To Engineer or Not to Engineer - Iowa League of Cities

To Engineer or Not to Engineer - Iowa League of Cities

TO ENGINEER OR NOT TO ENGINEERProgram Outline:• When do you legally have to hire an engineer?• When should you hire an engineer?• Value of standards (SUDAS)• How to hire an engineer• The bidding process• Follow up2

TO ENGINEER OR NOT TO ENGINEERDefinitions:• Engineer - a person licensed under the provisions ofchapter 542B, Code of Iowa. Must be licensed in Iowa, notrequired to be a resident.• Public Improvement - a building or construction workunder the control of a governmental entity and is paid inwhole or part with funds of the governmental entity.(26.2(3)). An improvement that results in betterment to afacility by improving the original design or function of thefacility. (IAC 761-180.4(1)).• Estimated Cost – the total cost to the governmental entityto construct a public improvement, including labor,materials, equipment, and supplies. (26.2)3

TO ENGINEER OR NOT TO ENGINEERDefinitions (con’t):• Repair or Maintenance – preservation of a building, sewer,or other public facility or structure so that it remains insound condition, including minor replacements andadditions needed to restore it to its original condition withthe same design. (26.2)• Vertical Infrastructure – buildings and all appurtenantstructures, utilities, incidental street improvements,sidewalks, site development, recreational trails, andparking facilities. Does not include work constructed inconjunction with highway, street, bridge or culvertprojects. (IAC 761-180.3).• Horizontal Infrastructure – road, bridge, culvert, andutility work not meeting the definition of verticalinfrastructure 4

TO ENGINEER OR NOT TO ENGINEER• Emergency work or repair or maintenance workmay be performed by employees of a governmentalentity regardless of the total cost• If a governmental entity is unable to perform thework using its own employees, the governmentalagency must follow the process set out by Iowa CodeSections 26.3 and 26.14 based on the estimatedcost of the work.• Road, bridge, and culvert projects are governed byIowa Code Section 314.1(2) which connects to backSections 26.3 to 26.13.5

TO ENGINEER OR NOT TO ENGINEERIowa Code Section 26.3:If the estimated total cost of a public improvementexceeds the threshold of $100,000, or the adjustedcompetitive bid threshold established in 314.1B, thegovernment entity shall hire an engineer toprepare plans and specifications.6

TO ENGINEER OR NOT TO ENGINEER2012 Bid/Quote Thresholds:Requirements for competitive quotes – see IAC 761-180ThresholdTypeCompetitiveBidCompetitiveQuoteHorizontal InfrastructureLess than50,000 pop.Greater than50,000 pop.Vertical InfrastructureLess than50,000 pop.Greater than50,000 pop.$47,000 $67,000 $125,000 $125,000N/A N/A $48,000 $69,0007

TO ENGINEER OR NOT TO ENGINEEROther times required to hire engineer:• Emergency work – engineer must certify that emergencyrepairs are necessary. Then proceed to get contractor todo the work without bid procedures.• When using special assessments of any value – engineermust prepare plat and schedule of assessments• Most government grant programs• To develop a design exception/exemption to a requiredstandard (e.g. determining ADA technical infeasibility)8

TO ENGINEER OR NOT TO ENGINEERWhen an engineer should be hired:• For a smaller project that is needed to fix a specificproblem, such as a drainage situation. The engineer is ableto act as a neutral party to meet with impacted propertiesand develop some alternatives for discussion that wouldinclude pros and cons, cost estimates, and impacts; andthus allow an appropriate decision to be made.9

TO ENGINEER OR NOT TO ENGINEER• If the estimate is over the bid threshold, do I neednew plans and specifications when the workinvolved in the project is the same, i.e. asphaltresurfacing?• Yes, projects might seem similar, but they are neverexactly the same• Design and construction specifications standards doexist to make projects of the same type uniform andsimpler10

