Yesterday I participated in a nation wide webinar put on by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This is a presentation where various sites from all over the country logged into the meeting. They heard the presenters Scott Wolf and Dave Bruce of FHWA talk and present their slides through the internet. All the locations were also able to email questions that were answered later after the formal talk.
I will be honest and say that it was not the most entertaining material, but they did a really good job of answering questions and keeping things relevant. Some of it was over my head but most of the material was things that I learned at TDOT on how consultants must be selected for Federally funded projects. Namely that it must be a qualifications based selection with absolutely no reference to cost or price until the most qualified firm has been selected.
I did however learn a few new things. I learned that as long as your prime consultant was selected correctly, if they needed to hire a sub consultant to do some work that sub consultant does not need to go through the selection process. The sub did not have to be included in the original qualifications submitted by the prime consultant. I suspect for TDOT work that sub had better be TDOT pre-qualified. (This is just what I got out of it. Go to the FHWA website if there is any question).
The main thing that struck me about the whole thing was that most of the participants from around the country (and all of the 16 or so in our location) were consultants. There were a handful of Department of Transportation (DOT) people from various States and a few Cities represented. It is obvious why consultants who do Federally funded transportation projects are there. We must know what we are talking about because our livelihoods depend on it.
I would have liked to see more people from Cities and DOT’s. Aren’t they the ones who must follow all these rules actually hire us? Shouldn’t they know the most about all of the ins and outs of the Federal Consultant selection process? Just a thought.
For those that are interested in learning more, don’t worry. From what they said they will have the whole thing including slides, audio, and the questions answered after the presentation put up on the FHWA website in a few weeks for everyone to review.