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MAPPS Comments on Proposed QBS Rule Change in Alabama

Posted By MAPPS, Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Alabama Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (BELS) hosted a PUBLIC HEARING on Tuesday, January 31, 2017. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss a proposed rule change regarding Qualification-Based Selection (QBS). THIS RULE COULD RESULT IN COMPETITIVE BIDDING, AND A REPEAL OF QUALIFICATIONS BASED SELECTION IN ALABAMA.

 

Click here for the propose rule and options.

Click here for the Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors letter.

Click here for additional information. (http://www.bels.alabama.gov/pdf/publications/APA-2_14.05.pdf)

The following is the comment filed by MAPPS: MAPPS, (www.mapps.org) a national association of private sector firms engaged in surveying, mapping and geospatial activities, opposes the changes proposed in Alabama in 330-X-14-.05, Practice.

MAPPS is a strong proponent of the qualifications based selection (QBS) process.  We believe QBS helps protect the public health, welfare and safety.

 

Traditionally, business and procurement procedures properly have emphasized awarding contracts to the lowest bidder, or using price as a dominant factor.  For many goods which one purchases -- paper, office equipment, desks, even construction services this process serves the government, citizens and the taxpayer well. Specifications can be written, products can be inspected and tested and safeguards can be built in to assure saving money.

Sometimes, however, it is mistakenly assumed professional surveying and mapping services fall into this category.

Unfortunately, the assumption ignores the increase in costs to administer the preparation of detailed scopes of work and bid specifications, evaluation of numerous bids, and to remedy serious consequences of unprofessional surveying and mapping. Quality, therefore, should always be the primary focus in the competition for surveying and mapping procurements.  Only after high quality performance is ensured should the focus turn to the contract price.

All Fifty states, including Alabama, impose strict educational and registration or licensing requirements for surveying professionals, and many including mapping in such licensing laws.  The high standards established by organizations like MAPPS for their members exemplify the professional nature of their work.

State licensing standards and government procurement regulations for professional services should be designed to protect the public health and safety during and after contract performance.   Thus, several state licensing boards, including Alabama, prohibit licensed professionals under their jurisdiction from engaging in competitive bidding to secure work. (See attached)

If inaccurate, a map could cloud land titles or jeopardize subsequent construction designs, planning activities or program management that must rely on accurate mapping data.  Just as a poorly designed dam can burst, subjecting the a client to huge claims, so too can a poorly planned or executed map unleash a flood of problems, creating an impediment to the expeditious completion of a project, causing substantial loss of time and money, and jeopardizing the public safety.  Like a well-made dam, a high quality map will stand the test of time and will ensure that the activity can proceed with its design, construction or resource planning project based on complete and precise groundwork.

In addition to the direct cost of the contract, the client must be concerned about such consequent indirect costs as physical destruction of property or clouded claims that could result from poor quality workmanship.

The use of negotiated procedures directs the focus of procurement activity where it should be, on the quality of the mapping services specifically suited to a given contract.  All competitors must submit their qualifications to the procuring agency; the agency assesses the relative expertise of the competing firms; and the one most qualified firm is selected for the particular procurement.  Such procedures produce a more cost effective survey than can be achieved under price bidding or best value procedures. 

For smaller projects, particularly those between a land owner and surveyor, a simplified mini-QBS process should be utilized rather than price competition.  As an alternative to a full QBS selection, a small project process could include the client selecting a professional for surveying or mapping based on reputation, reference or similar qualifications criteria. Pricing should only be solicited from one professional.  If a fair and reasonable price cannot be agreed upon, the client should move on to another firm.  Cutting corners through price competition is "penny wise and pound foolish" and should not be authorized or condoned by BELS.

Several reasons for this are as follows:

1.  Negotiated procedures afford built-in protection, since either the selection process eliminates unqualified firms, or the negotiations reveal a firm's comparative lack of expertise.  In either case, the problem is discovered before the contract is awarded, not after the job is done.  Under price bidding procedures, however, the low bidder wins, regardless of the marginal capabilities it may have demonstrated previously.

