QBS Process & Procedures

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Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) is an objective and fair process used by the City of Newport to select architects and or engineers based on the design professionals' qualifications and competence in relation to the project.


Rhode Island General Law § 45-55-8.1 Qualification based selection (QBS) of architects and engineers states:

"When the Purchasing Agent determines that the city or town needs the services of a professional architect or engineer, the purchasing agent shall follow the qualification based selection process for the procurement of architectural and engineering consulting services."

Selecting design professionals is one of the keys to a successful project. The design will determine the construction costs, financial and functional feasibility as well as the operation and maintenance costs during the life of the project.

The City of Newport uses this proven (QBS) selection system to ensure that the best firm is selected to design a current project, and to represent them during construction of the facility. This helps to prevent competing design firms from "fee bidding" and cutting the scope of work performed to secure the bid. The design team will make certain that appropriate project analysis, engineering and economic studies are made. The project benefits from this professional service and is delivered in a functional, efficient manner, within budget and on time.

The QBS procedure demonstrates the following benefits

  • Ensures that the most "qualified" Architect or Engineer professional is retained for the project, thereby providing safeguards for competent design and minimizing construction problems and claims.
  • Saves the City time and money through an organized approach that gets the design professional on board early enough to improve project planning, minimize total project costs, and help prevent costly mistakes.
  • Encourages the development of a productive team effort between the City and the design professional, because they develop the scope of work together. This provides increased client satisfaction.

How does the QBS Process work in Newport?

RFQ Posting

The City announces its requirement for A/E services for a project and issues a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) package using our e-Procurement System .


The agency reviews and evaluates all the A/E submissions and develops a "short list" of three to five firms. A ranking matrix is provided in the RFQ package. The Ranking/Evaluation is posted as a "Bid Tabulation" on our e-Procurement System.


 The agency staff interviews and ranks the (short list) of A/E teams.  The agency rates all the firms and selects the top ranking firm in order of qualifications, philosophies, project management, and client references contained within their submittals.

Note: The City may request that a fee structure (in a separate sealed envelope) be submitted with qualifications. It is opened only at the Negotiation phase.

Fees - In small dollar projects, fees could be included as a factor. Fee weight would be outlined within that specific QBS package.

  1. Negotiation   

    The top-rated firm is invited into negotiations with the agency to develop both a detailed scope of work and a formal contract and detailed fee, based on this approved scope of work.

    If the agency cannot negotiate a reasonable fee with the first-ranked firm, it will terminate negotiations with that firm and start with the second-ranked or then third-ranked firm if required, until a successful agreement is reached.

    Again, none of the firms are put into a situation to compete fees with each other. Fees discussed are not conveyed to any other firm, and are not a consideration when negotiating with the other ranked firms. Please take note on "Fees" above on small dollar projects.

  2. Award   

    When an agreement has been reached between the City and the A/E firm through negotiation, the complete package is submitted to the City Council for approval, and ultimately a contract.


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