Approved by the Engineering Practice Policy Committee on March 29, 2022
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on April 27, 2022
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2022


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the use of Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) criteria as part of an overall “best-value” selection process that includes overall design-build pricing when using the two-phase competitive source-selection process required by the Federal Acquisition Reform Act of 1996 (Pub.L.104-106) for design-build contracts awarded by government agencies. The 1996 Act retains the essential QBS concepts embodied in the 1972 Brooks Act and requires that the contracting agency (“owner”) devote sufficient architectural and engineering (A/E) services to prepare the design-build solicitation (which must identify the disciplines needed in the design-build team), and to represent the owner’s interests regarding meeting their design requirements throughout the project duration.

Ideally, the contract between the owner and the design-build team should establish a means for informal and non-contractual direct communications between the owner’s technical team and the designer. This is to make the final design process more efficient for all parties, as well as communication with other relevant team members, including the design-builder, in order to provide oversight and commercial and contractual compliance during the project. The owner should also provide predetermined reimbursement (“stipends,” or “honorariums”) to the design-build teams selected to submit fully compliant design-build proposals. ASCE supports incorporating the two-phase design-build procurement method at all levels, which should include a shortlisting of design-build teams at an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) phase and followed by an RFP (Request for Proposal) phase. 


Design-build is a project delivery system whereby both design and construction responsibilities are consolidated into a single contract to achieve the owner’s objectives regarding cost, quality, safety, and schedule as well as risk transfer related to design and construction coordination and compliance. This approach presents challenges which must be addressed by all parties to provide a successful project for the Owner and the Design-Build team. These challenges include:

  • Ensuring that the design-build team is highly qualified in both the construction and the design fields. 
  • Providing a contractual mechanism enabling the designer to fulfill its professional and ethical obligations to the owner and the general public. 


Effective ways for the owner and the design-build team to ensure public safety and efficient construction, operation, and maintenance of federal infrastructure projects include:

  • Two-phase Procurement Process including “shortlisting” during the RFQ phase, ensures that the team is qualified to provide the best value to the Owner.
  • Best-value selection of design-build teams, including procurement of A/Es.
  • Emphasis on life-cycle analysis during the design process.
  • Streamlining planning, design, and construction processes.
  • Encouraging innovation in technology and management.
  • Properly allocating risk between all parties at the outset of a project. 
  • Addition of a qualified construction/procurement management team to provide oversight on the owner’s behalf.
  • Owner performing the environmental clearance process to define project design criteria and to determine and clear necessary right-of-way acquisitions.
  • Securing stakeholders input and seeking approval of long lead permitting agencies in advance of the Design/Build project.
  • Development of well-defined technical specification for the procurement package. 

Although the construction cost element is invariably much larger than the design portion in a design-build project, the design element cannot be materially subordinated if professional standards are to be maintained.

 ASCE Policy Statement 400
First Approved in 1992

See also ASCE Policy Statement 304 “Qualifications Based Selection of Professional Engineers.”