The Need for Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) of Engineering Services in Ontario

As the engineering advocacy body, OSPE believes that the Government of Ontario should adopt Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) for procurement of engineering services as a post-COVID-19 economic recovery tool.

Given Ontario’s current economic situation, it is essential that all public infrastructure investments be transparent and return the greatest possible value for money. By adopting Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) as a best practice, the government will select engineering firms based on their credentials, previous performance, and availability to do a project over low-fee biding structures.  

Why use QBS?

QBS is an internationally recognized best practice for the procurement of engineering services. It is a competitive, sound, and fair process that selects firms that are best qualified for the project. This best practice has been mandated by law in the United States since the 1970s (The Brooks Act), and more recently in the city of Calgary and province of Quebec.

QBS protects the public interest over the life cycle of the project, including design, construction, operations, maintenance and eventual upgrading or de-commissioning.

QBS is the smartest tool to ensure post-COVID-19 economic recovery throughout Ontario.

Benefit to Ontarians:

  1. Better value to taxpayers

QBS encourages innovation, which in turn drives better value on infrastructure investments. It provides accountability by ensuring that fees will directly correspond to the level of service and the value of deliverables to be provided. QBS also results in more realistic and predictable budgets and schedules for project expenditures.

  1. Significant life-cycle savings

QBS maximizes the value of the consultant’s contribution to a project while reducing the project’s life cycle costs. Engineering typically accounts for only about 2% of the life cycle cost of a project, but dramatically impacts the cost and quality of the remaining 98%.

Likewise, a recent American Public Works Association study shows that using QBS for professional services reduces construction cost overruns from an average of 10% to less than 3% – equivalent to a savings of up to $700K on a $10M capital project.

  1. Benefits for small firms

QBS enables small firms to compete by providing them a process to demonstrate their competitive advantages over larger firms, including a greater degree of niche market expertise, knowledge of the local market and involvement of senior level management in the execution of the project.

  1. Promotes communication and technical innovation

Using QBS provides owners the opportunity to fully define the scope of work of the project during the selection process. This results in a project that is thoroughly thought out and fosters innovative, creative, cost and time-saving approaches to problems. It also fosters better communication and business relationships between owners and proponents as the process makes them partners in the job.


Help OSPE tell the Ontario government to adopt the global best practice of Qualifications-Based Selection when it procures engineering services. Right now the lowest price wins at Queen’s Park, and we all know that does not always yield quality engineering. 

Add your voice and tell the government they need quality, not low-price.

It’s good for Ontarian’s safety, it’s good for your company’s ability to hire and retain the best talent, and that means it’s good for all salaries in our engineering community. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.

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