(1) SHORT TITLE.—This section shall be known as the “Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act.”
(2) DEFINITIONS.—For purposes of this section:
(a) “Professional services” means those services within the scope of the practice of architecture, professional engineering, landscape architecture, or registered surveying and mapping, as defined by the laws of the state, or those performed by any architect, professional engineer, landscape architect, or registered surveyor and mapper in connection with his or her professional employment or practice.
(b) “Agency” means the state, a state agency, a municipality, a political subdivision, a school district, or a school board. The term “agency” does not extend to a nongovernmental developer that contributes public facilities to a political subdivision under s. 380.06 or ss. 163.3220-163.3243.
(c) “Firm” means any individual, firm, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity permitted by law to practice architecture, engineering, or surveying and mapping in the state.
(d) “Compensation” means the amount paid by the agency for professional services regardless of whether stated as compensation or stated as hourly rates, overhead rates, or other figures or formulas from which compensation can be calculated.
(e) “Agency official” means any elected or appointed officeholder, employee, consultant, person in the category of other personal service or any other person receiving compensation from the state, a state agency, municipality, or political subdivision, a school district or a school board.
(f) “Project” means that fixed capital outlay study or planning activity described in the public notice of the state or a state agency under paragraph (3)(a). A project may include:
1. A grouping of minor construction, rehabilitation, or renovation activities.
2. A grouping of substantially similar construction, rehabilitation, or renovation activities.
1(g) A “continuing contract” is a contract for professional services entered into in accordance with all the procedures of this act between an agency and a firm whereby the firm provides professional services to the agency for projects in which the estimated construction cost of each individual project under the contract does not exceed $4 million, for study activity if the fee for professional services for each individual study under the contract does not exceed $500,000, or for work of a specified nature as outlined in the contract required by the agency, with the contract being for a fixed term or with no time limitation except that the contract must provide a termination clause. Firms providing professional services under continuing contracts shall not be required to bid against one another. (h) A “design-build firm” means a partnership, corporation, or other legal entity that: 1. Is certified under s. 489.119 to engage in contracting through a certified or registered general contractor or a certified or registered building contractor as the qualifying agent; or 2. Is qualified under s. 471.023 to practice or to offer to practice engineering; qualified under s. 481.219 to practice or to offer to practice architecture; or qualified under s. 481.319 to practice or to offer to practice landscape architecture.
(i) A “design-build contract” means a single contract with a design-build firm for the design and construction of a public construction project.
(j) A “design criteria package” means concise, performance-oriented drawings or specifications of the public construction project. The purpose of the design criteria package is to furnish sufficient information to permit design-build firms to prepare a bid or a response to an agency’s request for proposal, or to permit an agency to enter into a negotiated design-build contract. The design criteria package must specify performance-based criteria for the public construction project, including the legal description of the site, survey information concerning the site, interior space requirements, material quality standards, schematic layouts and conceptual design criteria of the project, cost or budget estimates, design and construction schedules, site development requirements, provisions for utilities, stormwater retention and disposal, and parking requirements applicable to the project.
(k) A “design criteria professional” means a firm that is qualified under chapter 481 to practice architecture or landscape architecture or a firm who holds a current certificate as a registered engineer under chapter 471 to practice engineering and who is employed by or under contract to the agency for the providing of professional architect services, landscape architect services, or engineering services in connection with the preparation of the design criteria package.
(l) “Negotiate” or any form of that word means to conduct legitimate, arms length discussions and conferences to reach an agreement on a term or price. For purposes of this section, the term does not include presentation of flat-fee schedules with no alternatives or discussion.
(3) PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT AND QUALIFICATION PROCEDURES.— (a)1. Each agency shall publicly announce, in a uniform and consistent manner, each occasion when professional services must be purchased for a project the basic construction cost of which is estimated by the agency to exceed the threshold amount provided in s. 287.017 for CATEGORY FIVE or for a planning or study activity when the fee for professional services exceeds the threshold amount provided in s. 287.017 for CATEGORY TWO, except in cases of valid public emergencies certified by the agency head. The public notice must include a general description of the project and must indicate how interested consultants may apply for consideration.
