Georgia County Government - February 2008 - (Page 35)

Feature Essential Elements of Negotiating Professional Service Firm Contracts By Peter Ashton Lyon, FSMPS S uccessfully negotiating a contract with a professional service firm requires attention to detail. It is one of the most challenging aspects of public service, as it is the desire of all of us to obtain the very best service at the best possible value for our constituents. As hard as we try to get the best possible price for professional services, experience has shown us that the lowest bid or price is not always the best value to serve the public interest. This article is a three-part series presented to use as a simple guide to develop a responsible process or plan to effectively negotiate a contract with a professional service firm. Professional service firms may include: architects, interior designers, landscape architects, land planners, civil engineers, M/E/P engineers, structural engineers, geotechnical engineers, material testing engineers, special engineering inspectors and surveyors. The three-part article includes: • Developing a scope of work and a budget • Developing a request for a proposal or statement of qualifications • Negotiating the contract with the most qualified company or service provider This budget estimate is vital. Almost nothing is worse for public-agency creditability and trust than to have cost overruns requiring additional funds to complete a project. This author recommends engaging as soon as possible a reliable construction cost estimator to review the scope of work and then using benchmarking information and current cost information to generate a reliable estimated cost for budgeting purposes. If possible, this cost should include FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment). This includes desks, chairs, artwork, process equipment and computers. To make the development of a concise Scope of Work simple, it is recommended that a checklist be made and followed. This checklist should: 1. Identify the project goal. What are your agency’s specific facility needs? It would be useful to make an assessment of current operations with respect to current assigned space allocations. In doing so it is possible that simply reassigning space, disposing of outdated and unused equipment or simply storing old files in off-site storage space will uncover the space needed to conduct operations. If upon a thorough review of operations and space requirements, a new facility or the renovation of an existing facility is required, then the development of the Scope of Work begins. At this point, it is advised to work with all user groups to develop space needs based on operations, operational growth projections and current and anticipated future staff requirements. It might also be possible to consolidate efforts with other departments to complete a facility needs assessment. Once the space requirements are developed, then a suitable site should be investigated. This site may already be owned by the public agency. If not, a site location team should be developed to find site alternatives. This is important, as site preparation, soils analysis, site environmental and cultural impact analysis may be required, which add to the cost for budget planning. 2. Establish specific project objectives. This involves establishing quantifiable objectives in terms of the amount of total usable space, the quality of materials and equipment, the specific opening or occupancy date and the total budgeted cost. NEGOTIATING continued on page 36 Part I – Developing a Scope of Work and a Budget Scope of Work development and management is critical to the success of any public project. This is especially important for saving time and money. The Scope of Work forms the basis for the agreement between you (the government entity) and the service provider. It provides the framework for all project-related decisions and is used as part of the contract documents to determine if the project was completed as agreed and specified. The written Scope of Work provides the overall intention for the project and how it relates to the overall operations to serve the public. It provides a summary of the project deliverables. It provides the quantifiable goals in terms of time, money and the technical quality the project must achieve. And it will outline how the project will be managed. From the Scope of Work, a preliminary budget estimate can be established that can be used to plan for and secure the necessary funding resources. The funding sources may come from general tax revenues, tax-increment funding programs, SPLOST funding or bond sales. FEBRUARY 2008 35

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - February 2008

Georgia County Government - February 2008
President's Message
County Matters
Regional Focus on the Georgia Mountains: Rabun, Habersham and Stephens Counties
DNR Commissioner Noel Holcomb
Solid Waste Management in Georgia: New Challenges Ahead
Essential Elements of Negotiating Professional Service Firm Contracts
The Walker County Courthouse at LaFayette
Extension News: Partnerships are Key to Conservation Education
Research Corner: Interns: An Asset to Every County
NACo News: Counties and Climate Change FAQs
Georgia Flag to Travel to All 159 Georgia Counties
State Announces Regional Recycling Hub Grant Awards
Abraham Joins ACCG Support Staff
County Parade
ACCG Launches e-Magazine
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - February 2008