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IIBEC Opposition Helps Defeat Anti-QBS Bill in Illinois

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June 9, 2024

By John Boling

IIBEC, in conjunction with other design and construction groups, succeeded in killing legislation in Illinois that would sidestep the qualifications-based selection (QBS) of architects, engineers, and design professionals.

Introduced in the Illinois state senate in late April, S. 3932  would have amended the state procurement code to allow state agencies and school districts to use job order contracting (cooperative purchasing) to procure construction services—which, as defined in the bill, include architecture/engineering/design services.

Since 1992 Illinois code (30-ILCS-535) has required the procurement of architectural, engineering, and land surveying services to be done on the basis of demonstrated competence and qualifications so that contracts could be negotiated at fair and reasonable prices.

IIBEC wrote to the chair of the state senate committee that decides which committee a new bill is referred to for consideration and asked her to hold the bill until the legislative session ended on May 24, 2024, which would’ve effectively killed the bill. Simultaneously, a coalition of construction and architectural interests was also working to prevent the bill from being attached to another bill.

As the 103rd session of the Illinois Legislature came to a close, supporters of S. 3932 had failed to garner support for their effort, and the bill died.

The IIBEC letter, signed by Brian Pallasch, CAE, executive vice president and CEO of IIBEC; Charles Sietmann, RRO, REWO, CCA, CIT, and IIBEC Region III director; and Melissa Barrows-Lieb, RRC, RRO, CCCA, CDT, and the IIBEC Chicago Area Chapter president, states:

The RCI-IIBEC Foundation research study An Analysis of Unit-Price Procurement revealed that construction project purchasing programs based on unit price procurement (cooperative purchasing, job order contracting, and multiple award schedules) have significant shortcomings. The misapplication of the process negatively affects key stakeholders, and in some cases may affect public safety. Specifically, using unit price procurement to procure design and construction services often leads to wasted taxpayer dollars and risk to public safety. Recognizing these risks, some governmental entities have severely limited or banned unit price procurement for design and construction services.

Pallasch noted that there is a reason that the letter includes the line, “When it comes to the design of buildings, roads, bridges, or water systems, the citizens of Illinois are best served by experienced professionals—not the lowest bidder. As numerous cases have proven, when price is the primary determinant, corners may be cut, and public safety is put at risk.” Pallasch continued, “I appreciate Charlie’s and Melissa’s signature on our letter because it reinforces our message to legislators that QBS is supported at the national level and the state level.”