ing work plan, time schedule, budget and quality control. This is evident from the projects executed and the proposed project team. However, significant differences may be in the expertise required to resolve project-specific technical and performance issues. This requires more detailed and specific questions in the RFPs, and evaluation of the proposal, particularly in the area of the specific technical issues. Technical expertise comes predominantly with the persons directly involved in the project and less from the firm itself. Also, the proposal writer is not necessarily involved in the project execution. Therefore, the municipality may end up with two different products: one the proposal, and the other the execution of the project. RFPs do not need to have detailed requirements for general information, such as time schedules, time and cost breakdown between proposed team members, cost and quality controls. However, essential information should be provided to outline the current project status, shortcomings, operating issues and costs, compliance with approvals, raw and treated water/wastewater quality records, in order to enable the engineering firm to understand and evaluate the essential issues of the project. Large engineering firms can afford to employ professional proposal writers and deliver very well-written proposals in general, but not perhaps for specific technical issues. However, if specific technical issues are not underlined in the RFP, the evaluation of the proposal will only rely on the skill in writing and the general information provided as requested. The other issues are related to the review, scoring and approval of proposals. This is usually done by a proposal review committee, with final approval by council. The proposal scoring is done for required information and issues, and a well-written proposal with more general information will score better then a less elaborate proposal. This, however, is not a reflection of the firm’s ability to resolve specific technical issues if they are not outlined in the RFP. When and how did we begin to write elaborate proposals? This began in early 1982 after the announcement of the National Energy Program. This had a negative impact on the Canadian economy, predominantly in the energy sector. Large projects were put on the shelf and a shortage of work for engineers began. Thus, engineering firms began competition for work by writing elaborate proposals and municipalities began demanding such proposals by writing elaborate requests. This is how we began wasting our time and resources instead of using them for research and development of more efficient and less expensive water and wastewater treatment technologies. It is also essential to note that provincial technical approvals and funding authorities do not contribute to the review and selection of proposals. This raises the question whether there is adequate control exercised over spending public money and whether more and better defined projects can be implemented from available funds.
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Jan Korzeniowski, MSc, P.Eng, is with J.K. Engineering Ltd. in Calgary. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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