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An update to Missouri's QBS law was signed into law - Missouri’s QBS law - in 2007.  This change to our QBS law originally passed in 1983 to make clear that local governments must follow a QBS - qualifications-based selection - procurement process regardless of what local statue or policy they adopt. 



QBS - Achieving Quality and Cost Effectiveness in Designing Projects

How do you know you're getting the best value for your dollar when you obtain the services of a design professional? Your first reaction will undoubtedly be to obtain price quotes and then choose the low bidder. 
Contrary to your initial reaction, bidding for professional design services can compromise the architecture, engineering or surveying needed for your project. Unlike selecting a professional simply on the basis of cost, using a Qualification Based Selection (QBS) system for professional services, can assist you in retaining a well qualified professional and enable you to negotiate a level of service and cost appropriate to the project and budget.


Qualifications based selection (QBS) is a negotiated procurement process for selection based on qualifications and competence relative to the work to be performed. 
Step 1 Agency requests qualifications for identified services. QBS is usually done for a single project. However, QBS can be done annually with firm identifying all areas of their expertise for future projects. 
Step 2 Professionals submit qualifications. 
Step 3 Agency screens qualifications and lists "three highly qualified" professionals. 
Step 4 Agency reviews list and selects the professional best qualified and capable of performing the desired work (may or may not include interviews). 
Step 5 Agency prepares a detailed "written description of the scope of the proposed services." 
Step 6 Professional examines written description and determines hours and fee to accomplish the work. 
Step 7 Agency and professional negotiate contract. "If the agency is unable to negotiate a satisfactory contract with the firm selected, negotiations with that firm shall be terminated. The agency shall then undertake negotiations with another of the qualified firms selected. If there is a failing of accord with the second firm, negotiations with such firm shall be terminated. The agency shall then undertake negotiations with the third qualified firm."
(Text in quotes verbatim from the state law.)


  • quality comes first, as espoused by the theory of total quality management (TQM)
  • fosters broad based competition
  • allows the design professional to understand the owner's complete needs and objectives of the project before negotiating the design fee
  • takes full advantage of creativity and expertise of the design professional
  • the design professional is the advocate for the owner during construction
  • the design professional addresses compliance with codes and regulations



YES - if you are working for a federal or Missouri state agency or local political subdivision. 
NO - if you are a private entity, you have the right to choose any selection process you wish. Likewise, the design professional has the freedom of choice to participate in any selection process. 


  • Produces only bare-bones design without the benefit of innovative and alternative solutions using the design professionals creativity.
  • Produces only bare-bones proposals which do not include everything the client wants or needs ... a discovery usually made during construction and resulting in enormous costs for change orders and extras ... and additional fees for the design professionals.
  • Sets up an adversarial relationship whereby extras and change orders could be in constant dispute giving the design professional an unfair reputation, and the owner with a bad taste in his mouth for design professionals.
  • Results in a low-bid firm which is often inexperienced, ill-equipped and/or poorly staffed. When this occurs, the client takes on unnecessary risks and end up being the loser, both financially and in the life-cycle costs.
  • Under any method (including the two-envelope system) where price and technical proposals are submitted, price always becomes the dominant factor and selection is then made on price.


  • Public Law 92-582 (Brooks Bill) passed in 1972 confirms that QBS is in the nation's best interest in federal procurement on civilian agency projects.
  • Missouri law RSMo 8.285 - 8.291 specifies that state agencies and political subdivisions must use QBS.
  • Public Law 100-464 passed in 1988 reaffirms the Brooks Law and adds specific services covered by the law.
  • The American Bar Association's Model Procurement Code for State and Local Governments (2/1979) specifies QBS as the preferred method of procuring services from design professionals.
  • The American Public Works Association specifies QBS as the preferred method for procuring design services for their members.  The APWA publication, The Red Book, Selection and Use of Engineers, Architects and Professional Consultants: A Guide for Public Agencies (url: was developed to assist public agencies in understanding the importance of QBS and how to successfully implement a procurement based on qualifications.


  • High quality consultant services are only 1-2% of the lifetime project cost yet dictate construction and lifetime maintenance costs (98%).
  • It promotes improved project quality by assuring that the client understands clearly the scope of services required.
  • It leads to realistic construction bids based on a definitive scope of work.
  • Studies have shown that use of QBS for projects is more efficient and less costly than use of a selection process that uses price as a primary criterion.
  • QBS avoids the situation where the greatest benefit of the design professional's innovation and creativity is lost because its importance was not recognized at the fee proposal stage.

Office: 573-636-4861
Fax: 573-636-5475
308 E. High St., Ste 100
Jefferson City, MO 65101

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