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Utilizing New Qualifications-Based Contractor Selection Process

In late 2013, M&O adopted a qualifications-based (aka ‘qualified bidding’) method for the evaluation and selection process of engaging contractors. Unlike selecting contractors based primarily on their competitive bid quote, the qualifications-based selection (QBS) process provides a focus on quality and value, not only bid price. QBS is a procurement method in which the final criteria for selection are largely qualifications and demonstrated competence, although price is a factor and included in the overall evaluation.

Ironically and favorably, shifting the evaluation emphasis from lowest to most qualified bidder results in a better product, more advantageous warranty, and ultimately less cost. The QBS process awards the job to the bidder who most meets the minimum standards of experience; resources and financial ability; managerial ability; reputation; and work history for a specified class of goods, services, or projects. Observing these criteria recognizes an important and long overlooked fact: large project expertise is not a commodity. Complex and adept skills are knowledge and service. QBS emphasizes the reality that construction, electrical, and mechanical teams bring to each project the historical knowledge gleaned from previously working with APS, each other, and on education related maintenance projects. The time intensive acclimation and/or learning curve of a proven maintenance team serving APS is significantly reduced or altogether eliminated. Change orders are reduced significantly when an APS experienced contractor performs the important job, often also large and/or urgent. The cost of APS renovations carried out by the lowest bidders in 2013 was $114 per student. The cost of renovations executed by the most qualified bidders in 2014 was $31 per student, a whopping 72.8% decrease in many cases. While contributing conditions and circumstances surely differed between 2013 and 2014 jobs in terms of size and type, there is no doubt that the QBS system aids in keeping project expenses down and within budget.

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