The Board of Commissioners, acting as the executive branch of county government, is provided wide latitude in Indiana Code in selecting what are called "professional services" (e.g. architects, engineers, lawyers, accountants) where the skill set, experience, and aptitude of the individual or firm is of paramount importance. Rather than a bid or Request for Proposal (RFP) process, when there is not a known professional service provider, government units will sometimes use a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process. In an RFQ process, firms or individuals are asked to provide their qualifications based on the project or task needing completed. As an example, the State of Indiana commonly uses an RFQ process in selecting engineers for road and bridge projects. Some firms have more expertise and experience than others in bridges that span rivers or elevate over existing roads or train tracks. After selecting for qualification, a price is then negotiated with the individual or firm deemed most qualified. It is possible that a price cannot be successfully negotiated, so the price negotiation process would start with the next possible firm or individual.
For the new jail project, the Board of Commissioners asked their Owners Representative - Construction Controls, Inc. - to put together a list of questions for the RFQ. These questions address the history and financial viability of the company, its experience performing similar projects, the team members who would be assigned to the project, current projects underway, how they would approach a project like this, what planning/design methodology they utilize, and references. Construction Controls, Inc. provided the RFQ to four architectural firms located in Indiana and Ohio who have experience designing confinement centers, as it is a specialized area of practice for an architect. Three firms responded to the RFQ. Constructions Controls and the Board of Commissioners reviewed the submissions and ultimately selected Elevatus Architecture as the most qualified firm for this particular project.