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The expenses incurred by sponsors for architectural/engineering (A/E) consultant services are an allowable cost for Federal reimbursement under the AIP, provided such costs are associated with an AIP eligible planning, development or equipment project. However, in order for the cost of A/E consultant services to be eligible, the Sponsors selection and employment of the consultant must adhere to Federal requirements.

Notwithstanding the language of 2 CFR §200.320(d)(5), which implies a sponsor has the option (i.e. may) to use competitive proposal procedures for a qualification based procurement of A/E services, the requirements of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 471 negates the optional aspect by requiring AIP sponsors to use a qualification based selection method for A/E professional services. To remain eligible under the AIP, sponsors must comply with 49 U.S.C. §47107(a)(17), which establishes the requirement to base selection of an A/E on qualifications similar to that required under Chapter 11 of title 40, Selection of Architects and Engineers.

Advisory Circular 150/5100-14, Architectural, Engineering, and Planning Consultant Services for Airport Grant Projects, serves as the official FAA guidance to sponsors for procurement of A/E services.

Prior to soliciting for consultant qualifications, the sponsor must establish the evaluation criteria and the relevant importance for each factor (i.e. weighted criteria). Sponsors that use external resources to prepare a request-for-qualification (RFQ) or statement-of-work (SOW) should advise the party providing the assistance that they cannot compete for the services identified in the RFQ.

The Sponsor must publicly advertise the RFQ for the purpose of seeking maximum interest. The sponsor must identify all applicable evaluation criteria as part of the solicitation.

Upon receiving the qualification statements by the stated deadline, the sponsor proceeds with evaluating each submitted qualification statement and then rates each firm. The sponsor may prepare a short list of three to five firms from this evaluation in order to further assess the top-rated firms. Ultimately, the Sponsor selects one firm as the most qualified firm. It is only after the sponsor makes this selection that the sponsor may enter into negotiations for the associated fees.

Sponsors that fail to adhere to AIP jeopardize AIP eligibility in the costs associated with professional service contracts. The FAA recommends sponsor consult with the FAA prior to soliciting for professional services to limit any risk that may jeopardize AIP participation due to noncompliance with Federal regulations.