Public Procurement of Professional Services
Florida Statutes provide a framework for public agencies to follow when procuring professional architect, engineering, and surveying services. Since these services are personal and professional in nature, they are typically not awarded on the basis of price. Florida Statutes, Section 287.055 is known as the "Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act" or "CCNA". Applicability of the Act to a particular project depends upon whether certain monetary thresholds are met.
Where applicable, the CCNA applies to the procurement of certain professional services, including architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, or registered surveying and mapping. The Act also provides requirements for design-build projects. Design-build is a construction project where the agency does not have final design drawings and specifications, and desires to have the same firm provide the design and construct the project.
For professional services, the selection process is more of a qualitative based approach, where price is not the primary consideration. In fact, price is not a consideration at all until the agency has ranked the firms that have responded to the solicitation. Agencies follow a multi-step process selection process. First, the public agency will publish notice of its intent to solicit the professional services, and qualify the firms or individuals who respond. Then, the agency is supposed to short list no fewer than three firms, and which are to be ranked. Once the firms are ranked, the public agency will attempt to negotiate a contract with the top ranked firm on terms that are "fair, competitive, and reasonable". If the negotiations are not successful, then the agency is to formally terminate the discussions and move on to the next ranked firm.
For design-build projects, the CCNA provides that the selection process may be based on the qualitative procedure outlined above, or a competitve proposal process. If the public agency desires to follow a competitive proposal selection process, it must adopt procedures as outlined in the Act.
Finally, the proceedings conducted by a public agency pursuant to the CCNA must be open to the public. For example, if the agency has appointed a committee to evaluate or negotiate a contract with the top ranked firm, those meetings must be open to the public just in the case of meetings conducted in accordance with the Sunshine Law.