Designer Selection Panel FAQ's

Q. Can our district select any architect/designer that we want?

A. Under the MSBA’s statute and regulations, for projects with an estimated construction cost in excess of $5 million, the district will need to select a designer through the MSBA’s Designer Selection Panel (DSP). The district will be responsible for issuing a request for qualifications for designers. The DSP will evaluate the qualifications statements received and will refer a ranked list of up to three firms to the district. It is expected that the district will enter into a contract with the top-ranked firm. The DSP consists of 15 members, 12 permanent members and three members appointed by the school district.

Q. Does the District have to use the MSBA Designer RFS Template to procure a Designer?

A. Yes.  The District must use the MSBA Designer RFS Template for the procurement of a designer to qualify for MSBA funding.  The template should be downloaded each time there is a new procurement as the document is regularly being updated. The MSBA must review and approve the draft RFS before any advertisements are published and the District should allow a minimum of 10 business days for MSBA review.

Q. Can I attend the DSP meetings?

A. The DSP's meetings are open to the public and all discussions relating to applicants and the selection of designers for specific projects are conducted in open session. (To encourage discussion, however, competitors are asked to voluntarily leave the room when designer candidates are being interviewed by the DSP for specific projects). Executive sessions (i.e., - sessions closed to the public) are rare and would only be warranted under certain circumstances. Anyone, including designers who have responded to the RFS for a Project as well as other interested parties, is welcome to attend the DSP's meeting and listen to the DSP's discussion.

Q. Where can I get a list of MSBA approved designers?

A. There is no list of “approved” designers. Each request for designer services is individually advertised by the respective city, town or regional school district in the Massachusetts Central Register and a local newspaper and each project designer is procured separately. Applications can be submitted by and are encouraged from any designer that believes they are qualified to provide the requested services.

Q. MSBA Designer Selection Procedures require that applicants file a Master File Brochure (MFB) with the DSP prior to filing an application for a project. Is there a required format for the MFB?

A. Currently, the MSBA Designer Selection Panel (DSP) utilizes the same form as required by the Designer Selection Board of the Commonwealth.

Q. What form do I use to apply for a project?

A. The DSP uses the Standard Designer Application Form for Municipalities and Public Agencies not within the DSB Jurisdiction developed by the Designer Selection Board of the Commonwealth.

Q. Should the District meet with potential applicants, conduct interviews, or provide recommendations or “short lists” of potential designer candidates prior to coming before the DSP?

A. No. The District, usually through the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM), should verify each applicant’s qualifications under MGL c.7C, s. 44, et seq., and check all listed references, but all applicants that meet the minimum qualifications set forth in the RFS must be presented to the full DSP (including the local representatives) for discussion and deliberation. Any interviews of the applicants are conducted before the full DSP at a scheduled DSP meeting, only after the DSP decides (through a vote of the full Panel) that such interviews are appropriate.

Once it has been determined that interviews will be conducted, all communication regarding the potential project must be forwarded in writing to the MSBA DSP staff.  Communication relative to the project before the DSP between applicants and any individual associated with the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM), District or MSBA other than the DSP staff is strictly prohibited.  Failure to observe this rule will result in disqualification of the applicant.


Q. Can the District hold a pre-proposal conference?

A. Districts can hold informational pre-proposal conferences prior to the deadline for receipt of applications provided that invitations to such conferences are publically advertised and open to all interested parties. Districts should record all questions raised along with the answers provided and distribute them to all parties that requested copies of the Request for Services.  Questions raised outside of these pre-proposal conferences should be requested in writing and the questions and answers, along with any other additional information provided, should also be distributed to all parties that requested copies of the Request for Services.

Q. MSBA regulations require designers to be certified in the Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official Program (MCPPO). How does one obtain such certification?

A. The MCPPO Program is administered by the Office of the Inspector General. For more information about this program, click here.

Q. Does my MCPPO certification expire?

A. Yes. MCPPO certification expires 3 years from the date of your certification.

Q. Will my project be subject to participation goals for Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises?

A. Any public project where the estimated design fee exceeds $100,000 is subject to the MBE and WBE participation goals of the Supplier Diversity Office (SDO), formerly known as the State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance (SOMWBA). For more information on the SDO, click here.