Criteria in consultant selection: public procurement of architectural and engineering services
The competence, commitment and attitudes of design consultants strongly influence the quality and costs of built facilities. However, in the selection of professional services it is often difficult to specify and assess non-price criteria related to both firms and individual consultants. Therefore, clients traditionally rely on long term relations or recommendations from clients or colleagues. Public procurement regulation, however, restricts the use of such informal data. This study seeks to understand how procurers act to reconcile these conflicting demands.
An explorative questionnaire survey distributed to Swedish municipalities investigates which selection criteria and information sources are used, as well as perceived difficulties and shortcomings related to consultancy procurement. Results show a high focus on price or more easily measured non-price criteria. This might limit the ability of municipal officials to evaluate consultant competence, especially aspects related to design and execution of projects. Furthermore, personal information sources are widely used, indicating a conflict between procurement practice and existing regulation. Unexpectedly, procurement officials were generally satisfied with their procurement practice. However, managers and more experienced procurers tend to be more satisfied than other officials. Satisfaction also appears to be connected to the existence of a procurement policy and more advanced selection methods.
Keywords: public procurement, selection, consultants, Sweden