2. Each agency shall provide a good faith estimate in determining whether the proposed activity meets the threshold amounts referred to in this paragraph.
(b) Each agency shall encourage firms engaged in the lawful practice of their professions that desire to provide professional services to the agency to submit annually statements of qualifications and performance data.
(c) Any firm or individual desiring to provide professional services to the agency must first be certified by the agency as qualified pursuant to law and the regulations of the agency. The agency must find that the firm or individual to be employed is fully qualified to render the required service. Among the factors to be considered in making this finding are the capabilities, adequacy of personnel, past record, and experience of the firm or individual.
(d) Each agency shall evaluate professional services, including capabilities, adequacy of personnel, past record, experience, whether the firm is a certified minority business enterprise as defined by the Florida Small and Minority Business Assistance Act, and other factors determined by the agency to be applicable to its particular requirements. When securing professional services, an agency must endeavor to meet the minority business enterprise procurement goals under s. 287.09451.
(e) The public must not be excluded from the proceedings under this section.
(4) COMPETITIVE SELECTION.—
(a) For each proposed project, the agency shall evaluate current statements of qualifications and performance data on file with the agency, together with those that may be submitted by other firms regarding the proposed project, and shall conduct discussions with, and may require public presentations by, no fewer than three firms regarding their qualifications, approach to the project, and ability to furnish the required services.
(b) The agency shall select in order of preference no fewer than three firms deemed to be the most highly qualified to perform the required services. In determining whether a firm is qualified, the agency shall consider such factors as the ability of professional personnel; whether a firm is a certified minority business enterprise; past performance; willingness to meet time and budget requirements; location; recent, current, and projected workloads of the firms; and the volume of work previously awarded to each firm by the agency, with the object of effecting an equitable distribution of contracts among qualified firms, provided such distribution does not violate the principle of selection of the most highly qualified firms. The agency may request, accept, and consider proposals for the compensation to be paid under the contract only during competitive negotiations under subsection (5).
(c) This subsection does not apply to a professional service contract for a project the basic construction cost of which is estimated by the agency to be not in excess of the threshold amount provided in s. 287.017 for CATEGORY FIVE or for a planning or study activity when the fee for professional services is not in excess of the threshold amount provided in s. 287.017 for CATEGORY TWO. However, if, in using another procurement process, the majority of the compensation proposed by firms is in excess of the appropriate threshold amount, the agency shall reject all proposals and reinitiate the procurement pursuant to this subsection.
(d) Nothing in this act shall be construed to prohibit a continuing contract between a firm and an agency.
(5) COMPETITIVE NEGOTIATION.— (a) The agency shall negotiate a contract with the most qualified firm for professional services at compensation which the agency determines is fair, competitive, and reasonable. In making such determination, the agency shall conduct a detailed analysis of the cost of the professional services required in addition to considering their scope and complexity. For any lump-sum or cost-plus-a-fixed-fee professional service contract over the threshold amount provided in s. 287.017 for CATEGORY FOUR, the agency shall require the firm receiving the award to execute a truth-in-negotiation certificate stating that wage rates and other factual unit costs supporting the compensation are accurate, complete, and current at the time of contracting. Any professional service contract under which such a certificate is required must contain a provision that the original contract price and any additions thereto will be adjusted to exclude any significant sums by which the agency determines the contract price was increased due to inaccurate, incomplete, or noncurrent wage rates and other factual unit costs. All such contract adjustments must be made within 1 year following the end of the contract.
(b) Should the agency be unable to negotiate a satisfactory contract with the firm considered to be the most qualified at a price the agency determines to be fair, competitive, and reasonable, negotiations with that firm must be formally terminated. The agency shall then undertake negotiations with the second most qualified firm. Failing accord with the second most qualified firm, the agency must terminate negotiations. The agency shall then undertake negotiations with the third most qualified firm.
