With the increasing number and complexity of federal procurement guidelines, state DOT’s face a challenging situation when attempting to procure vans, rural demand responsive vehicles or full size transit vehicles either on behalf of their grantees or setting up a state consortium. The level of state DOT involvement in these types of procurements varies from state to state, but most states find it more viable for ensuring federal compliance by being involved in the procurement, as opposed to having grantees procure the vehicles on their own and then having to ensure that the grantees (especially Section 5310 recipients) are in full compliance with federal procurement requirements. As in many procurement activities, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach for procuring transit vehicles, and a number of states do this in many different ways. However, in the light of recent FTA "Dear Colleague Letters" and procurement rulings, state DOTs are less certain of long standing procurement models. In some instances, “piggybacking” off of other contracts is viewed negatively by in-state vendors that lose business to out-of-state vendors providing the same vehicle type they sell, or viewed as limiting in-state competition.
There are a number of states that would like to develop a state-wide or consortium transit bus procurement program or reevaluate their current procurement practice, but do not know the options available to them or the attributes and limitations of doing either.
Further, there are a number of transit vehicle procurement activities that states undertake that are not performed for the purpose of meeting federal procurement requirements but are beneficial to the process or final product. An analysis of these activities from a “best practice” perspective would provide the states with options for consideration in their procurement process. Possible activities to be explored in this analysis could include pilot vehicle development; in-plant inspections; pre-bid conferences; multi-year contracts; escalation clauses; vehicle options, etc.
The objective of this research is to develop a matrix of the following:
- Various state-operated or consortium transit vehicle procurement methods now being employed, how each works, the attributes and limitations of each from the state, grantee and vendor perspectives, and the staff resources needed to accomplish each procurement method;
- Basic, federal procurement regulations and guidance (including best practices manual and FAQ’s) associated with each method of procurement and which entity (state or grantee) has responsibility for compliance;
- Non-required procurement activities that states are employing, the attributes and limitation of each, and which one(s) should be considered a “best practice.”