2. The extreme difficulty of defining adequately, in advance of negotiations, the quantity and quality of the mapping and photogrammetric services to be secured is likely to lead to misunderstandings as to the scope of the services to be rendered and the expectations of the client concerning the services and the desired project.  The negotiating process allows the client to work as a team with qualified professionals to refine the client's contract requirements and develop more tailored, economical mapping.  Thus, in the pre-contract stage, the client benefits from the professional's years of experience and demonstrated competence.

3.  Negotiated procedures ultimately result in more efficient, economical procurements for the competing professional firms as well as the client, because of the very nature of surveying and mapping.  Since only the top ranked firms need to prepare boundary analyses and detailed estimates on the work, other competitors are free to pursue other contract opportunities without wasting money on a contract they will not win.

4. The client benefits from the professional photogrammetrist’s fiduciary obligation to their client.  Emphasis on the quality of the work establishes a relationship of cooperation and trust, whereas price competition pits honest professionals against competitors who are willing to cut corners or deliver substandard services to bid low.  When the low bid is the primary selection criterion, the interests of unscrupulous or inexperienced contractors are advanced over the interests of the public.  The low bid map often is inaccurate or incomplete because the client will pay far more, or contract with another to complete the project begun by the low bidder who went bankrupt trying to meet an unreasonably low contract price.  Rather than an adversary relationship, which is promoted in competitive bidding procedures, the mapping professional should negotiate their work, and work as a team.

5. The client must be mindful of the indirect or hidden costs, such as legal fees, court expenses and insurance claims that it can incur when boundary, trespass and other property disputes are caused by outdated or erroneous maps.  By negotiating contracts with private mapping professionals, the client can save in-house costs and increase mapping outputs significantly.  A client's inspection or quality control of a mapping project to monitor contract compliance is much more difficult than inspection of manufactured products or other professional services.  The map's geographic scope is often immense, and the only effective way the client can check for accuracy is to retrace the entire map.  Even a trained eye cannot find a map's critical flaws that could threaten the public's safety and its pocketbook in future years. Unlike materials, a map cannot be adequately sampled before and thoroughly tested after production.  The client or owner is totally dependent upon the integrity of his mapping professional -- you might say he is at his mercy -- for even a bad mapping plan can look good. It often takes months or years before errors and problems are discovered.

6. Maps are tied to existing control points on the ground, the location and condition of which are uncertain until a survey is performed.  Legal descriptions of boundaries may, or may not, indicate physical monuments.  These physical monuments may or may not be still in existence on the ground.  If they do exist, they may or may not be the original monuments, and they may or may not fit other physical evidence in the area.  One cannot price the unknown.

7. Mapping is usually dependent on other exiting surveys and recorded documents.  The evaluation of such surveys or documents is a matter of judgment which cannot be made until the professional has researched the project, both in the field and in the repository of deeds.  He may find that as the result of his new work, the existing survey may have to be rerun to achieve the accuracy required by the client, even though the records of the existing survey indicated otherwise beforehand.  He may find deeds or other documents that will affect the interpretation of the client's land description.  These conditions may not be known, nor even suspected, until the survey is substantially started. 

8. Mapping is weather dependent.  Cloud cover, storms, excessively hot weather, floods, rain, wind and other inclement conditions can delay or prolong an aerial photography and mapping project for indefinite periods of time.  Precise leveling is extremely sensitive to the vagaries of weather.  Fog affects sighting lengths.  Wind affects instrumentation and measurement.  Cloud cover prevents collection of data on project areas. Delays cost money.  The decision to stop or delay the operation should be based on a determination that the quality of the result will suffer, rather than on a profit-loss motive.

9. The accuracy of a map depends upon the manner and the conditions under which the work is performed and not just on the accuracy of closures.  A map could close within specified tolerances, but the work could be unacceptable because of the methods used.

