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Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS)

Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) is the preferred method for selection of professional services. It is a negotiated, competitive procurement process for selection based on qualifications and competence in relation to the work to be performed. QBS is an objective, fair process/procedure designed to help an owner find the most qualified engineer for their project. Studies have shown that use of QBS for public projects can be more efficient and less costly than using alternative selection processes. QBS makes the best business sense and is the law in New Mexico.

Applicable Law

Procurement for professional services in New Mexico is guided by New Mexico Procurement Code (Section 13-1-120). The Procurement Code authorizes agencies to conduct multiple step procurement for Request for Proposals (RFP) based procurements. This means that the agency can review the proposals submitted and select finalist(s) based on qualifications.

In addition, pursuant to Chapter 81, Laws of 2006, any prospective contractor (engineer or architect) seeking to enter into a contract with any state agency or local public body must file a Campaign Contribution Disclosure Form with that state agency or local public body. This form must be filed by the prospective contractor with their response to the request for proposals. The prospective contractor must disclose whether they, a family member, or a representative of the prospective contractor has made a campaign contribution to an applicable public official of the state or a local public body during the two years prior to the date on which the contractor submits a proposal.

The QBS Process

By utilizing QBS, professional service firms are weighed first on competence, creativity, and performance and second on negotiation of a fair and reasonable fee. The process begins with the owner establishing evaluation criteria and soliciting statements of qualifications from professional service firms. The owner reviews these statements on the basis of qualifications, experience, reputation, current workload, and any other project specific factors.

The owner then selects the three to five most qualified firms to make brief presentations explaining their unique approach to the project. On the basis of these presentations, the owner ranks the most qualified firms numerically in order of preference. The owner and the top-ranked firm then negotiate a scope of services, which specifies the full range of services the firm will provide, the personnel it will commit to the project, and the schedule describing when the work is to be completed.

When an agreement is reached on the scope of work, the owner and professional proceed to negotiate a fee that is fair and reasonable to both parties. If an agreement on compensation is reached, a contract is consummated. If an agreement cannot be reached, negotiations with the top ranked firm are terminated, and the owner attempts to negotiate a contract with the second ranked firm. The process can be repeated as necessary until the contract is negotiated.

Benefits of Using QBS

History of QBS

In 1972 the U.S. Congress recognized the merits of competition based on qualifications. Congress established Public Law 92-582 (the Brooks Act), which declares it to be the policy of the federal government to base all procurements for architectural and engineering services on demonstrated competence and qualifications for the type of professional services required at a fair and reasonable price to the government.

Currently over 46 states have adopted similar laws. In addition, the American Bar Association has endorsed this qualification ranking/negotiation technique in its "Model Procurement Code for State and Local Governments."

New Mexico
In the early 1970s, the New Mexico Legislature passed the QBS law in New Mexico. New Mexico is one of 46 states that currently has a QBS statute.

Professional Technical Advisory Board (PTAB)

The New Mexico Procurement Code (Section 13-1-117.2) states that if a local public body does not have on staff a licensed professional, i.e. engineer, architect, surveyor, etc., than a Professional Technical Advisor (PTA) can be assigned by the appropriate New Mexico professional society. The Professional Technical Advisory Board (PTAB) was created for this reason.

PTAB is made up of professionals from:

PTAB provides assistance, at no cost to local public bodies, with QBS, Request for Proposals (RFPs), and/or related services. A PTA is assigned to review, assist, and educate as needed. PTAs are professionals who are volunteering their time. Their firms are excluded from proposing on the project associated with the RFP.

It is recommended that a local public body provide a minimum of four weeks prior to advertising to allow sufficient time for the PTA assignment process to be completed. This allows for the selection of the appropriate PTA for a specific project.

PTAB Manual

The Owner's Manual for Qualifications-Based Selection (recently revised to include the Campaign Contribution Disclosure Form) is available to assist communities in the selection and hiring of design professionals in compliance with the New Mexico State Procurement Code. It contains a complete explanation of the QBS process and guidelines for proceeding from project inception, to concluding a contract for professional services.

Also available is a sample Request for Proposals (click here for the Word Document) which can be modified by a local public body for each project.

For PTAB assistance or for more information, please contact 505.888.6161 or email

For more information about ACEC New Mexico, please contact or call 505.888.6161.

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