Qualifications-Based Selection of Professional Services

Qualifications-Based Selection of Professional Services

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) encourages water utilities to procure professional engineering, architectural and other professional consultant services based on qualifications of the firm, also known as qualifications-based selection, rather than price, regardless of project size and scope.  Qualifications include the relevant experience, capabilities, expertise and workload of the firm and the capability, availability, experience, education, and training of the firm’s personnel proposed for an assignment. Under this competitive process, the resumes, experience and expertise of the personnel proposed for the project, and the proposed project approach are evaluated and ranked, and the most qualified firm is preliminarily selected. The cost of services is considered only in negotiations with the selected firm based on a mutually acceptable scope of services. If a mutually acceptable scope of services and satisfactory price cannot be secured, then the second ranked firm is considered. 

Qualifications-based selection for procurement of professional services provides greater assurance that water utility interests, and hence public interests, are best served though well-planned, well-designed, cost-effective and reliable utility projects. AWWA joins many federal agencies, states and provinces, as well as other professional organizations, in supporting, and in some cases requiring, qualifications-based selection procedures. The professional organizations include, but are not limited to: the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE); the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC); the American Public Works Association (APWA); the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE); the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES); the American Institute of Architects (AIA); the American Bar Association (ABA); the Canadian National Guide to Sustainable Municipal Infrastructure’s “Selecting a Professional Consultant”; and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada.

Practices specified in this policy statement are consistent with all other pertinent AWWA policy statements.

Adopted by the Board of Directors January 16, 2016. Revised April 19, 2019.

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