By requesting bids, a client assumes the responsibility for defining the scope of the services required and, thus, does not take any advantage of the knowledge and background of qualified professional engaged in providing such services.  All too few administrators and even engineers are knowledgeable in mapping, and their inadequacy in this regard is apparent in their requests for bids.  The knowledgeable person is aware of the indeterminate nature of mapping.  The reputable professional, if he is to bid, must either attempt to anticipate the many possible problems, determine which problems he feels will occur, and bid accordingly, or bid so high that he can include every possible condition (in which case he undoubtedly will not be the successful bidder).  If an honest attempt is made and unforeseen conditions occur, the mapper faces the decision to adhere to the specifications, thereby producing an inferior product (which he cannot ethically do) or perform the work to the best of his ability, thereby operating at a loss.  Either way, the client/taxpayer is the ultimate loser.

Numerous cases can be cited to prove that the lowest bid does not necessarily result in the lowest overall cost.  The old cry, "Bid as low as you dare, but make your money on the extras," is inevitable and the resulting relationship between the client and his surveyor assumes an arms length status which is not only not conducive to the completion of professional assignments, but in fact, effectively eliminates any exercise of professional judgment on the part of the mapper.

A broad coalition of design-related organizations supports qualifications-based selection procedures for surveying and mapping services. The Federal competence and qualifications-based selection law was codified in 1972 to protect the interest of taxpayers. It is Federal law because over the life of a project, the engineering and related design services account for less than one-half of one percent of total costs.  Yet, these important services play a major role in determining the other 99.5 percent of the project's "life cycle costs", such as construction, operation, and maintenance.  The same is true of the associated mapping or geographic information systems (GIS) project.

This process has been so successful at the Federal level that it is recommended by the American Bar Association in its model procurement code for State and local government.  The ABA model code specifically includes surveying and mapping.  Most States have enacted their own competence and qualifications-based selection laws for architecture, engineering, surveying and mapping services.  Others use it as a standard procedure.  No state has a specific law requiring bidding of these services.

For these reasons, MAPPS urges BELS not to diminish its support for or enforcement of a qualifications based selection process.  QBS is in the public interest and should be maintained.  If there is any alteration to the Alabama regulations, it should be to adopt a simplified QBS process for small surveying projects. Bidding should be discouraged to protect the public.

 Attached Files:

Tags:  alabama  al-mapps  qbs  surveyors 

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Does QBS Save Money?

Posted By John Palatiello, Friday, April 26, 2013

A colleague from the engineering profession asked me an interesting question, "Does the qualifications based selection (QBS) process for selecting firms for architecture, engineering (A/E) and related services (including surveying and mapping) save or cost taxpayers money?”

That is a frequently asked question. 

The federal law was codified in 1972 ("Brooks Act”, 40 U.S.C. 1101 et. seq. and implemented in part 36.6 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), 48 CFR 36.6) to protect the interest of taxpayers. It is federal law because over the life of a project, the engineering and related design services account for less than one-half of one percent of total costs. Yet, these important services play a major role in determining the other 99.5 percent of the project's "life cycle costs”, such as construction, operation, and maintenance.

While many services performed under the Brooks Act are not related to construction, such as surveying and mapping activities that support resource management, program administration, E-911 and a variety of other non-design or construction projects and applications, the savings are nonetheless realized.

The process has been so successful at the federal level that it is recommended by the American Bar Association in its model procurement code for state and local government. Some 47 states have enacted their own competence and qualifications based selection laws for architecture, engineering, surveying and mapping services. Others use it as standard procedure. No state has a specific law requiring bidding of these services.

The rationale for Congress codifying a practice that had been successful for more than 100 years before Congress passed, and President Nixon signed the Brooks Act on a bipartisan basis in 1972 was quality, public safety, and cost-effectiveness.

QBS was recognized as a competitive process in the landmark Competition in Contracting Act (P.L. 98-369) which Congress enacted in 1984 in response to the coffee pot and toilet seat scandal in the Pentagon. During an earlier Senate debate on the federal A/E selection law, Senator Gurney of Florida said, "any Federal procurement officer...will tell you that competition based on professional-technical qualifications is every bit as hot and demanding as competition based on price, perhaps more so.” 

Government contracting officers, who are accustomed to buying specific products, rather than professional services, gravitate to low bids. As Senator Henry "Scoop” Jackson of Washington State said on the floor of the U.S. Senate during debate on the federal QBS law, a "contracting officer faced with widely ranging price proposals or bids would be under pressure to accept the low price.”

