Ben Rocuskie, an engineer with 50 years of experience, 30 of them with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, sent West Virginia lawmakers a letter that warns against adopting Gov. Joe Manchin’s lowest bidder engineering bill (HB2977).
As we have reported, Manchin says the state is paying too much in engineering fees. He blames a federal process created in 1972 called Qualified Based Selection. West Virginia has been following that process since 1990, thanks to a bill sponsored by then-Sen. Joe Manchin. The process requires states to solicit proposals from prospective engineering firms, and then evaluate them and choose the most qualified for the job, taking into account any special needs of the particular project. Then the firm works with the client, the state in this case, to define the scope of the work and to negotiate a fee. If the state cannot get the firm to agree to a price it likes, the state can move on to the next qualified firm. Where state money is spent on highways and water projects, Manchin wants to replace this method with a process where the lowest bidder from a pre-qualified list of firms is chosen.
Rocuskie’s letter says that in 1982. Pennsylvania switched to a selection process heavily weighted toward price when picking engineers for highways projects. Seven years later, the state reversed the decision and reinstated the federal Qualified Based Selection process.
The West Virginia chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies has also prepared a response to the governor’s bill.
Thanks to Patrick Park II of Hurricane for passing on the letter and that last link.