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The expenses incurred by sponsors for engineering consultant services are an allowable cost for Federal reimbursement under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), provided such costs are associated with an AIP eligible planning, development or equipment project. Sponsors are advised, however, that in order for the cost of consultant services to be eligible, the selection and employment of the consultant must adhere to Federal procurement regulations.

Policies and procedures for procurement of professional services are established in Federal Regulation Title 49 CFR Part 18, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements. The Airport and Airway Improvement Act (AAIA) of 1982, as amended, serves as the enabling legislation. Advisory Circular 150/5100-14, Architectural, Engineering, and Planning Consultant Services for Airport Grant Projects, serves as the official FAA guidance for sponsors to assure conformance with Title 49 CFR Part 18.

Selection of architects and engineering services must comply with Title IX of the Federal Property Administration Services Act of 1949, more commonly referred to as the Brooks Act. Under the Brooks Act, qualification-based selection procedures are to be used for selection of a consulting firm. Fees for services are negotiated after the selection is made. Selections based on cost proposals are not permitted if AIP participation in the cost of consultant services is desired.

Per Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments: Procurement, Title 49 CFR Part 18.36, grantees are to conduct the consultant selection process in a manner that ensures fair and open competition. Sponsors are urged not to enter into the procurement process with a preselection mentality. Exclusionary practices are to be avoided.

The requests for proposals should be adequately publicized along with the established evaluation criteria. All submitted proposals are to be evaluated based on the pre-established criteria. Firms are to be rated based on the evaluation results. The sponsor may prepare a short list of three to five firms from this evaluation in order to further assess the top-rated firms. Eventually, one firm is selected as the most qualified firm. It is only after a selection has been made that the sponsor may enter into negotiations related to fees.

Sponsors are advised that failing to adhere to the requirements of AC 150/5100-14 may result in the loss of Federal participation in the cost of professional service contracts. We recommend that sponsors confer with FAA prior to soliciting for professional services to avoid misdirected work activities and noncompliance with Federal requirements. Sponsors are also urged to seek FAA review and approval of an engineering agreement prior to execution in order to limit the risk of an ineligible cost determination.