Professional Services - Summary of Procedures


Professional Consultant Contracting

Florida law requires state agencies using certain professional consultants to acquire the services of those consultants by competitive negotiation. The process mandated by statute (287.055 F.S.), administrative rule (Rule 14-75, F.A.C.), and departmental operating procedures requires a competitive selection of the consultants based on qualifications, followed by a negotiation process to establish a fee for the desired services. A summary of the various aspects of the Department's contracting process for these services follow:

Professional Services

The types of services statutorily designated for this process include engineering, survey and mapping, architecture, landscape architecture, planning, and right of way services. The Department typically uses this process for activities including planning, project development and environmental studies, design, construction engineering inspection (CEI), and right of way services.

Prequalification Process

The Department has identified a number of types of work for which consultants are frequently used. Consultants desiring to compete for contracts in these standard types of work are required to prequalify annually. This process involves demonstration of technical qualification for requested types of work as well as administrative qualification. Administrative qualification includes demonstration of an adequate job cost accounting system and submittal of an overhead audit performed by an independent CPA.

Consultants may elect to become only technically qualified or to become technically qualified with an approved unlimited audit. To contract with the Department, consultants must be technically qualified in accordance with the advertisement language. If the total contract cost exceeds $500,000, the consultant must be technically qualified with an approved unlimited audit.

Subconsultants who are used to meet qualification requirements for responses to advertised Department projects must be technically qualified. Technically qualified consultants, whose work is to exceed $500,000, must also have an acceptable job cost accounting system and must submit an overhead audit performed by an independent CPA.

Prequalification is not required for professional services that do not conform to the Department's standard types of work. However, consultants selected for such services are required to have an acceptable job cost accounting system and independent overhead rate audit performed by a CPA if the contract fee exceeds $500,000. Additionally, the Consultant must submit proof of professional liability insurance and have an active Certificate of Authorization.

Advertisement of Projects

Annually, the Department develops a list of planned consultant projects for each district with anticipated solicitation dates. These are published on the Department's Procurement website as planned projects. Then, each week, a list of actual solicitations are published on the Professional Services advertisements website as current advertisements. This announcement requests letters of response from any consultants who are prequalified in the needed type(s) of work and are interested in being considered for the project. The letters of response are submitted on a standard form in accordance with the advertisement.

Shortlisting Process

All letters of response from prequalified firms are reviewed, together with the Detailed Consultant Analysis Report (or shortlist profile) on the respondents based on prequalification information and past performance with the Department. A technical review committee provides recommendations as to the top ten respondents to a selection committee composed of top management personnel. The selection committee then selects at least three of the respondents as a shortlist. An announcement of the consultants shortlisted for the project is published on the advertisement website.

Final Selection Process

The shortlisted consultants are provided a formal request for proposal (RFP) which will include a copy of the scope of service. For more complex projects, a Scope of Services meeting may be held to discuss the scope of services as well as addressing any other questions from the shortlisted consultants. The RFP will specify whether proposals are to be written, or the consultant will participate in an oral presentation, or interviews, or a combination thereof. Upon receipt of the technical proposals, they are scored by the technical review committee. The selection committee then reviews the scores along with other pertinent information and ranks the consultants in order of preference. The resulting ranking for the project is published on the advertisement website.

Negotiation of Fee

The number one ranked consultant is requested to provide a fee proposal for the project, and an independent staff hour estimate is prepared by the Department. Negotiations are conducted to resolve any differences between the Consultant and FDOT staff hour estimates and to establish fair, competitive and reasonable rates for consultant personnel and for any direct expenses. Typically, the fee is developed using negotiated staff hours, negotiated hourly rates for staff, actual consultant overhead (based on the overhead audit), audited FCCM (Facilities Capital Cost of Money) and audited direct expense rate, and negotiated operating margin. The fee may be structured as a lump sum amount, a limiting amount based on actual hours worked or as a combination of the two.

If an agreed upon fee cannot be negotiated, negotiations with the number one ranked firm are terminated and negotiations are begun with the number two ranked firm. The process is continued in this manner until a fee is established.

Structure of Contract

The standard format for professional consultant contracts include a standard contract document which specifies the term of the agreement as well as the legal responsibilities and rights of both parties, an Exhibit A which describes the scope of services, and an Exhibit B which describes the method of compensation.

As described above, the method of compensation may be established a lump sum amount or as a limiting amount. With a lump sum agreement, the consultant will be provided an agreed upon amount for completion of the contract, regardless of the effort expended in completing the services. With a limiting amount agreement, the consultant is obligated to complete the services with compensation based upon documented actual hours worked and/or expenses incurred up to the agreed upon limiting amount. For task assignment type contracts, a fee is negotiated with each task work order. Task work orders may be lump sum, limiting amount, or a combination.

Contract Modification

Within prevailing law, contract terms may be amended upon mutual agreement of both parties to the contract. If additional services are determined to be required during the course of the project, a contract amendment may be negotiated to provide for such services.

Performance Evaluation

The consultant is given a performance evaluation by the Department's project manager. The Performance evaluations are based on quality, scheduling and management. The consultant is provided a copy of the performance rating and it is entered into the Department's database for consideration at the time of future selections.

Contract Auditing

Consultant contracts are subject to a post audit at the completion of the services or at other times within the term of the project.

Pertinent Statutes and Administrative Rules

Section 287.055, Florida Statutes
Section 337.105, Florida Statutes
Section 337.107, Florida Statutes
Section 337.1075, Florida Statutes
Chapter 14-75, Florida Administrative Code