A contemporaneous study by the American Institute of Architects examined the facility project selection process for Maryland and Florida. Florida law allows agencies to select architectural/engineering (A/E) contractors on the basis of technical competence or other quality-based criteria. In Maryland, the procurement laws meant that price had to be the dominant selection factor. The study found that in Maryland, it took 33 percent longer to complete a project.48 The total project delivery cycle was 49 months in Maryland and 36 and 35 months, respectively, for the Florida Department of General Services and the Florida State University
System (see Figure 1).49
In 1985, Maryland legislators recognized that longer schedules mean higher total
costs and reformed their procurement laws to allow more quality-based selections. Though there has not been a follow-up study, there is general satisfaction that project schedules and costs are within reason.50
Source: American Institute of Architects, Selecting Architects and Engineers for Public Building Projects: An Analysis and Comparison of the Maryland and Florida Systems (Washington, D.C.: American Institute of Architects, 1985), p. 51.
The ascendance of best-value selection criteria is rooted in the simple concept of value—recognizing that the cheapest is not always the most desirable. Requiring the government to always buy the cheapest assumes all other things are equal—which they rarely are. The more complex the procurement or outsourcing is, the more important issues besides lowest absolute cost will be. With infrastructure, a range of issues are central to best- value selections, starting with quality but including flexibility, speed, expertise, efficiency, innovation, and risk management. We will discuss all of those factors and their role in infrastructure outsourcing, and we will finish this section with a detailed look at the messy issue of cost savings.
American Institute of Architects, Selecting Architects and Engineers for Public Building Projects: An Analysis and Comparison of the Maryland and Florida Systems (Washington, D.C.: American Institute of Architects, 1985), p. 51.
Ibid. Jim Otradovec, executive director, Consulting Engineers Council of Maryland, interview with author, June 2000.