By Paul Emanuelli

This article is an excerpt from The Art of Tendering: A Global Due Diligence Guide, which is available for purchase.

The World Bank’s Guidelines: Selection and Employment of Consultants by World Bank Borrowers, referred to as the World Bank’s Guidelines, recognize a broad range of different models for evaluating proposals for consulting services. In addition to the standard “Quality and Cost” evaluation, the World Bank’s Guidelines recognize a number of other evaluation methods, including the following:

  • Quality-Based Selection processes for complex or highly specialized assignments;
  • Fixed Budget assessments for simple and precisely defined assignments;
  • Least-Cost Selection for standard and routine assignments; and
  • Selection Based on the Consultants’ Qualifications for small assignments where evaluating competitive proposals is not justified.

Excerpts from the World Bank’s Guidelines are set out below:

World Bank
Guidelines: Selection and Employment of Consultants by World Bank Borrowers
Other Methods of Selection
3.1 This section describes the selection methods other than QCBS, and the circumstances under which they are acceptable. All the relevant provisions of Section II (QCBS) shall apply whenever competition is used.
Quality-Based Selection (QBS)
3.2 QBS is appropriate for the following types of assignments:
     a. complex or highly specialized assignments for which it is difficult to define precise TOR and the required input from the consultants, and for which the client expects the consultants to demonstrate innovation in their proposals (for example, country economic or sector studies, multisectoral feasibility studies, design of a hazardous waste remediation plant or of an urban master plan, financial sector reforms);
     b. assignments that have a high downstream impact and in which the objective is to have the best experts (for example, feasibility and structural engineering design of such major infrastructure as large dams, policy studies of national significance, management studies of large government agencies); and
     c. assignments that can be carried out in substantially different ways, such that proposals will not be comparable (for example, management advice, and sector and policy studies in which the value of the services depends on the quality of the analysis).
3.3 In QBS, the RFP may request submission of a technical proposal only (without the financial proposal), or request submission of both technical and financial proposals at the same time, but in separate envelopes (two-envelope system). The RFP shall provide either the estimated budget or the estimated number of key staff time, specifying that this information is given as an indication only and that consultants shall be free to propose their own estimates.
3.4 If technical proposals alone were invited, after evaluating the technical proposals using the same methodology as in QCBS, the Borrower shall ask the consultant with the highest ranked technical proposal to submit a detailed financial proposal. The Borrower and the consultant shall then negotiate the financial proposal and the contract. All other aspects of the selection process shall be identical to those of QCBS, including the publication of the Award of Contract as described in paragraph 2.28 except that only the price of the winning firm is published. If consultants were requested to provide financial proposals initially together with the technical proposals, safeguards shall be built in as in QCBS to ensure that the price proposal of only the selected firm is opened and the rest returned unopened, after the negotiations are successfully concluded.
Selection under a Fixed Budget (FBS)
3.5 This method is appropriate only when the assignment is simple and can be precisely defined and when the budget is fixed. The RFP shall indicate the available budget and request the consultants to provide their best technical and financial proposals in separate envelopes, within the budget. TOR should be particularly well prepared to make sure that the budget is sufficient for the consultants to perform the expected tasks. Evaluation of all technical proposals shall be carried out first as in the QCBS method. Then the price proposals shall be opened in public and prices shall be read out aloud. Proposals that exceed the indicated budget shall be rejected. The Consultant who has submitted the highest ranked technical proposal among the rest shall be selected and invited to negotiate a contract. The publication of the Award of Contract shall be as described in paragraph 2.28.
Least-Cost Selection (LCS)
3.6 This method is only appropriate for selecting consultants for assignments of a standard or routine nature (audits, engineering design of noncomplex works, and so forth) where well-established practices and standards exist. Under this method, a “minimum” qualifying mark for the “quality” is established. Proposals, to be submitted in two envelopes, are invited from a short list. Technical proposals are opened first and evaluated. Those securing less than the minimum qualifying mark are rejected, and the financial proposals of the rest are opened in public. The firm with the lowest price shall then be selected and the publication of the Award of Contract shall be as described in paragraph 2.28. Under this method, the minimum qualifying mark shall be established, understanding that all proposals above the minimum compete only on “cost.” The minimum qualifying mark shall be stated in the RFP.
Selection Based on the Consultants’ Qualifications (CQS)
3.7 This method may be used for small assignments for which the need for preparing and evaluating competitive proposals is not justified. In such cases, the Borrower shall prepare the TOR, request expressions of interest and information on the consultants’ experience and competence relevant to the assignment, establish a short list, and select the firm with the most appropriate qualifications and references. The selected firm shall be asked to submit a combined technical-financial proposal and then be invited to negotiate the contract.
3.8 The Borrower shall publish in UNDB online and in dgMarket the name of the consultant to which the contract was awarded, and the price, duration, and scope of the contract. This publication may be done quarterly and in the format of a summarized table covering the previous period.