By John Boling
On February 8, 2023, IIBEC submitted to the North Dakota Senate State and Local Committee testimony in support of qualifications-based selection (QBS) for the procurement of construction design services. Specifically, IIBEC asked the committee to amend SB 2370 “to protect taxpayers and ensure compliance with state requirements regarding the procurement of architecture, engineering, and land surveying services, as outlined by N.D.C.C. Chapter 54-44.7, by inserting a provision prohibiting the purchase of such services via a cooperative purchasing program.”
IIBEC does not oppose cooperative purchasing programs when used for products with easily determined intrinsic value. However, the bill under consideration would also allow cooperatives to offer construction services that include architectural, engineering, and design services. The IIBEC testimony highlighted the benefits of using QBS, and it also trumpeted the fact that the process has been so successful at the federal level that it is recommended by the American Bar Association in its 2000 Model Procurement Code for State and Local Governments and Recommended Regulations.
This past fall the Brooks Act celebrated its 50th anniversary. IIBEC will continually remind legislators that by using QBS they will save time, save money, produce higher levels of client satisfaction, and promote innovation. IIBEC members who pursue public projects should be judged by their skills, experience, and ability to complete the project, not by whether or not they can simply undercut the competition’s price.
The senate panel is expected to continue deliberations on SB 2370, though during a work session on Feb. 9, the panel chair, state senator Kristin Roers, noted multiple concerns regarding the legislation. The bill’s sponsor, IIBEC has learned, is working on modifications that will address the concerns. At this point, IIBEC is hopeful the committee will pass a modified version of the bill and include specific prohibitions against allowing cities and counties from purchasing design services via cooperative purchasing programs.