Former Texas Congressman Remembered as QBS Champion

Jan/Feb 2013

PE Report
Former Texas Congressman Remembered as QBS Champion

U.S. Congressman Jack Brooks When the architecture and engineering community needed a strong advocate on Capitol Hill, they found it in the former U.S. Congressman Jack Brooks of Texas. Brooks, who died on December 4 at the age of 89, will long be remembered for his role in enacting legislation requiring the federal government to use qualifications-based selection for design services.

Brooks, known as a feisty, cigar-chewing old-school Democrat, was elected to represent his Southeast Texas district in 1952. In 1972, he introduced the Brooks Architect/Engineer Act, requiring federal agencies to use QBS procedures when procuring design services. Under this method, the procuring agency reviews the qualifications submitted by interested individuals and firms, ranks respondents, and then negotiates with the most qualified respondent for the best contract. The legislation passed the House 276?114 and was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on October 27, 1972. Brooks served in Congress for 42 years until he was defeated in 1994.

In an October 2006 PE article, Brooks described how he realized that there were real problems in the procurement of government services. Prior to passage of the act, architects and engineers were too often hired based on favoritism and low-bids for services. He noted that the legislation helped to save taxpayer dollars and resulted in improved infrastructure. "We've built billions of dollars worth of equipment and infrastructure in this country with architects and engineers. And we saved billions of dollars by building 'em right," he states. "If you build it right, you have normal repair and normal maintenance, and that's what you're looking for as an owner, as the government."

Forty-seven states have since implemented some form of QBS laws and numerous localities have also adopted laws known as "mini-Brooks" acts. They require states and localities to use QBS procedures when procuring design services. Other states and localities have adopted regulations or executive orders that accomplish the same objectives as the statutes.

Brooks worked closely with the Council on Federal Procurement of Architectural and Engineering Services throughout his career. The U.S. is a better place for Brooks' service in Congress, says NSPE Past President and COFPAES Chairman Christopher Stone, P.E., F.NSPE. "The American people," said Stone in a statement, "enjoy and benefit from the wise investment of public dollars in architecture, engineering, and related services that has enhanced our quality of life, saved tax dollars, and placed an emphasis on competition in procurement based on demonstrated competence."