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17/04/19 – New Guidelines on Procurement practices released by the Institute of Architects

Are you experiencing unclear and cumbersome procurement processes for government and institutional projects?  If so, you’re not the only one…

The Australian Institute of Architects (‘Institute’) has recently undertaken extensive research, sourcing both qualitative and quantitative data, the results of which have shown that there are significant widespread problems with procurement processes.  Some of the Institute’s findings include:

  • Clients are requesting extensive submissions with little or no feedback mechanisms.
  • Smaller and emerging practices are being excluded which is discouraging new ideas and fresh approaches.
  • Architects do not trust the selection criteria and there is a lack of clarity in criteria weightings.
  • The requirement to re-tender at each phase of the design is undermining continuity of design services and the quality of built outcomes.

For more detail on how this research was undertaken as well as the additional findings, please see the Institute’s paper, Research – Procurement of Architectural Services here.

In response to these findings, the Institute has issued Guidelines for expressions of interest (‘EOIs’) and requests for tender (‘RFTs’) for architectural services.  Some of the Guidelines recommended for Clients include:

  • Clients should not request design responses from Architects in either EOIs or RFTs, so as to avoid having to give away their key insight and ideas without payment.
  • Clients should include clear weighting of Response Criteria in EOIs and RFTs to maximise the quality of evaluation.
  • Clients should include a realistic project budget verified by a quantity surveyor.
  • Clients should set limits or word limits on tender responses (to avoid wasting resources on lengthy proposals) and ensure that submission requirements are proportionate to the project’s size and complexity.
  • Clients should adopt a two-envelope system for RFT evaluation which provides for design quality to be assessed in isolation before price is even considered.
  • Clients should ensure that they allow adequate time for Architects to develop their proposals depending on the size and complexity of projects.
  • Insurance requirements (including professional indemnity and public liability) should be proportionate to the size of the project.
  • Standard contracts like the Australian Institute of Architects Client and Architect Agreement 2009 as well as the AS 4122-2010 should be used in appropriate circumstances.
  • Clients should provide feedback after the tender and publish some level of information about the comparative cost of the winning tenderer.

Some of the Guidelines, amongst many, recommended for Architects to include in their Responses are:

  • An executive summary which includes a clear and succinct submission.
  • A submission which demonstrates an appreciation of the task at hand and an understanding of the scope of services.
  • Ensuring that the fee is considered after the qualitative aspects of the tender have been evaluated.

You can find all the Guidelines recommended for both the Clients as well as Architects here.

Overall, the Guidelines attempt to provide a best practice model for both Clients and Architects to facilitate a cost effective, resource efficient and fair process for all participants for EOIs and RFTs at all levels of complexity and scale.  The aim of all of this is to improve productive working relationships between Clients and Architects which will benefit the community at large.

The Institute’s Guidelines very much align with Consult Australia’s Model Client Policy  which was released mid-2018. .  You can read our news item on Consult Australia’s Model Client Policy here.

We will watch with interest to see if the Institute and Consult Australia policies achieve traction within the industry and lead to positive changes in procurement practices.


Kathryn Budd

Risk Manager NSW

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