Among the studies which have concluded that QBS in fact has saved tax dollars include An Analysis of Issues Pertaining to Qualifications Based Selection by Paul S. Chinowsky, PhD (University of Colorado) and Gordon A. Kinsley, PhD (Georgia Tech). It found that government agencies that use qualifications-based selection are better able to control construction costs and achieve a consistently high degree of project satisfaction than those using price based procurement methods.

The study drew from a database of approximately 200 public and private construction projects in 23 US states, included transportation, water, commercial, and industrial projects, ranging in size from relatively small projects to those costing hundreds of millions dollars. Its authors compared various procurement methods, including QBS, Best Value, and Low-Bid, with such factors as total project cost, projected life-cycle cost, construction schedule, and project quality outcome. Results showed that using QBS to procure the design component of a construction project "consistently meant lower overall construction costs, reduced change orders, better project results and more highly satisfied owners than in other procurement methods.”

The authors, both experts and noted researchers in the engineering and construction field, concluded that QBS should continue to be the procurement method of choice for public contracting officers seeking to acquire A/E services to meet increasingly challenging infrastructure needs.

A specific study comparing costs between agencies that use QBS and those that select on price also found that the QBS process saves money. Selecting Architects and Engineers for Public Building Projects: An Analysis and Comparison of the Maryland and Florida Systems compared projects in Florida, which used QBS, with those in Maryland, which for a period of time employed price competition. The comparative study found Maryland’s A/E selection process was significantly more time consuming and expensive than Florida’s. In Maryland, the necessity of preparing detailed programs on which A/Es can base price proposals results in added expense to the state in the form of administrative staff, time delays and consultant costs, and overall budget. The increased administrative costs in Maryland resulted from the necessity of preparing detailed programs on which A/Es can submit price proposals. These additional system costs were not evident in Florida. While A/E fees were lower in Maryland than in Florida, the added costs of the Maryland process far outweighed the savings in A/E fees that resulted from a process in which the state developed detailed programs and A/E selections were made with price as an initial factor.

Since Maryland’s law requiring selection based on price went into effect, there was an 11.6 percent increase in personnel and a 17.9 percent increase in the budget (in constant dollars) for construction projects.

Maryland’s A/E selection process took considerably longer to complete than Florida’s. The total delay relating to the A/E portion of the capital construction process in Maryland was almost 10 months. The delays occurred while detailed program descriptions were being prepared, during the actual selection process and during the design and approval phase. The Maryland Department of General Services completed the A/E portion of the capital construction process, from the point that funds are approved to the beginning of the actual construction cycle, in 31 months. The same steps are completed, on average, in 21 months in Florida agencies.

The study concluded that Maryland’s A/E selection process was significantly more time consuming and expensive than Florida’s. In Maryland, the necessity of preparing detailed programs on which A/Es can base price proposals results in added expense to the state in the form of administrative staff, time delays and consultant costs.

As a result, the Maryland legislature repealed its bidding law and enacted a state "mini-Brooks Act” or QBS statute.

The United States is fortunate that major building failures are rare. After incidents such as the collapse of the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City (MO) and the implosion of the roof of the Hartford (CT) Civic Center, Congress investigated these incidents and issued a report on "Structural Failures in Public Facilities” in 1984. It found, "procurement practices that lead to or promote the selection of architects and engineers on a low bid basis should be changed to require prequalification of bidders with greater consideration given to prior related experience and past performance.” The chairman of the subcommittee conducting the study and publishing the report was then Rep. Al Gore, Jr. (D-TN).

No study making an "apples to apples” comparison of bidding versus qualifications selection has ever been conducted on surveying, mapping or geospatial services. However, numerous agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report high satisfaction with the process.

The simple answer is yes, QBS saves money. The famous showman, P.T. Barnum is well known for saying, "There’s a sucker born every minute”. What is less known is that Barnum also observed, "The smartest way of deriving the greatest profit in the long run is to give people as much as possible for their money.”?