TO ENGINEER OR NOT TO ENGINEER• SUDAS (Pronounced “soo’dahs”)• Statewide Urban Design and Specifications• Statewide standards for common urban public worksimprovements in Iowa• Voluntary use by governmental and private agencies• Owned by a non-profit corporation with a Board of Directors• Operated by InTrans through contract with ISU• SUDAS has two manuals• Design Manual• Specifications Manual11

WHAT TYPES OF PROJECTS CAN USE SUDAS?StormwaterSanitary SewersWater MainsStreetsSoils and GradingErosion & SedimentControlParking LotsUtilitiesStreet TreesStreet LightingSidewalks & Bicycle Paths(ADA requirements)Traffic SignalsTrenchless Construction12

VALUE AND POTENTIAL SAVINGS OF SUDASCost Savings• Design• Developers, consultants, and staff know what parameters to use forthe project• Consistency provides for faster designs as opposed to specialrequirements that vary from city to city• Reduced design time could result in savings of 10-15% of consultantcost• Construction• Contractors are familiar with the requirements• Less confusion about the work means faster construction and higherquality• More bidders = lower prices• Could mean 5-10% of construction costs14

Cost?WHAT IS THE COST OF USING SUDAS?• Could be free - available at• Printed manuals available to cities for $40 each• Order form on the website or contact BethRichards (; 515-294-2869)15

HOW TO HIRE AN ENGINEER• Determine if an engineer is needed or desired basedon the type of project and the estimated cost• If yes, write the scope of the work for what you wantthe engineer to do – be specific• Identify engineering firms to send the request forproposals (RFP):• Completed previous work for you• Recommendations from colleagues• DOT prequalified list• Advertisements/contacts16

HOW TO HIRE AN ENGINEER• Establish a timeline for selecting an engineer basedon the project requirements• Send out the RFP with specific response times• Identify past experience of the firm on similar projects• Identify past experience of the proposed team memberson similar project• Have them identify their potential approach to the work• Tell them the process – submittal review or also aninterview• Set up an evaluation team/committee of 4-6 people• People knowledgeable about the project – staff or thepublic17

HOW TO HIRE AN ENGINEER• Develop evaluation criteria that addresses the typeof project you have and the objectives for that project• Each committee member completes independentreview of proposals• Committee compiles a total score sheet• Short list submittals to 2 or 3 firms for interview orselect one for the project18

HOW TO HIRE AN ENGINEERIf process includes interviews:• Committee meets to determine selection criteria• Send interview criteria to short listed firms• Date, time, and location• Length of interview• Specifics about staffing (e.g. must the project manager beat the interview)• Have them detail their approach to designing the project• Tell them who is on the interview team19

HOW TO HIRE AN ENGINEER• Do reference checks on similar projects completedby the highest ranking firm:• Was the design completed on schedule?• Did the engineer request more design money even thoughthe project concept did not change?• Did the similar project attract a good number ofcontractors bidding on the project?• Were there a lot of change orders during construction?• Was the project completed within the established budget?• Negotiate with the selected firm20

HOW TO HIRE AN ENGINEER• Have the selected firm draft a contract and specificscope of work, including schedule and fees• Have your City Attorney review the contractlanguage• Selection committee review the scope of work andthe fee• You can negotiate both the scope and the fee• Can go to #2 selection if unable to reach agreement• Approve the contract once agreement is reached21

Next steps:HOW TO HIRE AN ENGINEER• Authorize the engineer to proceed• Be sure to tell the engineer what budgetconstraints there are with the project• Hold public input sessions on the project and getinput on alternatives, if appropriate• After input and analysis by the engineer, approveproject concept design22

Next steps (con’t):HOW TO HIRE AN ENGINEER• Engineer completes the plans, specifications, andcost estimate for the project• Ensure the engineer has left contingency funds inthe project budget• Place the plans, specifications, and estimate on filewith the City Clerk• Initiate bidding process23

COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCESSNotice to Bidders• Publication (Iowa Code Section 26.3)• Not less than 4 or more than 45 days before bid date• Content (Iowa Code Section 26.7)• Time and place for filing and opening bids• Nature of the project• Generally when work needs to commence and becompleted• Amount of bid security (Iowa Code Section 26.8)• Notice of Public Hearing (Sections 26.12 and 362.3)• Not less than 4 nor more than 20 days before the publichearing24

COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCESSEach Bid to be Accompanied by Bid Security, Iowa CodeSection 26.8.• Each bidder shall accompany its bid with a bid securitythat the successful bidder will enter into a contract for thework bid upon and will furnish after the award of contract acorporate surety bond, acceptable to the governmentalentity, for the faithful performance of the contract, in anamount equal to one hundred percent of the amount of thecontract• Bid and performance security also required on competitivequotes (IAC 761-180.9(4))25

COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCESSOpening and Consideration of Bids, Iowa Code Section26.10The date and time that each bid is received by thegovernmental entity, together with the name of the personreceiving the bid, shall be recorded on the envelopecontaining the bid. All bids received after the deadlines forsubmission of bids as stated in the project specificationsshall not be considered and shall be returned to the latebidder unopened. The governmental entity shall open,announce the amount of the bids, and file all proposalsreceived, at the time and place specified in the notice tobidders.26

COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCESSAward of Contract, Iowa Code Section 26.9The contract for the public improvement must be awarded tothe lowest responsive, responsible bidder.• Responsiveness – focuses on the bid. A bid is consideredresponsive if the bidder agrees to do everything required bythe plans and specs and other bid documents withoutconditions or qualifications.• Responsible – bidder that is capable of performing thework by possessing the necessary financial and technicalcapabilities as exhibited by past performance and ability toobtain insurance and bonds27

COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCESSAward of Contract, Iowa Code Section 26.9Questions/Issues:• Are there any exceptions to the requirement that thecontract be awarded to the lowest responsive, responsiblebidder?• In deciding which bidder should be awarded the contract,can a city give a preference to a “local bidder?”28

COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCESSAward of Contract, Iowa Code Section 26.9The contract for the public improvement must be awarded tothe lowest responsive, responsible bidder. However, contractsrelating to public utilities or extensions or improvementsthereof, as described in sections 384.80 through 384.94, maybe awarded by the city as it deems to be in the bestinterests of the city.29

COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCESSAward of Contract, Rejection of Bids, Iowa Code Section26.10• The governmental entity may, by resolution, award thecontract for the public improvement to the biddersubmitting the lowest responsive, responsible bid,determined as provided in section 26.9, or thegovernmental entity may reject all bids received, fix a newdate for receiving bids, and order publication of a newnotice to bidders.• Get a recommendation from the consulting engineer.30

COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCESSExecution of Contract, Approval of Contract and Bond,Iowa Code Section 26.10The governmental entity shall retain the bid securityfurnished by the successful bidder until the approved contractform has been executed, a bond has been filed by the bidderguaranteeing the performance of the contract, appropriateinsurance forms submitted, and the contract and bond havebeen approved31

POST CONTRACT EVALUATION OF ENGINEER• After project work is complete, undertake anevaluation of the engineer/team• Use the evaluation criteria established earlierduring the interview• Complete another ranking evaluation usingthe same scales• Retain in the project file for next time or forresponse to reference requests32

PURCHASES - NOT PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTSLocal Purchases, Iowa Code Section 23A.3A city, county, area education agency, or school district shalladopt a policy for purchasing goods or services from privateenterprise which requires purchasing these goods or servicesfrom a locally owned business within the city, county, areaeducation agency, or school district which offers these goodsor services if the cost and other considerations arerelatively equal.33

TO ENGINEER OR NOT TO ENGINEERQuestions?Paul Wiegand - pwiegand@iastate.eduTerry Cox - TerryCox@ci.harlan.ia.us34

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