(c) Should the agency be unable to negotiate a satisfactory contract with any of the selected firms, the agency shall select additional firms in the order of their competence and qualification and continue negotiations in accordance with this subsection until an agreement is reached.
(6) PROHIBITION AGAINST CONTINGENT FEES.—
(a) Each contract entered into by the agency for professional services must contain a prohibition against contingent fees as follows: “The architect (or registered surveyor and mapper or professional engineer, as applicable) warrants that he or she has not employed or retained any company or person, other than a bona fide employee working solely for the architect (or registered surveyor and mapper, or professional engineer, as applicable) to solicit or secure this agreement and that he or she has not paid or agreed to pay any person, company, corporation, individual, or firm, other than a bona fide employee working solely for the architect (or registered surveyor and mapper or professional engineer, as applicable) any fee, commission, percentage, gift, or other consideration contingent upon or resulting from the award or making of this agreement.” For the breach or violation of this provision, the agency shall have the right to terminate the agreement without liability and, at its discretion, to deduct from the contract price, or otherwise recover, the full amount of such fee, commission, percentage, gift, or consideration.
(b) Any individual, corporation, partnership, firm, or company, other than a bona fide employee working solely for an architect, professional engineer, or registered land surveyor and mapper, who offers, agrees, or contracts to solicit or secure agency contracts for professional services for any other individual, company, corporation, partnership, or firm and to be paid, or is paid, any fee, commission, percentage, gift, or other consideration contingent upon, or resulting from, the award or the making of a contract for professional services shall, upon conviction in a competent court of this state, be found guilty of a first degree misdemeanor, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. (c) Any architect, professional engineer, or registered surveyor and mapper, or any group, association, company, corporation, firm, or partnership thereof, who offers to pay, or pays, any fee, commission, percentage, gift, or other consideration contingent upon, or resulting from, the award or making of any agency contract for professional services shall, upon conviction in a state court of competent authority, be found guilty of a first degree misdemeanor, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. (d) Any agency official who offers to solicit or secure, or solicits or secures, a contract for professional services and to be paid, or is paid, any fee, commission, percentage, gift, or other consideration contingent upon the award or making of such a contract for professional services between the agency and any individual person, company, firm, partnership, or corporation shall, upon conviction by a court of competent authority, be found guilty of a first degree misdemeanor, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(7) AUTHORITY OF DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES.—Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the Department of Management Services shall be the agency of state government which is solely and exclusively authorized and empowered to administer and perform the functions described in subsections (3), (4), and (5) respecting all projects for which the funds necessary to complete same are appropriated to the Department of Management Services, irrespective of whether such projects are intended for the use and benefit of the Department of Management Services or any other agency of government. However, nothing herein shall be construed to be in derogation of any authority conferred on the Department of Management Services by other express provisions of law. Additionally, any agency of government may, with the approval of the Department of Management Services, delegate to the Department of Management Services authority to administer and perform the functions described in subsections (3), (4), and (5). Under the terms of the delegation, the agency may reserve its right to accept or reject a proposed contract.
(8) STATE ASSISTANCE TO LOCAL AGENCIES.—On any professional service contract for which the fee is over $25,000, the Department of Transportation or the Department of Management Services shall provide, upon request by a municipality, political subdivision, school board, or school district, and upon reimbursement of the costs involved, assistance in selecting consultants and in negotiating consultant contracts.
(9) APPLICABILITY TO DESIGN-BUILD CONTRACTS.—
(a) Except as provided in this subsection, this section is not applicable to the procurement of design-build contracts by any agency, and the agency must award design-build contracts in accordance with the procurement laws, rules, and ordinances applicable to the agency.
(b) The design criteria package must be prepared and sealed by a design criteria professional employed by or retained by the agency. If the agency elects to enter into a professional services contract for the preparation of the design criteria package, then the design criteria professional must be selected and contracted with under the requirements of subsections (4) and (5). A design criteria professional who has been selected to prepare the design criteria package is not eligible to render services under a design-build contract executed pursuant to the design criteria package.