The Council on Federal Procurement of Architectural and Engineering Services (COFPAES), of which MAPPS is a member, will host a workshop on successful implementation of the qualifications based selection (QBS) process for procurement of professional A-E and related services on Tuesday, May 14 in Washington, DC.

The workshop is designed for Federal, state and local government personnel responsible for contracting for professional A-E services, including surveying and mapping, as well as private practice professionals and firm personnel involved in marketing, business development, and contract administration. Click here to learn more.

Tags:  Architecture  Budget  COFPAES  Engineering  Mapping  Money  Procurement  QBS  Surveying 

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The Brooks Act at 40: A Law that Works

Posted By John Palatiello, Saturday, October 27, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Brooks Act. On October 27, 1972, President Nixon signed into law the legislation providing for qualifications based selection (QBS) of architecture, engineering and related services, including surveying and mapping, or what we now call "geospatial” services.

Traditionally, government procurement procedures properly have emphasized awarding contracts to the lowest bidder, or using price as a dominant factor. For many goods which government purchases -- paper, office equipment, desks, even construction services -- this process serves the government and the taxpayer well. Specifications can be written, products can be inspected and tested, and safeguards can be built in to assure saving money.

Sometimes, however, agencies mistakenly assume professional surveying and mapping services fall into this category.

Unfortunately, the assumption ignores the increase in costs to administer the preparation of detailed scopes of work and bid specifications, evaluation of numerous bids, and to remedy serious consequences of unprofessional surveying and mapping. Quality, therefore, should always be the primary focus in the competition for surveying and mapping procurements. Only after high quality performance is ensured should the focus turn to the contract price.

Fifty states impose strict educational and registration or licensing requirements for surveying professionals, and many now include mapping, photogrammetry and GIS activities in such licensing laws. The high standards established by organizations like MAPPS for their members exemplify the professional nature of their work.

State licensing standards and government procurement regulations for professional services should be designed to protect the public health and safety during and after contract performance. Indeed, some state licensing boards prohibit licensed professionals under their jurisdiction from engaging in competitive bidding to secure work. 

If inaccurate, a map could cloud land titles or jeopardize subsequent construction designs, planning activities or program management that must rely on accurate mapping data. Just as a poorly designed dam can burst, subjecting the state to huge claims, so too can a poorly planned or executed map unleash a flood of problems, creating an impediment to the expeditious completion of a government project, causing substantial loss of time and money, and jeopardizing the public safety. Like a well made dam, a high quality map will stand the test of time and will ensure that the government can proceed with its design, construction or resource planning project based on complete and precise groundwork.

In addition to the direct cost of the contract, the government must be concerned about such consequent indirect costs as physical destruction of property or clouded claims that could result from poor quality workmanship. The E-911 system an ambulance uses to get to your house is not related to architecture, engineering or construction, yet an accurate map can mean the difference between life and death.

The government should negotiate contracts for these services independent of other professional design, construction or information technology services to ensure that specialized mapping skills and technologies are evaluated properly and not overlooked. In this manner, the government will benefit from direct control of both the quality of the services and the map's development.

The use of negotiated procedures directs the focus of procurement activity where it should be, on the quality of the mapping services specifically suited to a given contract. All competitors must submit their qualifications to the procuring agency; the agency assesses the relative expertise of the competing firms; and the one most qualified firm is selected for the particular procurement. Such procedures produce a more cost effective survey than can be achieved under price bidding or best value procedures.

Negotiated procedures afford built-in protection, since either the selection process eliminates unqualified firms, or the negotiations reveal a firm's comparative lack of expertise. In either case, the problem is discovered before the contract is awarded, not after the job is done. Under price bidding procedures, however, the low bidder wins, regardless of the marginal capabilities it may have demonstrated previously.

The extreme difficulty of defining adequately, in advance of negotiations, the quantity and quality of the mapping and photogrammetric services to be secured is likely to lead to misunderstandings as to the scope of the services to be rendered and the expectations of the government concerning the services and the desired project. The negotiating process allows the government to work as a team with qualified professionals to refine the government's contract requirements and develop more tailored, economical mapping. Thus, in the pre-contract stage, the agency benefits from the professional's years of experience and demonstrated competence.

