ConstructionPlanningImageLast week, we discussed the importance of evaluating the capabilities of your initial project team to assess the need for a third party project manager.  This week we will focus on selecting the architect who will best serve and participate as a member of your project team.

The architect for a school construction project receiving state assistance plays a particularly important role in the application and other submissions required for the school construction grant program administered by the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services.  The process for the selection of an architect for a state assisted project is governed by Connecticut General Statutes §10-287(b)(2) and involves what is often referred in the construction industry as a “quality based selection” process.  Quality based selection is a process that allows the award of a contract for a public project based on criteria in addition to price.  The statute calls for a two-step selection process whereby it is first determined whether proposers are qualified based on the criteria set forth in the request for qualifications (“RFQ”).  From the group of qualified proposers the “four most responsible qualified proposers” are identified based on the criteria set forth in the RFQ and the request for proposals (“RFP”).

At a minimum, the statute requires that selection criteria include:

  • Due consideration of the proposer’s pricing for the project
  • Experience with work of similar size and scope as required for the order or contract
  • Organizational and team structure for the order or contract
  • Past performance data, including, but not limited to, adherence to project schedules and project budgets and the number of change orders for projects
  • The approach to the work required for the contract
  • Documented contract oversight capabilities
  • May include other criteria specific to the project

The contract must be awarded to one of the “four most responsible qualified proposers” based on the criteria set forth in the RFQ and the RFP.

Because you are limited by statute to evaluate the proposers based on the statutory criteria and the criteria set forth in the RFQ and the RFP, it is essential that the RFQ and RFP for the project clearly set forth selection criteria relevant to your project. For example, if your project involves solar roof panels and you want a designer that has experience with solar roof panels, this requirement should be clearly stated in the RFQ as a part of your selection criteria.  If you neglect to include an element of the criteria in your solicitation documents, it would not be wise to base your selection on the omitted element.

For those public school projects that are not state assisted, or in the case of a project for a private educational institution, there is much greater flexibility in the procurement process because the statutory requirements described above will not apply. Generally, for public schools, the procurement process will instead be governed by applicable board of education purchasing policies except where the town charter overrides or is in conflict with such policies.  The school administration of a private school will generally have the greatest amount of discretion in the selection process for design professionals subject only to internal purchasing policies that have been established.

Notwithstanding this level of discretion, private school administrators would be wise to establish a protocol for the selection of design professionals to ensure that selections are made only after careful consideration of the relevant skills, capability and experience of all applicants.

We will outline the basic requirements of solicitation documents for design services for state-assisted school projects in next week’s Construction Corner post.