The National Academies

NCHRP 20-07/Task 408 [RFP]

Transportation System Management and Operations (TSMO) Workforce: Skills, Positions, Recruitment, Retention, and Career Development
[ NCHRP 20-07 (Research for AASHTO Standing Committee on Highways) ]

Posted Date: 4/21/2017

  Project Data
Funds: $199,000
(funded jointly by NCHRP 20-07 and NCHRP 20-24 programs)
Contract Time: 15 months
(includes 2 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final documents)
Authorization to Begin Work: 7/3/2017 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Andrew C. Lemer
   Phone: 202/334-3972
   Email: alemer@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 5/31/2017
Fiscal Year: 2017


While precise definitions vary among practitioners, “transportation system management and operations” (TSM&O, or simply TSMO) comprises generally a collection of technologies, services, and operating strategies aimed at delivering reliable, safe, and efficient transportation and timely information to travelers and shippers to enable them to make informed decisions to minimize their unexpected delay and improve the safety of their travel. As an area of professional practice, TSMO is a multifaceted approach to maintaining and improving the capacity, security, safety, and reliability of our multimodal transportation system. TSMO practice has increased in scope and prominence as practitioners have developed and adapted increasingly sophisticated ways of applying electronics, communication, information management, and data analytics technologies to enhance the capabilities and performance of our transportation infrastructure. State departments of transportation (DOTs) and other agencies responsible for that infrastructure face growing needs for a fully competent workforce to provide TSMO technical and managerial expertise as staff members and consultants. Recruiting and developing such expertise is complicated by generational shifts within the larger professional and technical workforce and the rapid pace of technological innovation as well as by the particular challenges government agencies face in a competitive labor market.

The National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) was organized as a partnership of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA), with support from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The partnership works to provide resources and services to support the TSMO professional community.

In June of 2016, NOCoE hosted a 2-day summit on TSMO workforce development, bringing together a diverse group of practitioners, agency managers, human resource (HR) specialists, professional education and training specialists, and professional service providers. The summit’s goal was to identify viable actions to encourage and influence development of resources to support rapid evolution of the TSMO workforce. (See http://www.transportationops.org/publications/nocoe-2016-workforce-summit-proceedings-and-implementation-plan.) The workshop discussions highlighted a range of issues that agencies face in developing and maintaining their TSMO capabilities and identified high-priority actions to begin addressing these issues:

• Convene a forum to engage TSMO agencies, private-sector firms, and educators in discussion to characterize needs and solutions for pre-employment TSMO professional education
• Establish a repository of existing TSMO-related education resources at U.S. post-secondary educational institutions
• Develop or assemble model TSMO position descriptions (PDs) for entry-level and advanced positions
• Develop or assemble statements of TSMO knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA) or professional technical qualifications (PTQ) to characterize TSMO entry-level and advanced technical, supervisory, and leadership positions and assess gaps between these and available education and training resources
• Describe model TSMO training programs for onboarding new hires, engaging professionals entering from other practice areas, and enhancing effectiveness in career development
• Describe strategy to enhance TSMO visibility as a core area of professional practice
• Document current exemplary TSMO workforce recruitment
• Document current exemplary TSMO workforce retention and professional development practices of public and private entities

 NOCoE, AASHTO, and others in the professional community have initiated research and development work to address a number of these high-priority actions and advance TSMO professional practices. Further effort is needed.


The objective of this research is to build on prior and current activities of NOCoE, AASHTO, and others to produce resources and guidance—for DOTs and others (such as educational institutions, consultants)—for development of TSMO capabilities in four specific areas: (1) model position descriptions (PDs) for describing DOT staff at entry-level and advanced levels of TSMO responsibilities, (2) KSA or PTQ statements characterizing TSMO entry-level and advanced technical and management positions, (3) guidance on effective and exemplary practices for recruitment of TSMO personnel, and (4) guidance on effective and exemplary practices for professional development and retention of TSMO staff.

As envisioned in this request, guidance should consider likely technology, workforce, and transportation policy developments within the next 5 to 15 years. The guidance should be helpful to agencies that employ TSMO professionals and to organizations that educate and train such professionals and support their career development. The guidance should be adaptable to suit the variety of employment regimes (for example, union, right-to-work, and at-will employment; public- and private-sectors) that exist across the nation.

Proposals should include a fully developed research plan to accomplish the project objective. The research plan must show the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective, and describe a research effort that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. The plan must be divided into tasks that are the basis for budgeting and project management and delivering the products specified here, and should include periodic teleconference meetings with the NCHRP project panel to discuss progress. The specified products are intended to be indicative of NCHRP thinking regarding the content of guidance to be produced, but should not necessarily constrain proposers’ thinking. All such meetings shall be via web conference or telephone. NCHRP will make arrangements for these meetings.

The research should produce at least the following products:

1. Kickoff web conference engaging research-team and NCHRP project-panel members to discuss the research objective, project work plan, and expectations regarding research products.

Note: Proposers should plan that the kickoff web conference of approximately 90 minutes duration will be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time following the contractor’s receipt of authorization to proceed; NCHRP staff will make arrangements for the meeting.

