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Phase III - Negotiating a Contract

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Municipal Project Guide

Step 9. Develop Final Scope of Services and Schedule

Efforts spent preparing the detailed scope of services typically result in a better project that is delivered in less time. Prequalified engineering consultants are experienced in project development and their expertise is invaluable in developing an appropriate project design. The scope of services must adhere to the requirements contained in the MassDOT Project Development & Design Guide. Also, municipalities should be aware of the following specific work tasks that are often overlooked but that contribute to a successful project. Omitting one or more of these tasks from the scope of services will likely lead to project delays and cost overruns:

  • Early Environmental Coordination
  • Public Outreach
  • Right of Way Actions
  • Subsurface Exploration
  • Utility Coordination
  • Construction Support Services
Step 10. Request a Fee Proposal

The selected design firm develops and submits to the municipality a fee structure based on the agreed upon scope of services and project schedule. The fee should be presented using the latest version of the MassDOT Standard Scope of Services and Work Hour Estimate forms. Use of these standard forms facilitates evaluation and negotiation of the fee. It also simplifies contract administration.

Step 11. Finalize the Scope and Schedule, and Negotiate the Fee

If the proposed fee is not acceptable to the municipality, the municipal project manager and the consultant should work together to modify the scope of services, schedule, and budget to determine if an agreement can be achieved. Municipalities are strongly encouraged to seek the assistance of the Project Development office at their local MassDOT Highway District in reviewing the detailed scope, schedule and fee, as this can help to avoid problems that may occur later in the project design or construction phases.

Step 12. Negotiation with Next Highest Ranked Firm (if necessary)

If an agreement cannot be reached with the top ranked firm within a specified time period, those negotiations are ended and negotiations begin with the next highest ranked firm. Typically, engineering firms have enough time and effort invested in the process that this step is rarely necessary.

Step 13. Execute Agreement

A contract which includes a detailed scope of services, expected deliverables, fee, schedule, payment terms and other details, is approved by the municipal entity authorized to execute contracts. The contract is an important part of defining and managing the relationship between the municipality and the consultant.

Step 14. Provide Post-selection Feedback as Requested

The selection process formally ends when a contract is executed or when the municipality decides to terminate the process prior to executing a contract. At the end of the selection process, the municipality should notify all responding firms of the outcome of the selection process. At this time, all of the RFR submissions and evaluation materials become public records. If requested, the municipal project manager should make these documents available to the requesting party. A review of these documents will help a firm not selected identify means to improve the services offered for future municipal roadway projects.

Managing the Contract - Working with Consultants

Once a contract is in place and a notice-to-proceed has been issued, project design begins. MassDOT's Project Development & Design Guide is a key reference that should be consulted regularly. It describes procedures for working with the public, environmental agencies, accessibility advocates, etc. Time spent in the early stages of project development typically lead to a better project in a shorter time and reduces costly redesign. Other references such as How to Work Effectively with Consulting Engineers by the American Society of Civil Engineers are excellent resources on getting the best project at the right price. The local MassDOT District Highway offices, as well as the Baystate Roads Local Technical Assistance Program, are also excellent resources.

MassDOT will assign a project manager for those projects it advertises for construction. The municipal project manager and consulting engineer will need to coordinate all project submissions with the MassDOT project manager.

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