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ACEC Ohio wins legislative approval of major QBS law amendment

When Governor John Kasich put his signature on the state budget bill Thursday, he also signed into law a major change in the state's Qualifications-Based Selection law for design professionals.

The amendment to the state QBS law obtained by ACEC Ohio eliminates the existing exemption for state and local government design contracts with an estimated fee of less than $25,000 (Ohio Revised Code §153.71 (A).

Instead, the new law provides that design projects with an estimated fee of less than $50,000 would be exempt from most of the requirements of the QBS law (i.e., announcement of the availability of the project, evaluation of statements of qualification, ranking of firms, etc.) if two very important conditions are met.

First, the public agency must select a "single design professional or firm from among those that have submitted a current statement of qualifications within the preceding year...."

Second, and most important, the public agency and the selected firm must negotiate a contract for the services required.

Essentially, this change in the law will allow public agencies to "direct select" a single firm for the design of a small project while bypassing most of the administrative requirements associated with selecting an A/E firm for a large project.

The key is that, even on small projects, public agencies are now required to negotiate a contract with the selected firm.  This should help eliminate situations in which public agencies simply use competitive bidding to award small contracts.

"This amendment represents a win-win for local governments and for the design professions," said ACEC Ohio Executive Director Don Mader.

"It makes it easier for local governments to quickly select engineering firms and get them under contract for the design of small projects while extending the QBS requirement to even the smallest of design projects," he said.

The new language will take effect in early October, 90 days after the budget bill is formally filed with the office of the Ohio Secretary of State.





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