(c) Except as otherwise provided in s. 337.11(7), the Department of Management Services shall adopt rules for the award of design-build contracts to be followed by state agencies. Each other agency must adopt rules or ordinances for the award of design-build contracts. Municipalities, political subdivisions, school districts, and school boards shall award design-build contracts by the use of a competitive proposal selection process as described in this subsection, or by the use of a qualifications-based selection process pursuant to subsections (3), (4), and (5) for entering into a contract whereby the selected firm will, subsequent to competitive negotiations, establish a guaranteed maximum price and guaranteed completion date. If the procuring agency elects the option of qualifications-based selection, during the selection of the design-build firm the procuring agency shall employ or retain a licensed design professional appropriate to the project to serve as the agency’s representative. Procedures for the use of a competitive proposal selection process must include as a minimum the following:
1. The preparation of a design criteria package for the design and construction of the public construction project.
2. The qualification and selection of no fewer than three design-build firms as the most qualified, based on the qualifications, availability, and past work of the firms, including the partners or members thereof.
3. The criteria, procedures, and standards for the evaluation of design-build contract proposals or bids, based on price, technical, and design aspects of the public construction project, weighted for the project.
4. The solicitation of competitive proposals, pursuant to a design criteria package, from those qualified design-build firms and the evaluation of the responses or bids submitted by those firms based on the evaluation criteria and procedures established prior to the solicitation of competitive proposals.
5. For consultation with the employed or retained design criteria professional concerning the evaluation of the responses or bids submitted by the design-build firms, the supervision or approval by the agency of the detailed working drawings of the project; and for evaluation of the compliance of the project construction with the design criteria package by the design criteria professional.
6. In the case of public emergencies, for the agency head to declare an emergency and authorize negotiations with the best qualified design-build firm available at that time.
(10) REUSE OF EXISTING PLANS.—Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, there shall be no public notice requirement or utilization of the selection process as provided in this section for projects in which the agency is able to reuse existing plans from a prior project of the agency, or, in the case of a board as defined in s. 1013.01, a prior project of that or any other board. Except for plans of a board as defined in s. 1013.01, public notice for any plans that are intended to be reused at some future time must contain a statement that provides that the plans are subject to reuse in accordance with the provisions of this subsection. (11) CONSTRUCTION OF LAW.—Nothing in the amendment of this section by chapter 75-281, Laws of Florida, is intended to supersede the provisions of ss. 1013.45 and 1013.46. 1Note.—
A. As amended by s. 8, ch. 2023-304, which provides that “[t]he amendments made by this act to s. 287.055(2)(g), Florida Statutes, expire on January 1, 2024, and the text of that paragraph shall revert to that in existence on the day before the date that this act became a law, except that any amendments to such text enacted other than by this act shall be preserved and continue to operate to the extent that such amendments are not dependent upon the portions of the text which expire pursuant to this section.” Chapter 2023-304 became a law on June 28, 2023.
B. Prior to the amendment of paragraph (2)(g) by s. 8, ch. 2023-304, effective January 1, 2024, the paragraph, as amended by s. 7, ch. 2023-304, effective June 28, 2023, read:
(g) A “continuing contract” is a contract for professional services entered into in accordance with all the procedures of this act between an agency and a firm whereby the firm provides professional services to the agency for projects in which the estimated construction cost of each individual project under the contract does not exceed $4 million, for study activity if the fee for professional services for each individual study under the contract does not exceed $500,000, or for work of a specified nature as outlined in the contract required by the agency, with the contract being for a fixed term or with no time limitation except that the contract must provide a termination clause. Firms providing professional services under continuing contracts shall not be required to bid against one another. The term “continuing contract” includes contracts executed through December 31, 2023, for professional services to the agency for projects related to repairs and remediation to a specific site due to damage caused by Hurricane Ian in which the estimated construction cost for each individual project does not exceed $15 million.