By Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone
In the past, when Monmouth County looked to hire engineering and architectural consultants for various projects, the firms applying had to prepare extensive proposals, costing them thousands of dollars, just to compete for the work. As of now, however, the process will be streamlined, after the Board of Chosen Freeholders voted to revise it to make it easier and less costly for consulting firms to seek contract with the county.
The freeholders voted 5-0 last Thursday to adopt new bidding procedures for architectural and engineering contracts. The new procedures create a two pronged process that will make applying to work on county projects more cost effective for the consulting firms seeking the work as well as for the county, which has to provide the staff to review the proposals. The county is aimed at encouraging more professional firms to apply for work.
As liaison to the Department of Public Works and Engineering, I embarked on a mission a year and a half ago to look at ways to streamline the bidding process to make it easier and less costly for consultants to apply for work. Under the old process, professional firms would have to submit voluminous proposals, usually hundreds of pages long and costing them thousands of dollars to prepare. Some of the cost of that work was passed on to the county, and, the county would have to commit its staff sometimes for weeks or more to review the proposals. Because it would cost the consulting firms between $10,000 and $15,000 just to apply for work, (which seemed somewhat unjust) a year and a half ago, I asked the Freeholder Board if we could research a way to streamline it.
The new process is a two-pronged one in which the firms seeking to be hired for a project would first submit three or four pages documenting their background and experience. From those submitting the initial applications, county engineering staff would choose three or four firms and ask them to submit full technical and cost proposals. The firm to be hired would be selected from among those who submit the full proposals. The process also takes into account how many county projects a firm already is working on, so that other firms without work can be considered for new projects. Most of the top engineering firms in the state come out of Monmouth County. Most of the businesses that are here employ Monmouth County people, so more people are continuing to work. Under the new process, the Board of Chosen Freeholders remains confident that everybody’s going to get work.