Few City Candidates Concerned About Infrastructure Overspending
A survey conducted last week by QBS Canada, questioned Winnipeg civic election candidates about exploring new ways of hiring architects, engineers, and construction management firms to design and build Winnipeg’s infrastructure.
Currently Winnipeg uses a hiring process that favours low-bidders over more qualified bidders and according to research from around the globe, selecting a low-bidder actually results in higher costs and lower quality.
Research funded by the American Public Works Association in partnership with the American Council of Engineering Companies indicates average low-bid construction projects go over budget by 10% but when price is not an initial selection factor, construction overages are only 3%. That means Winnipeg taxpayers could be saving tens of millions of dollars of unnecessary spending each year.
Qualifications Based Selection is growing in popularity across Canada and has been required by law in the United States federal government since 1972. As well, 47 states have QBS legislation. For over a decade the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has identified QBS as the “best practice” when hiring architects and engineers for infrastructure projects and earlier this year the Government of Canada announced it will be undertaking a QBS pilot project.
Since the city has adopted other FCM best practices, QBS Canada President Cal Harrison wonders why it hasn’t also adopted QBS. He noted that QBS is supported by most professional engineering, architecture, and construction associations around the globe.
“There is a mountain of evidence illustrating that by favouring low-bidders, it costs taxpayers more money than if they focused on selecting the most qualified firms.”
Harrison compared the QBS process to hiring employees. “When you hire a staff architect for example do you select the cheapest one? Of course not - you tell candidates here’s the salary we can afford to pay, if you are interested, tell us why you are the best candidate. And then after reviewing resumes and doing interviews, you find the best candidate and you negotiate final terms and salary with only that one. So why do we demand low-bids from architects, engineers and construction management experts when we hire them as contractors? Winnipeg is a progressive city so it’s kind of embarrassing to be so far behind the rest of the world on this best practice. Especially since it costs nothing to start using QBS.”
QBS Canada asked Winnipeg mayoral and councillor candidates if they would “explore the implementation of Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) for the procurement of architecture, engineering and construction management services at the City of Winnipeg?”
Of 9 mayoral candidates only 5 responded (Jenny Motkaluk, Doug Wilson, Don Woodstock, Tim Diack and Desmond Thomas), and of 40 city councillor candidates only 20 responded. The only 2 incumbents to respond were Janice Lukes and Shawn Dobson. All candidates that did respond were in favour of exploring QBS with the exception of one candidate that felt he would have to abstain given that his employer currently bids on infrastructure projects for the city.
“What the survey shows is a disappointing lack of interest by most of our Winnipeg election candidates, especially the incumbents, in even just exploring - never mind implementing - new and better ways to reduce our taxes while also improving the quality of our city infrastructure. Of those that did choose to respond many also requested more information or meetings on the subject.”
Of the 12 candidates currently on council (including the mayor) that are seeking re-election only 2 responded to the survey – Councillors Lukes and Dobson.
City Wards that had no candidates responding included St. Boniface, St. Vital, Elmwood – East Kildonan, and North Kildonan.
The survey has the support of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of Manitoba (ACEC Manitoba), Manitoba Heavy Construction Association (MHCA), Winnipeg Construction Association (WCA), Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Certified Technicians and Technologists Association of Manitoba (CTTAM).
The complete email and list of respondents can be found at QBSCanada.ca
August 27, 2018
Contact: Cal Harrison, President, QBS Canada
1 (204) 293-2411
About QBS Canada
QBS Canada is a coalition of associations, companies, and professionals advocating for the use of Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) when hiring professional services firms in Canada.
Subject: Candidate Response Requested by August 24th
Dear Winnipeg Civic Election Candidate,
QBS Canada is interested in hearing if mayoral and councillor candidates, if elected, will put forward and support a motion in council to strike a committee to explore the implementation of Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) for the procurement of architecture, engineering and construction management services at the City of Winnipeg.
The City of Winnipeg currently uses low price as a significant part of their selection process when hiring architecture, engineering and construction management firms to build public infrastructure. It has been widely recognized by governments and industry around the globe that procuring these services with a price-based procurement process increases long-term costs and construction delays while also decreasing quality, innovation, and end-user satisfaction – especially when procuring architecture, engineering and construction management services to design and build public infrastructure.
The recognized best alternative to price-based selection is QBS, where price is negotiated with the most qualified candidate once they have been selected based on their expertise, experience, past similar projects, etc. Most governments, including the City of Winnipeg, believe they are achieving best value by including price as part of the selection criteria. However, decades of international evidence clearly shows that low price does not equal best value – that best value is more likely to be achieved when qualified candidates are given the opportunity to negotiate scope, innovation, and appropriate fees to meet the specific needs of the project.
Because of the improved project outcomes that have been shown to stem from QBS, the United States federal government enacted the Brooks Act in 1972, legislating the use of QBS when hiring architecture or engineering firms for federal government projects. And since 1972, 47 states have implemented similar legislation. Several Canadian jurisdictions such, as Coquitlam, the province of Quebec and the City of Calgary, already use QBS and more are going down the QBS path. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (of which Winnipeg is a member) has declared QBS to be the best practice for hiring architects and engineers for infrastructure projects. And in February of this year the Canadian Federal Government announced that it will undertake a QBS pilot program for architecture and engineering services.
The use of QBS as a best-practice for procuring professional engineering, architecture, engineering and construction management services is endorsed by the following local, provincial and federal organizations:
• Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of Manitoba (ACEC Manitoba)
• Manitoba Heavy Construction Association (MHCA)
• Winnipeg Construction Association (WCA)
• Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce
• Certified Technicians and Technologists Association of Manitoba (CTTAM)
• QBS Canada
• And many others…
Below are links to websites and videos (including a TEDx talk) that you might find helpful to better understand QBS procurement.
As well, if you would like a copy of the QBS Canada guide to QBS procurement please let us know and we will be pleased to send you a digital copy.
QBS Canada would like your response for the record.
“If elected, will you put forward and support a motion in council to strike a committee to explore the implementation of Qualifications Based Selection for the procurement of architecture, engineering and construction management services at the City of Winnipeg?”
We hope to hear back from you by the end of the day on August 24th.
Cal Harrison CMC, BA, MBA
1 (204) 293-2411
Mayoral Candidates That Did Respond
Councillor Candidates That Did Respond
Gary Lenko (River Heights – Fort Garry)
Shawn Dobson (St. James)
Glenn Churchill - responded but deferred decision until after election (St. Norbert – Seine River)
Wally Welechenko (Transcona)
Janice Lukes (Waverly West)
Kevin Klein (Charleswood – Tuxedo)
Kevin Nichols (Charleswood – Tuxedo)
Josh Brandon (Daniel McIntyre)
Peter Koroma (Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry)
Harry Wolbert (Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry)
Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry)
Michael Thompson (Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry)
Bryanna Spina (Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry)
Jeff Palmer (Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry)
Micheal Wiens (Mynarski)
Brad Gross (Old Kildonan)
Kaur Sidhu (Old Kildonan)
Kate Sjoberg (Point Douglas)
Dean Koshelanyk (Point Douglas)
Filippo Palmisani (Point Douglas)