IIBEC Helps Restore QBS Intent for Architect and Engineering Design Work in Alabama

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June 16, 2023

By John Boling

When a coalition working to restore qualifications-based selection (QBS) requirements for architects and engineers needed support, IIBEC got the call. To help the effort, IIBEC sent a letter on June 6, 2023, asking Alabama legislators to concur with Governor Kay Ivey’s executive amendment to restore Senate Bill 309 to its original intent of requiring the qualifications-based selection (QBS) process for the procurement of architectural and engineering design services. The successful effort concluded when each chamber concurred with the governor’s request, thus clearing the legislation for her signature.

Specifically, Senate Bill 309 removed conflicts between the long-standing Alabama Law Section 34-11-35.1(d) and the 2022 revised Section 41-4-133. However, a senator who is also an architect amended the bill to remove architects and landscape architects from the QBS requirements, undermining the requirement for engineers. The governor, working with the bill’s author, state senator Clyde Chambliss Jr., devised a plan to have the governor amend the bill after both chambers passed it to reinstate QBS for architects and landscape architects, but this required both chambers to vote to concur with the governor.

Brian Pallasch, executive vice president & CEO of IIBEC, said of the successful effort, “State Senator Chambliss deserves accolades for his work to educate his fellow legislators about the importance of QBS and restoring QBS in Alabama. He is proof that one legislator can make an incredible difference. Every organization that supports QBS should give him a round of applause for his yeoman’s effort.”

The problem originated when the Alabama legislature overhauled the state’s procurement system in 2022 and inadvertently created a conflict in the law that essentially eliminated the requirement that architect and engineering design services be procured using QBS. The issue came to light when IIBEC contacted local architecture and engineering associations in 2022 to collectively oppose an Alabama Department of Transportation proposal that implemented the new law and eliminated QBS from state-funded infrastructure projects. While that effort was successful, the underlying problem remained.