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How to Select a Consulting Engineer
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  1. Prepare as complete a description as possible of the proposed project, including the purpose to be served, proposed budget, desired date for start of operation, and other pertinent factors which will affect the engineering services agreement.
  2. Request the consulting engineers to furnish their qualifications.
  3. Select one or more consulting engineers whom the client believes to be qualified for the specific services required.
  4. After one or more firms have been interviewed separately, a firm should be selected that has the proper qualifications and ability and, in the opinion of the client, is the most qualified to perform the services in question.
  5. The selected firm should be called in for negotiation of fees and related expenses as well as an agreement on essential details in connection with the project.
  6. State, governmental agencies, or political subdivisions are required to follow procedures under the Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act (CCNA), which was adopted by the State Legislature in 1973.

The CCNA legislation sets forth specific requirements and procedures for contracting professional services to be used by the state, its agencies, municipalities or political subdivisions, school boards, and school districts.

This selection procedure is based on qualification and competence. It covers the selection of Professional Engineers, Architects, Registered Land Surveyors, and Landscape Architects and the negotiation of fees for their professional services and applies to a planning or study activity where compensation
exceeds $25,000 and in projects where the basic cost of construction, as estimated by the agency, will exceed $250,000.

This procedure provides a simple and effective four-step process, including:

a. Public Announcement of the Project. Public notice of requirements for professional services is made, including a description of the project and how interested consultants can apply for consideration.

b. Qualification and Certification of Firms. Qualifications of those firms indicating an interest in the project are received. Those firms found to be qualified to render the required services are so certified by the agency.

c. Selection of Certified Qualified Firms. The qualifications of the certified firms are rated and compared. No less than three firms are then selected and ranked in order of preference, based on their qualifications.

d. Negotiation of Professional Service Contracts. The agency negotiates a contract with the firm ranked as the most qualified, at a compensation which is fair, competitive, and reasonable. Detailed discussions are held by the firm and the agency to clearly establish the scope of the project and the exact work to be done. Such negotiations are usually successful; however, should the two parties fail to agree upon the level of compensation, negotiations with the first firm are terminated and negotiations are commenced with the second-ranked firm. If again unsuccessful, the process is repeated with the next highest-ranked firm.

This procedure is widely used by industry and agencies in many other states that are knowledgeable and experienced in the selection of consulting engineers and other design professionals. It is also in accord with Public Law 92-582 (Brooks Bill), which sets forth federal policy concerning the selection of design professionals for federal agencies.

The Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act has proven to be a fair, effective, and economical means of contracting for professional design services.

Florida Experience Can Be Important to You

It is vital that an owner obtain the services of an engineer familiar with the physical environment of Florida, which differs in many respects from that in most other states. Florida is a hurricane-exposed, subtropical, low-lying peninsula.

Engineers who lack demonstrated familiarity with Florida conditions may not have the experience to cope with the unique environment safely and economically. Engineers with a record of successful work in the state may reasonably be assumed to have the requisite experience. An owner is well advised to inquire carefully and resolve any doubts in these matters.