The FHWA Every Day Counts Program brought national visibility to implementing alternative technical concepts (ATCs) for incorporation in transportation projects. FHWA continues to encourage state DOTs to implement this alternative contracting method on projects delivered using design-build (DB), construction manager at-risk (CMR) or construction manager/general contractor (CMGC), and design-bid-build (DBB) contracts. ATCs have a well-documented potential for accruing sizable benefits in cost savings, increased constructability, and schedule reduction. In almost every case, the approved ATC was in reality a previously unrecognized approach to alter the design and enhance its constructability by matching the design of a given feature of work with the proposing contractor’s preferred means and methods.
NCHRP Synthesis 455: Alternative Technical Concepts for Contract Delivery Methods found that the major barrier to implementing ATCs on all types of highway construction projects is the perceived difficulty by state transportation agencies and contractors in revising commitments made during the environmental permitting process and included in the Record of Decision. While projects in Minnesota and Missouri have successfully revised their environmental documents to take advantage of potentially large savings from ATCs without a substantial delay in the project schedule, there is a perception held both in industry and by DOT project managers that any change to approved environmental documents will trigger an unacceptable delay. During a FHWA Every Day Counts ATC Implementation outreach workshop with industry, both contractors and design consultants agreed that they tend to summarily dismiss any potential ATC that alters the project’s environmental permit regardless of the potential cost or time savings. Research is needed to identify impediments to the implementation of industry-driven innovation such as ATCs and value engineering and to better understand the implications for NEPA compliance.
The objective of this research is to develop a decision-making framework to assist transportation agencies in evaluating savings (cost, time, or both) from using constructability reviews and industry input during planning, design, and permitting. The framework should be scalable to all contract delivery methods and comply with all statutory requirements necessary to mitigate impacts to the natural and cultural environment. It should also consider previously agreed upon environmental commitments without limiting design innovation.
The research should address a broad range of issues related to constructability reviews and industry input during planning and design, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Benchmarking the current state of practice in constructability reviews;
- How procurement and construction schedules are impacted by constructability reviews and industry input;
- How constructability reviews and industry input influences NEPA and other environmental permitting processes;
- Appropriate practices for limiting specificity and prescriptiveness that affect design commitments;
- Identification of any flexibility during the NEPA process for innovation;
- Successful practices for streamlining or minimizing the need for amendments to approved environmental documents, which may emerge due to modifications derived from the use of ACTs or value engineering methods;
- Successful practices developed in states (e.g., California, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Utah) that have accepted NEPA assignment from FHWA as per 23 USC 327;
- Effective practices for transportation agencies to evaluate the long-term value of constructability reviews and industry input; and
- Identification of savings opportunities (cost, time, or both) deriving from constructability reviews and industry input.
The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can be realistically accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposer’s current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
A kick-off teleconference of the research team and NCHRP shall be scheduled within 1 month of the contract’s execution. The work plan must be divided logically into detailed tasks that are necessary to fulfill the research objective and include appropriate milestones and interim deliverables. Tasks shall include information gathering tasks as described in the objective and should incorporate opportunities for the project panel to review the progress and provide feedback.
A workshop shall be developed and convened with representatives from transportation agencies to demonstrate the proposed framework and gather feedback.
The work plan should address the manner in which the proposer intends to use the developed information to satisfy the project objectives and the plan for the workshop. There must be a face-to-face meeting with NCHRP to discuss the interim report.
The costs for the workshop, including invitational travel for up to 30 attendees, shall be included in the detailed budget for the research. The contractor will be responsible for the reimbursement of travel costs of additional attendees. TRB will cover costs associated with the meeting spaces, and NCHRP panel travel.
The final deliverables will include:
- The decision-making framework for transportation agencies for implementing constructability reviews and industry input across the entire project development process, during planning, design, and permitting;
- Training materials for use by state transportation agencies for implementing constructability reviews and industry input during project development;
- A final report documenting the entire project, incorporating all other specified deliverables of the research, and the data that was gathered;
- An electronic presentation on the research results that can be tailored for specific audiences;
- Recommendations on needs and priorities for additional research; and
- A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note D for additional information). Proposers may recommend additional deliverables to support the project objective.
Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverables.
A. The proposal, including appendices, shall not exceed 25 pages and the Research Plan, Item 4 of the proposal, shall not exceed 14 pages, in 12-point font or larger. Item 5 of the proposal shall be limited to 2 pages of biographical information for each person.
B. 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. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
C. NCHRP wishes to award the contract for NCHRP Project 10-99 for a fixed price of $450,000. This amount will not be subject to any adjustment by reason of the contractor’s cost experience in the performance of the contract. In addition to providing a detailed budget, the proposer should provide a proposed schedule of project milestones, deliverables and progress payments tied to the detailed budget and schedule which will be inclusive of specific dates. For budgeting purposes, proposers should assume that (1) NCHRP will provide access to web-enabled teleconference services and (2) 1 in-person meeting with the NCHRP project panel will be held in Washington, DC. NCHRP will pay panel members’ travel costs for the meeting.
D. The NCHRP is a practical, applied research program that produces implementable products addressing problems faced by transportation practitioners and managers. The benefits of NCHRP research are realized only when the results are implemented in state DOTs and other agencies. Implementation of the research product must be considered throughout the process, from problem statement development to research contract and beyond completion of the research. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," must include the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, and (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in deploying the research product. The project panel will develop and maintain an implementation plan throughout the life of the project. The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_ActiveImplementation.pdf.
E. 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.
F. 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.
G. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.
H. Research agencies are encouraged to include personnel with diverse, relevant experience and expertise to reflect the broad scope of knowledge required to complete the project. Universities who propose graduate students should describe their field of study and specify the team member with oversight responsibility for their work.