Last week, a member forwarded a Request for Proposal to the AIACC from a public agency in Southern California. Like so many RFPs these days, this one asked for professional fees from the responding firms and stated that the fees would be used as part of the selection criteria. A draft of the standard QBS violation letter was sent to the agency contact. At this point, one of two things often occurs:
- The agency simply ignores our contact.
- The agency refuses to remove the fee request, often pointing to language in the Government Code that refers to “fair and reasonable prices” as being permissive of fee requests.
In this instance, it was a pleasant surprise to receive a response the very next day from the agency. They apologized for putting the fee request in the initial request. They said they would publish an addendum that stated sealed fee proposals would be requested only from the shortlisted firms, and that they would be opened only after the firms were ranked based on qualifications and interviews.
This example points out the value of our members continued efforts to forward RFP’s such as this to the AIACC for response. Not all public agencies who issue this type of RFP are scofflaws who are simply trying to save money on services by choosing the lowest bidder. In this case, it was a client who rarely issues design RFP’s and was simply ignorant of the law. Although the mini-Brooks Act, (which requires QBS from public agencies), has been on the books for more than 20 years in California, there are still many agencies who think that design services should be lowest bid. To quote the member who forwarded this RFP to us: “I wish we could have more success educating clients on the merits of QBS. Virtually all our jobs now are publicly funded, and yet we’re getting requests for bids.” This underscores the importance of using an educational approach toward combating the growing problem of public agencies issuing fee requests in design RFPs.
To report a QBS violation to the AIACC, please email Kurt Cooknick, Director of Regulations & Practice.