5526.05 Evaluation of qualifications.

(A) For every professional service contract for which the department of transportation provides public notice under section 5526.03 of the Revised Code, the director of transportation shall evaluate the qualifications of each firm seeking to enter into the contract with the department. The director may hold discussions with any such firm for the purposes of obtaining more information about a statement of qualifications submitted by the firm, the scope and nature of the services that the firm would provide, and the various technical approaches that the firm may take with respect to the project to which the proposed contract applies.

(B) Following the evaluation of the qualifications of firms and any additional discussions with those firms with respect to a contract for professional services, the director shall do both of the following:

(1) Select and rank no fewer than three firms that the director considers to be the most qualified to provide the required professional services unless the director determines that fewer than three qualified firms are available, in which case the director shall select and rank those firms;

(2) Negotiate a contract with the firm that is ranked the most qualified to perform the required professional services. The contract negotiations shall be directed toward all of the following:

(a) Ensuring that the firm and the department have a mutual understanding of the essential requirements involved in providing the required professional services;

(b) Determining that the firm will make available the necessary personnel, equipment, and facilities to perform the professional services within the time that will be required in the contract;

(c) Agreeing on compensation that is fair and reasonable, taking into account the estimated value, scope, complexity, and nature of the services.

(C) Upon the failure to negotiate a contract with the firm that is ranked most qualified under division (B) of this section, the director shall notify the firm in writing of the termination of negotiations and shall enter into negotiations with the firm that is ranked next most qualified. If negotiations fail with that firm, the director shall negotiate with each subsequently ranked firm in order of ranking until a contract is negotiated and entered into or until the director selects and ranks additional firms under division (D) of this section. All negotiations shall comply with this section and any rules adopted under this chapter.

(D) If the director fails to negotiate a contract with any of the firms selected under division (B) of this section, the director shall select and rank additional firms based on their qualifications. Negotiations shall continue in the same manner as with the firms selected and ranked under division (B) of this section until a contract is negotiated and entered into.

(E) When a contract is negotiated, the director, if required under section 127.16 of the Revised Code, shall request approval of the controlling board to make expenditures under the contract. However, if the director is selecting firms for a group of contracts included in a single announcement and the approval of the controlling board is required under that section, the director may present the selections as a group to the controlling board for the board's approval prior to negotiation of the contracts. Final negotiations of the group of contracts may be completed after the controlling board's approval. If the director fails to negotiate a contract with a firm that is selected to perform one of the contracts of a group of contracts, the director shall notify the controlling board of the selection of an alternate firm under division (C) or (D) of this section.

If the estimated construction cost of a project is twenty million dollars or more, the director may present preliminary estimates regarding the project to the controlling board for the purpose of requesting authority to select firms and enter into contracts for professional services for that project without further consent of the controlling board. The director shall keep itemized records of the funds that are obligated under each contract and shall report those amounts to the controlling board annually.

Effective Date: 06-29-2001