While it seems that the new form’s phase-in will be gradual, those familiar with the form say that, in its current incarnation, there should be many concerns.

Sometime this year, the federal government will adopt the new SF 330, designed to replace the Standard Forms 254 and 255 used for A/E procurement. While it seems that the new form’s phase-in will be gradual, those familiar with the form say that, in its current incarnation, there should be many concerns. Both the American Consulting Engineers Council and the American Institute of Architects have established task forces to review and comment on the proposed forms before they are officially adopted. The purpose of this new form:

  • Merges the SFs 254 and 255 into a single streamlined SF 330.

  • Expands essential information about qualifications and experience such as an organizational chart of all participating firms and key personnel.

  • Reflects current architect-engineer disciplines, experience types and technology.

  • Eliminates information of marginal value such as a list of all offices of a firm.

  • Permits limited submission length thereby reducing costs for both the architect-engineer industry and the government.

  • Facilitates electronic usage by organizing the form in data blocks.

In reviewing comments from professional design organizations, most of them are format or language related and represent minor tweaking on the Government’s part. While it seems to be the Government’s attempt to reduce the effort expended on their submissions by firms, in reality, some experts predict that the new forms will require 10-15 additional hours per RFP and more for multi-discipline firms, costing firm hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff time in preparation of new forms, as well as changing existing databases to be consistent with them.

Some of the other concerns include:

  • Gone from the forms is the spot to indicate minority and/or women-owned businesses;

  • Restricts smaller firms from participating by increasing the required relevant projects to be listed and minimizing the importance of quality project delivery;

  • The SF 330 only streamlines the process for single-discipline firms who go after one or two government projects per year. It does not encourage building new teams and encourages firms to use subconsultant firms they have worked with in the past, regardless of their performance;

  • The new form places a greater importance on corporate offices and hinders satellite/branch offices from procuring their own contracts.

  • Perhaps the greatest change is the increase emphasis on the specialized experience of the individuals assigned to the project team and their experience on working together on similar projects, at the expense of recognizing the firm’s contribution and body of work as a whole. Thus, the value of an individual who gained enormous personal experience in a particular project type such as laboratories or courthouses, would transfer with them to another firm.

In short, while the Government’s intent was honorable, unless dramatic revisions in both content and format are made, DI believes that the SF330 is bad for the A/E professions and compromises the spirit of the Brooks Act which was to select the best qualified team. But opponents take heart—final approval, distribution, and adoption probably won’t be until sometime in mid/late 2002 at the earliest— and the SF 254/255 will still be used (and not phased out) by many agencies.