2. Interim report 1 describing (a) existing TSMO-related post-secondary educational programs and course materials currently available and under development in U.S. institutions and (b) exemplary current practices for recruiting new entrants and supporting career advancement of TSMO professionals, within the several employment regimes where TSMO workforce development and recruitment models may be applied.

Note: All interim reports shall be delivered as electronic files in formats suitable for NCHRP review and comment. Each interim report shall be produced as a draft for review and a revised version addressing NCHRP comments. NCHRP shall be allowed not less than 2 weeks for review of the interim reports. The research team shall respond to NCHRP comments on each draft interim report in preparing the final versions of the report.

3. Interim report 2 presenting representative PDs for TSMO professionals employed by a DOT or similar agency.

4. Interim report 3 presenting KSA or PTQ statements to characterize TSMO entry-level and advanced technical and supervisory and leadership positions and assessing what gaps exist between these and available education and training resources.

5. Interim report 4 presenting a strategic management framework to assist DOTs in developing recruiting and career development programs for TSMO personnel and documenting training effective and exemplary practices for recruitment, professional development, and retention of TSMO staff.

Note: Without intending to constrain proposers’ thinking, NCHRP envisions that the framework will address the roles of TSMO in DOTs and TSMO practitioners within the DOT workforce, and how recruitment, professional development, and retention practices contribute to pursuit of the agency’s mission. Recruitment practices will include programs and tools used in either private or public sectors and targeting new entrants and experienced personnel with non-traditional backgrounds as well as graduates in fields more traditionally identified with transportation facilities and operations. Professional development and retention practices may include, for example, mentoring, succession planning, cross training, special assignments, individual career planning support, and compensation strategies.

6. Draft and final guidebook on developing and maintaining a DOT’s TSMO professional capabilities, presenting previously developed materials in ways to facilitate use.

Note: Proposers should plan that final versions of all interim reports will be made available through the NOCoE information portal to support that organization’s efforts to advance TSMO practice. NCHRP envisions that the guidebook will incorporate as appropriate content from the final interim reports, formatted to facilitate dissemination and use and consistent with NCHRP standards. NCHRP shall be allowed not less than 4 weeks for review of the draft guidebook. Draft and revised final guidebooks shall be reproducible in printed form; proposers should assume for budgeting that 20 copies each of the draft and final guidebook shall be required.


A. NCHRP anticipates that proposers will recognize that this research engages workforce as well as transportation system management issues, and will be familiar with relevant literature and ongoing work of the NOCoE, AASHTO, Federal Highway Administration, ITS America, Institute of Transportation Engineers, and others. The following sources may be particularly relevant to the work anticipated here:

• The National Operations Center of Excellence web site offers access to publications and on-demand learning resources at http://www.transportationops.org/
• NCHRP Project 20-77: Transportation Operations Framework was intended to develop a training and capacity building framework for transportation operations technicians, engineers, and managers. Interim and final products of that work are available at http://www.catt.umd.edu/research/transportation-operations-framework
• SHRP 2 report, “Business Case Primer: Communicating the Value of Transportation Systems Management And Operations,” at http://www.transportationops.org/business-cases/business-case-primer-communicating-value-transportation-systems-management-and

B. Proposals shall be delivered as an email attachment in PDF format to alemer@nas.edu and slcampbell@nas.edu by 4:30 pm (ET) May 31, 2017 by using the reference NCHRP 20-07/Task 408 RFP. The Research Plan section of the proposal must not exceed 10 pages in length; the typeface used must not be smaller than 12 points. The Research Plan should include an explicit statement of tasks to be completed, which must be linked clearly to the breakdowns of labor hours and costs; see Special Note C. The proposal as a whole shall not exceed 25 8.5-x11-inch pages.

C. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf
). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure.

D. Item 5 in the proposal, "Qualifications of the Research Team," must include a section labeled "Disclosure." Information relevant to the NCHRP's need to ensure objectivity and to be aware of possible sources of significant financial or organizational conflict of interest in conducting the research must be presented in this section of the proposal. For example, under certain conditions, ownership of the proposing agency, other organizational relationships, or proprietary rights and interests could be perceived as jeopardizing an objective approach to the research effort, and proposers are asked to disclose any such circumstances and to explain how they will be accounted for in this study. If there are no issues related to objectivity, this should be stated.

E. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) the proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises--small firms owned and controlled by minorities or women; and (6) the adequacy of the facilities.

Note: The proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 12 of the proposal.

Proposals are due not later than 4:30 p.m. on 5/31/2017.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected. All proposals must be delivered electronically as instructed in the Request for Proposals.  

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered liability statement in order for the NCHRP to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a printable version of the Liability Statement (pdf). A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at http://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (updated August 2016). Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected. This brochure is available here.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.


Potential proposers should understand clearly that the research project described herein is tentative. The final content of the program depends on the level of funding made available through States' agreements for financial support of the NCHRP. Nevertheless, to be prepared to execute research contracts as soon as possible after sponsors' approvals, the NCHRP is assuming that the tentative program will become official in its entirety and is proceeding with requests for proposals and selections of research agencies.

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