The Price is [Not Always] Right – Chamber Supports QBS


A call for Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) provincial procurement – Edmonton Chamber of Commerce 

The value of a product is not determined by price alone. The quality, service and timeliness of delivery are only a few of the many considerations every business owner makes when buying something for their company. As we have all learned the hard way, whether in our business or our home, just because something is cheaper, it does not necessarily mean it is right.

The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce believes government should procure their products and services using the same logic, looking at more than simply the price of a bid. Sadly, the Government of Alberta’s procurement services and policy currently directs departments “…to award contracts on the basis of lowest response or most cost effective response.”

While we are always supportive of efforts to spend less of our tax dollars, the problem with purchasing solely on price alone means that factors such as overall quality, timeliness of delivery and expertise of a company too often fall by the wayside in the consideration of bids. The short-term gain of spending less up front often leads to long-term pain, when the full life cycle cost of a project becomes known.

QBS in not a price-based selection system. It is a step-by-step selection process that chooses a service provider on the basis of qualifications and competence in relation to the size and type of project. It also facilitates the development of an appropriate scope of work for a particular project. Used (in varying degrees) in many U.S. states and the City of Calgary, QBS is a recognized procedure that satisfies governments’ requirements to get the best available services for taxpayers’ money and to conduct a fair, equitable selection process for procuring services.

In order to maximize value for tax dollars spent on procurement from private sector service providers and to ensure a fair, objective and consistent process, the Government of Alberta needs to adopt QBS on a broad, ministry-wide basis.