Awards Recognize QBS Standouts

November/December 2019

NSPE Today
Awards Recognize QBS Standouts


NSPE’s vision is “a world where the public can be confident that engineering decisions affecting their lives are made by qualified and ethically accountable professionals.” Part of developing that confidence is ensuring that engineering services are performed by professionals chosen for their qualifications—such as design ability, experience, and integrity—versus the lowest bid.

To recognize entities that make “exemplary use” of a qualifications-based selection process, NSPE and the American Council of Engineering Companies present annual QBS Awards. Nominations must originate from an NSPE state society, an ACEC member organization, a public or private entity, or an individual in the public or private sector.

The 2019 honors went to the following:

Federal Government Sector Winner

Western Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration: The nomination stated, “Despite continual pressure to modify their procurement procedures, they have held fast to the rule that professional engineering consultants should be selected first, followed by a reasonable negotiation of their fees.”

State or Local Government 
Sector Winner

City of Portland, Maine: Nominated for the selection process for the Portland International Jetport. The submission noted that the process “delivers high quality and cost-effective services for Maine taxpayers, and a fair and transparent process for selection of A/E services based on qualifications only.”

Merit Award Winners

City of Austin, Texas: Nominated for its professionalism and consistency in using QBS for hiring of PEs, architects, and land surveyors. The nominator noted she had “found no other government agency that is as consistent, as fair, and as compliant with the QBS process as the City of Austin.”

New Jersey Department of Transportation: Nominated for its 25-year commitment to the QBS process, and for its partnership with the Federal Highway Administration.

Award winners were slated to receive a trophy and recognition October 15 in Chicago during ACEC’s fall conference.

Learn more about the QBS Award and see a list of past recipients at


According to Position Statement No. 08-131:

“It is the policy of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) that all engineering services should be performed by qualified engineers on the basis of design ability, experience, integrity and judgment. Engineering is a learned profession, requiring of its members sound technical experience, personal ability, education, honesty, and integrity.

To implement this principle, NSPE supports a Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) procedure for all engineering services procurement. With QBS, the interests of all professional services users are best served by a selection procedure for all engineering services on the basis of qualifications, including technical competence and staff consistent with the requirement of the project. The selection procedure should address specialized knowledge and skill, experience in the type of project involved, assignment of qualified personnel, ability of the engineers to perform on a timely basis, recognition of the importance of total cost of the project within budgetary limitations, and such other areas of expertise as may be identified by the owner for prime consultant services, or the prime consultant for the subconsultant services.

NSPE recommends a QBS procedure for procurement of consultant and subconsultant engineering services that recognizes the desirability of the opportunity for engineers and firms to be considered on their merits in the selection process, and further recognize that a means be provided whereby professionally qualified engineers or firms be ranked on the basis of ability to provide the service, followed by negotiations with the best qualified engineer or firm to determine a mutually satisfactory agreement for the scope of services agreed upon.”

Access all of NSPE’s professional policies and position statements.