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What is QBS?

QBS stands for “qualifications-based selection.” It is a process that helps you select the highest qualified professional A/E firm. The process focuses on A/E firms’ qualifications and competence in relation to the scope and particular needs of your project. The QBS process is: 

  • Straightforward,
  • Easy to implement,
  • Objective and fair, and
  • A well-documented and defensible process.

Why use QBS?

  • QBS provides an objective, step-by-step process that allows you to select the highest qualified A/E firm based on qualifications specific to the needs of your project.
  • QBS develops a successful and cooperative relationship between you and the A/E firm.
  • QBS benefits both you and the A/E firm by saving time and money.
  • QBS gets the A/E firm on board early enough to improve project planning, minimize total project costs and enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

Who uses QBS?
Since 1972, with passage of the Brooks Act, the federal government requires QBS for its A/E services procurement.

  • State of Wisconsin agencies require the use of the QBS process to select A/E firms.
  • QBS is endorsed and promoted by the American Public Works Association.
  • QBS is recommended by the American Bar Association in their model procurement codes and is currently used by most states, numerous localities and private owners.

The following organizations support and promote the QBS process:

  • American Bar Association
  • American Council of Engineering Companies
  • American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin
  • American Institute of Architects
  • American Institute of Architects Wisconsin
  • American Public Works Association
  • Federal Highway Administration
  • League of Wisconsin Municipalities
  • National Society of Professional Engineers
  • United States Army Corps of Engineers
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Wisconsin Department of Transportation
  • Wisconsin Division of Facilities Development
  • Wisconsin Rural Water Association
  • Wisconsin Towns Association

Can public agencies use QBS?

Yes. In fact, if federal funds are involved in your project, a QBS process is required for selecting your A/E firm.


How much time will QBS take?

Depending on the project and the number of decision-makers, it can take from one week to five months. Two to three months is common.

Is there help to implement the QBS process?

Yes. A QBS Manual is available. It contains step-by-step assistance, including helpful instructions, forms, samples and more. In addition, a facilitator is available to assist you in developing a selection process and answer questions.

Resources available:


What is a QBS facilitator?

A QBS facilitator is a person who works with you to develop an appropriate selection process tailored for your specific project.

What does a QBS facilitator cost?

QBS facilitation is FREE.

Contact ACEC WI or AIA Wisconsin as early in the planning process as possible for information and assistance.

What can a QBS facilitator do? 

  • Meet with your board, committees, staff and other groups to provide QBS selection information.
  • Help customize QBS materials to meet the project’s special needs.
  • Provide guidance and answer questions throughout the selection process.
  • Provide resources, such as directories of architectural and professional engineering firms.

What won’t a QBS facilitator do? 

  • Recommend any individual firm.
  • Evaluate or critique any individual firm.
  • Participate in the interview process or contract negotiations between you and the selected firm.
  • Provide estimates for A/E services or construction costs.