Selecting Architects and Engineers for Public Building Projects: An Analysis and Comparison of the Maryland and Florida Systems

Design professionals play a critical role in the public building process. The quality of the design services provided by the architect or engineer is the single most important factor in determining the overall construction costs and life-cycle costs of a building. Since design services represent only a small percentage of the initial construction budget, it is in the best interest of the taxpayer to insure that the most qualified firms are selected for public projects.

Recognizing the need for a qualification-based approach to procuring design services, the U.S. Congress established as federal law in 1972 (P.L. 92-582, commonly referred to as the “Brooks Act”) the requirement that architects and engineers be selected for projects on the basis of their qualifications subject to negotiation of fair and reasonable
compensation. Most states and numerous local jurisdictions also use Brooks Act procedures relying on the traditional selection method of negotiating a contract with the firm most qualified to provide the services. Should negotiation fail between the public owner and the highest-ranked firm, negotiations are terminated with that firm.
Negotiations then take place with the second-most-qualified firm and so on down the line in order of their ranking until an agreement is reached.