The government saves substantial administrative costs of preparing detailed specifications that would be required under price bidding procedures to avoid widely varying interpretations by competing bidder. The government also saves significant personnel costs if it can employ a few specialists to review qualifications, negotiate contracts and specialists to review qualifications, negotiate contracts and monitor or inspect performance -- rather than maintain the large staff needed to process numerous bids received on each procurement and evaluate the qualifications of each of those bidders, as well as execute and monitor contract performance. 

Negotiated procedures ultimately result in more efficient, economical procurements for the competing professional firms as well as the government, because of the very nature of surveying and mapping. Since only the top ranked firms need to prepare boundary analyses and detailed estimates on the work, other competitors are free to pursue other contract opportunities without wasting money on a contract they will not win. 

The government benefits from the mapping professional’s fiduciary obligation to their client. Emphasis on the quality of the work establishes a relationship of cooperation and trust, whereas price competition pits honest professionals against competitors who are willing to cut corners or deliver substandard services to bid low. When the low bid is the primary selection criterion, the interests of unscrupulous or inexperienced contractors are advanced over the interests of the public. The low bid map often is inaccurate or incomplete because the government will pay far more, or contract with another to complete the project begun by the low bidder who went bankrupt trying to meet an unreasonably low contract price. Rather than an adversary relationship, which is promoted in competitive bidding procedures, the mapping professional should negotiate their work, and work as a team.

The government must be mindful of the indirect or hidden costs, such as legal fees, court expenses and insurance claims that it can incur when boundary, trespass and other property disputes are caused by outdated or erroneous maps. By negotiating contracts with private mapping professionals, the government can save in-house costs and increase mapping outputs significantly. Historically, more firms compete, and thus the government gets a better service at a fairer price, when QBS is used. Government inspection or quality control of a mapping project to monitor contract compliance is much more difficult than inspection of manufactured products or other professional services. The map's geographic scope is often immense, and the only effective way the government can check for accuracy is to retrace the entire map. Even a trained eye cannot find a map's critical flaws that could threaten the public's safety and its pocketbook in future years. Unlike materials, a map cannot be adequately sampled before and thoroughly tested after production. The client or owner is totally dependent upon the integrity of his mapping professional -- you might say he is at his mercy -- for even a bad mapping plan can look good. It often takes months or years before errors and problems are discovered.

Maps are tied to existing control points on the ground, the location and condition of which are uncertain until a survey is performed. Legal descriptions of boundaries may, or may not, indicate physical monuments. These physical monuments may or may not be still in existence on the ground. If they do exist, they may or may not be the original monuments, and they may or may not fit other physical evidence in the area. One cannot price the unknown.

Mapping is usually dependent on other exiting surveys and recorded documents. The evaluation of such surveys or documents is a matter of judgment which cannot be made until the professional has researched the project, both in the field and in the repository of deeds. He may find that as the result of his new work, the existing survey may have to be rerun to achieve the accuracy required by the client, even though the records of the existing survey indicated otherwise beforehand. He may find deeds or other documents that will affect the interpretation of the client's land description. These conditions may not be known, nor even suspected, until the survey is substantially started.

Mapping is weather dependent. Cloud cover, storms, excessively hot weather, floods, rain, wind and other inclement conditions can delay or prolong an aerial photography and mapping project for indefinite periods of time. Precise leveling is extremely sensitive to the vagaries of weather. Fog affects sighting lengths. Wind affects instrumentation and measurement. Cloud cover prevents collection of data on project areas. Delays cost money. The decision to stop or delay the operation should be based on a determination that the quality of the result will suffer, rather than on a profit-loss motive.

The accuracy of a map depends upon the manner and the conditions under which the work is performed and not just on the accuracy of closures. A map could close within specified tolerances, but the work could be unacceptable because of the methods used.

