designer is able to reduce the long-term operating and maintenance costs or the construction costs, it would be well worth any small increase in design fees 

Q. How can I learn more about QBS?

A. The Maine QBS Council has retained an independent facilitator to assist elected officials, building committees, municipal staff and private owners in establishing a selection process that will meet their particular needs.  The current facilitator has over twenty-five years experience using QBS in selecting design professionals for a public entity. 

Q. How much does the services of the QBS Facilitator cost?

A. The services of the Facilitator are free to owners, both public and private. 

Q. Does the QBS Facilitator recommend designers or design firms?

A. NO - The purpose of the Facilitator is to provide information, guidance and other material to help owners use the QBS Process.  The selection of the designer is the responsibility of the owner. 

Q. Can the Maine QBS Council provide assistance in the advertising for design services?

A. The Maine QBS Council has developed a "Model Ad" to assist public officials in the preparation of a "Public Advertisement" for design services.  This ad is a part of the "Owner Manual" and can be viewed bygoing to that part of the web site. 

Q. Where can I find the name and address of AIA-Maine or ACEC-Maine firms?

A. To view the listing of the name, address, and telephone numbers of AIA-Maineor ACEC of Maine firms, CLICK on the organization name on the left Navigation Bar under "Sponsors" or contact the QBS Facilitator, .


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