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March 28, 2005

University Honored For
Contractor Selection Process

UConn has won a national award for the method in which architects and engineers are hired to design new and renovated buildings.

The 2005 National Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) Grand Award was given to UConn after judging by the National Society of Professional Engineers and the American Council of Engineering Companies, a trade organization representing more than 5,000 engineering firms.

The University will be honored during a luncheon and awards program April 12, during the Council’s annual convention in Washington, D.C.

The awards program honors companies and state agencies that effectively protect and promote QBS methods to procure engineering services at state and local levels. QBS is the practice of hiring architectural and engineering firms based not on the lowest bid but on the company’s qualifications for a specific building project. The best price is then negotiated.

“I’m very pleased that we have been recognized for a process that for the past decade has been instrumental in the construction and renovation of many quality and innovative buildings on the Storrs and regional campuses,” says University President Philip E. Austin. “Many of our buildings have highly technical needs that require specific expertise in their design, and this process makes selecting the right company possible.”

American Council of Engineering Companies officials praise QBS because they say having design and engineering work done properly lays the foundation for construction of a successful, problem-free building, and the selection of a firm should not be left to the vagaries of a low bid.

UConn also has a pre-qualification process for contractors who are hired for construction work, a process that asks interested contractors to submit information on a range of their characteristics, from customer satisfaction to a history of completing projects on time and within budget. Firms that meet the qualifications are then allowed to bid on the project.

UConn also won a QBS award – from the American Council of Engineering Companies-Connecticut chapter – in 2003. In 2004, the architects of the Biology/Physics Building and the Waterbury campus each won design awards from the American Institute of Architects, and in 1998 Centerbrook Associates won an award from the same institute for their design of the new chemistry building.

UConn also was honored in 2002 by the Energy Conservation Management Board for incorporating energy-saving designs in UConn 2000 projects that, between 1996 and 2001, had saved state taxpayers more than $24 million.

UConn officials have used the QBS method for all but a handful of the more than three dozen new building projects and many of the about 70 renovation projects worth more than $1 million that have occurred since the advent of UConn 2000.

The American Council of Engineering Companies is the business association of America’s engineering industry, representing approximately 5,500 independent engineering companies throughout the United States.