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Thread: Engineering Services

  1. #11
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    THE NSPE Code of Ethics has been appended https://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics

    As Revised July 2007
    By order of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, former Section 11(c) of the NSPE Code of Ethics prohibiting competitive bidding, and all policy statements, opinions, rulings or other guidelines interpreting its scope, have been rescinded as unlawfully interfering with the legal right of engineers, protected under the antitrust laws, to provide price information to prospective clients; accordingly, nothing contained in the NSPE Code of Ethics, policy statements, opinions, rulings or other guidelines prohibits the submission of price quotations or competitive bids for engineering services at any time or in any amount.
    Statement by NSPE Executive Committee

    In order to correct misunderstandings which have been indicated in some instances since the issuance of the Supreme Court decision and the entry of the Final Judgment, it is noted that in its decision of April 25, 1978, the Supreme Court of the United States declared: "The Sherman Act does not require competitive bidding."
    It is further noted that as made clear in the Supreme Court decision:

    • Engineers and firms may individually refuse to bid for engineering services.
    • Clients are not required to seek bids for engineering services.
    • Federal, state, and local laws governing procedures to procure engineering services are not affected, and remain in full force and effect.
    • State societies and local chapters are free to actively and aggressively seek legislation for professional selection and negotiation procedures by public agencies.
    • State registration board rules of professional conduct, including rules prohibiting competitive bidding for engineering services, are not affected and remain in full force and effect. State registration boards with authority to adopt rules of professional conduct may adopt rules governing procedures to obtain engineering services.
    • As noted by the Supreme Court, "nothing in the judgment prevents NSPE and its members from attempting to influence governmental action . . ."

  2. #12
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    Good points. To be clear we are not being asked to bid or submit estimated cost prior to a RFQ. Also, we are typically a sub-consultant. The prime consultant is being questioned by commissioners during a "all project review" session on why they use us, when another engineer may be hired because they don't "get enough work". The fact that the prime consultant has to defend their position is .

    Undoubtedly the financial comparison is coming after selection and being compared between projects after negotiations. The muni's are exerting pressure for the prime to use another sub-consultant in our place. I suppose the muni's are within their rights to refuse to hire said prime because they are insisting on using us. Although I couldn't speculate a reason why. We provide quality services.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by drktmplr12 View Post
    Good points. To be clear we are not being asked to bid or submit estimated cost prior to a RFQ. Also, we are typically a sub-consultant. The prime consultant is being questioned by commissioners during a "all project review" session on why they use us, when another engineer may be hired because they don't "get enough work". The fact that the prime consultant has to defend their position is .

    Undoubtedly the financial comparison is coming after selection and being compared between projects after negotiations. The muni's are exerting pressure for the prime to use another sub-consultant in our place. I suppose the muni's are within their rights to refuse to hire said prime because they are insisting on using us. Although I couldn't speculate a reason why. We provide quality services.
    politics, 'somebody knows somebody' or personal animosity
    it is not always a fair process

  4. #14
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    par for the course, i suppose.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by drktmplr12 View Post
    par for the course, i suppose.

    rereading some of my posts i feel like i'm coming across as combative. not my intent. was only looking to see if other consultants are running into unusual issues with public purchasing departments.

    thanks for all the comments.

  6. #16
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    A sort of related anecdote from many years ago.
    A paper mill was having a severe sparking problem on the commutator of a very large DC machine. The mill engineers tried everything they could think of from different brush grades, moving the brush gear a few degrees at a time etc. All to no avail. So they called in a consultant. He put a chalk mark on the motor.
    "Remove half a turn from the interpole where marked" was his instruction.

    That worked. The consultant submitted his bill. £5 grand.
    The mill manager wrote to Mr C thanking him for his work but commented that the bill seemed rather high and asking for more detail. He got it.
    "£5 for making a chalk mark. £4,995 for knowing where to put it."
    Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.

  7. #17
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    A lot of reward systems are based on someone reducing CAPEX without regard to how it might inflate the O&M cost to the project. "What's the cost out the door," seems to be the bottom line.

    We need to push for laws requiring qualification based bid reviews in government contracts. Removing unqualified bidders from the process before costs are considered is key to maintaining high-quality services. That will end the race to the bottom lead by cheap poor quality vendors.

  8. #18
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    Could this have stemmed from change orders? Seems like the contractors were drawing a lot of extra cash out of jobs because of one thing or another or from not being on a set of drawings. That could have been from oversights for sure, but the industry is changing drastically right now with the advent of BIM and will eventually evolve to refute things that cost us all money. Just asking. I just hope it morphs into something we can all live with. I can't speak on how much grief there was 50 years ago.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by powersoft View Post
    Could this have stemmed from change orders? Seems like the contractors were drawing a lot of extra cash out of jobs because of one thing or another or from not being on a set of drawings. That could have been from oversights for sure... I can't speak on how much grief there was 50 years ago.
    I don't know this from experience, but I've heard more than one older colleague say that way back when, if there was a critical piece of a project that was overlooked, the contractor would give an honest price and do the work. It wasn't viewed as an opportunity to gouge with twice the labor is takes to do something. There also weren't engineers employed by the contractors whose jobs it was to find change orders. They are literally paid based on how much $ in change order they can generate. Contractor bids low to secure the job, engineer proposes (mostly) absurd reasons to request change orders, we refute them where we can. Like you said-things are changing. This landscape has caused us to present our documents differently, more like lawyers, but I can't speak to others.

    Quote Originally Posted by powersoft View Post
    ...but the industry is changing drastically right now with the advent of BIM and will eventually evolve to refute things that cost us all money.
    I don't foresee owners in public spaces transitioning to BIM anytime soon. Perhaps facility owners, such as universities or high rise commercial buildings already have, or are interested in "living, electronic as-builts". I personally don't think that we need to design electrical in 3D, but i have a feeling I will be getting a new mouse within the next 15 years. We are going to get the same fee as we do to design in 2d, too. More work, same pay.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by drktmplr12 View Post
    I don't foresee owners in public spaces transitioning to BIM anytime soon. Perhaps facility owners, such as universities or high rise commercial buildings already have, or are interested in "living, electronic as-builts". I personally don't think that we need to design electrical in 3D, but i have a feeling I will be getting a new mouse within the next 15 years. We are going to get the same fee as we do to design in 2d, too. More work, same pay.
    I agree with you about the BIM craze. It's a solution in search of a problem. BIM is great for architects, but pretty much a white elephant for us. When it started out, we were able to charge extra because the client required it. It was like that with CAD at first too. I don't know how it'll ever catch on for small projects.

    BTW, my firm does not generally pursue work for government entities for just those reasons stated by the OP. My favorite clients to work for are the electrical contractors. The new clients I work for are usually referrals from the EC's.
    Last edited by JoeStillman; 06-14-18 at 09:46 AM.
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