By requesting bids, a client assumes the responsibility for defining the scope of the services required and, thus, does not take any advantage of the knowledge and background of qualified professional engaged in providing such services. All too few administrators and even engineers are knowledgeable in mapping, and their inadequacy in this regard is apparent in their requests for bids. The knowledgeable person is aware of the indeterminate nature of mapping. The reputable professional, if he is to bid, must either attempt to anticipate the many possible problems, determine which problems he feels will occur, and bid accordingly, or bid so high that he can include every possible condition (in which case he undoubtedly will not be the successful bidder). If an honest attempt is made and unforeseen conditions occur, the mapper faces the decision to adhere to the specifications, thereby producing an inferior product (which he cannot ethically do) or perform the work to the best of his ability, thereby operating at a loss. Either way, the client/taxpayer is the ultimate loser.

Numerous cases can be cited to prove that the lowest bid does not necessarily result in the lowest overall cost. The old cry, "Bid as low as you dare, but make your money on the extras," is inevitable and the resulting relationship between the government client and his surveyor assumes an arms length status which is not only not conducive to the completion of professional assignments, but in fact, effectively eliminates any exercise of professional judgment on the part of the mapper.

A broad coalition of design-related organizations supports qualifications-based selection procedures for surveying and mapping services. The Federal competence and qualifications-based selection law was codified in 1972 to protect the interest of taxpayers. It is Federal law because over the life of a project, the engineering and related design services account for less than one-half of one percent of total costs. Yet, these important services play a major role in determining the other 99.5 percent of the project's "life cycle costs", such as construction, operation, and maintenance. The same is true of the associated mapping or geographic information systems (GIS) project.

This process has been so successful at the Federal level that it is recommended by the American Bar Association in its model procurement code for State and local government. The ABA model code specifically includes surveying and mapping. More than half the States have enacted their own competence and qualifications-based selection laws for architecture, engineering, surveying and mapping services. Others use it as a standard procedure. No state has a specific law requiring bidding of these services.

Then-Representative Jack Brooks (D-TX) had foresight and vision when he wrote the Brooks Act in 1972, decades before "best value” and "past performance” became part of the procurement lexicon. It is a law that works and one that should continue to promote professionalism, quality, excellence and value.

 

Tags:  AE  Brooks Act  Contracts  Procurement  QBS 

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MAPPS Sends Letter to Iowa Governor, DoT with Concern for Laser Scanner Solicitation

Posted By John Palatiello, Wednesday, March 7, 2012

MAPPS has sent a letter to Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad and state department of transportation director Paul Trombino in response to a published solicitation for a high-speed laser scanner with survey grade accuracy and field-of-view integrated camera.

MAPPS concern is based on the fact that such services are currently provided in the commercial market by professional surveying and mapping firms. There are numerous scanner/camera systems owned and operated by private surveying and mapping firms across the United States. These firms have invested heavily in this technology, not only in capital, but in training and development of their personnel as well. Many of these firms have provided mapping, surveying, and geospatial services to the Iowa Department of Transportation for many years. Services such as aerial and ground-based surveying and mapping (commonly known as photogrammetry), aerial photography, land surveying, GIS, and scanning and imagery for mapping have long been contracted to the private sector by federal and state agencies, and many of these services have been contracted to the private sector by Iowa DoT.

Historically, private firms have proven to be more cost-effective in providing surveying and mapping services than in-house DOT production. Scanning and imaging services should be regarded in the same manner, and should be contracted as part of a QBS selection for professional services.

Federal law, which encourages the use of the private sector for highway projects (See 23 USC 306), may prohibit the acquisition of such a unit. Since 1956, the national highway law required the Secretary of Transportation to, "wherever practicable, authorize the use of photogrammetric methods in mapping, and the utilization of commercial enterprise for such services”. The law was amended in the National Highway System Act in 1995 to require the Secretary to "issue guidance to encourage States to utilize, to the maximum extent practicable, private sector sources for surveying and mapping services for projects”.

MAPPS said in an economy where States are finding it difficult to fund basic services and face financial difficulties due to high unemployment rates and reduced tax revenues, it does not appear wise or prudent to waste taxpayers’ money on equipment for government operation of an activity when there are private firms that already have such equipment and can be utilized through a competitive procurement process.

Tags:  DoT  Iowa  Laser Scanning  QBS 

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