The National Academies

NCHRP 20-44(12) [RFP]

Building Capacity for Self-Assessment of Data Effectiveness for Agency Business Needs

Posted Date: 6/26/2020

  Project Data
Funds: $220,000
Contract Time: 15 months
(includes time for NCHRP review and approval of interim products and 3 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final document)
Authorization to Begin Work: 10/19/2020 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Andrew C. Lemer
   Phone: 202/334-3972
   Email: alemer@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 8/13/2020
Fiscal Year: 2019

State transportation agencies and other transportation agencies produce, store, manage, and use substantial amounts of diverse data and information to support their transportation-system performance management, project delivery, asset management, public safety, environmental protection, and other business areas. Periodic assessment of their data’s costs and effectiveness, and management practices in supporting the agency’s business needs is a means for ensuring that their data are relevant, current, reliable, secure, well documented, and available for analysis and decision making; and that duplications of data collection efforts are avoided. 
NCHRP research produced a guidebook, NCHRP Report 814: Data to Support Transportation Agency Business Needs: A Self-Assessment Guide, to help state agencies and metropolitan planning organization decision makers and data practitioners to evaluate and improve their data quality and data management practices. The guide was published in 2015. Supplemental materials produced in the underlying research—a PowerPoint executive presentation, a flyer outlining the data self-assessment process, and spreadsheet tools to assist agency implementation of a self-assessment process—were intended to facilitate application of the practices presented in the guidebook.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) collaborated with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to sponsor two workshops—in December 2017 and January 2018 engaging 12 states and one metropolitan agency—to encourage dissemination and application of the principles and practices presented in NCHRP Report 814 and the supplemental materials. An objective of the workshops was to encourage agencies to apply and demonstrate the benefits of these principles and practices and thereby attract other agencies to undertake data self-assessment. The Data Self-Assessment Workshops: Final Report documented this effort. (See Special Note B.)
The workshop participants indicated that agencies at current levels of maturity in data management need assistance—beyond that provided by NCHRP Report 814—to effectively adapt and apply the principles and practices presented in the self-assessment guide. Many of the participating agencies expressed interest in follow-up activities that could provide such assistance tailored to the specific characteristics and perceived needs of each agency.
The objectives of this research are to encourage dissemination and application of the principles and practices presented in NCHRP Report 814: Data to Support Transportation Agency Business Needs: A Self-Assessment Guide by (1) developing a plan to deliver professional services support for selected agencies undertaking to apply the principles and practices presented in NCHRP Report 814; (2) preparing guidance and communication materials, supplemental to NCHRP Report 814, on preparation for and support of the conduct of a data self-assessment; (3) providing limited assistance to each agency during the data self-assessment; and (4) documenting effective practices of participating agencies that could be transferrable to other agencies for adopting principles and practices for assessing and improving their data adequacy to support agency business needs. Upon completion of this research project, each participating agency should have developed and at least initiated action to follow a management roadmap for implementing unified, enterprise-wide governance of transportation system data self-assessment.
NCHRP has recruited 9 transportation agencies that have agreed to participate in this project; see Special Note A. Proposers are asked to describe a detailed research plan to accomplish the project objectives. The following scope description is intended to indicate NCHRP’s expectations and provide a framework for that research plan. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time and will provide opportunities for NCHRP to review and comment on research progress. Proposers must present their current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach.
The research should include at least the following deliverable products and milestones:
1. A 60- to 90-minute kickoff web conference with the NCHRP project panel, within 2 weeks of the contract’s effective date, to discuss the work plan, important technical issues, and review procedures for research products.
Note: For budgeting purposes, proposers may assume that NCHRP will make arrangements for all web conferences.
2. Interim Report 1 (IR1) delivered in electronic form only within 2 months of the contract’s effective date presenting (a) a plan for engagement with the state and regional transportation agencies participating in this research to achieve the project objectives; (b) an assessment of each participating agency’s needs for support and guidance for application of the data self-assessment as described by NCHRP Report 814; and (c) a plan and schedule for working with each agency to provide support to meet these needs.
Note: NCHRP will require at least 2 weeks for review of IR1. Proposers should plan to meet via web conference with the NCHRP project panel after the review period to discuss the content of IR1. The contractor shall be responsible for documenting the discussion and decisions made. NCHRP anticipates that work may proceed on other elements of the research during the IR1 review period.
3. Interim Report 2 (IR2) delivered in electronic form only within 5 months of the contract’s effective date presenting an analysis of (a) typical practices of state and regional agencies to identify resource needs (for example, workforce and skill sets); (b) knowledge management practices regarding data- and information-management capabilities; and (c) a system of maturity levels or other state-of-the-practice benchmarks to characterize a transportation agency’s data- and information-management practices.
Note: NCHRP will require no less than 2 weeks for review of IR2.  Proposers should plan to meet via web conference with the NCHRP project panel after the review period to discuss the content of IR2. NCHRP anticipates that work may proceed on other elements of the research during the IR2 review period.
4. Interim Report 3 (IR3) delivered in electronic form only within 9 months of the contract’s effective date presenting (a) a report of engagement with participating agencies and results of engagement; (b) a characterization of principal management strategies agencies can use for implementing practices described in NCHRP Report 814; and (c) an annotated outline of a final project report documenting the project and presenting lessons learned from engagement with participating agencies.
Note: NCHRP will require at least 2 weeks for review of IR3. Proposers should plan to meet in person with the NCHRP project panel after the review period to discuss the content of IR3 and agree on a strategy for the project’s completion. NCHRP anticipates that a 1-day meeting will be adequate but proposers should present their thinking on the matter. For budgeting purposes, proposers shall assume that the meeting will be held at the Keck Center in Washington, DC; NCHRP will pay travel costs for project panel members only. 
5. Draft and revised final report documenting the project and presenting lessons learned from engagement with participating agencies, the draft delivered within 12 months of the contract’s effective date.
Note: NCHRP intends that the products of this research should be helpful to agencies responsible for management of transportation system data and does not wish to constrain unnecessarily the format for presenting guidance. NCHRP anticipates that dissemination activities identified in the draft final report, if pursued, will be conducted outside of the scope and budget of this project. Proposers should present their current thinking on this matter. NCHRP will require 4 weeks to review and provide comments on the draft guidebook. NCHRP will require a “response to comments” memorandum documenting NCHRP comments on the draft report and contractor responses as reflected in the revised report and related documents. 
Proposers should plan that NCHRP will require 20 printed copies each of the draft and final documents. Three months of the 15-month total shall be required at conclusion of the project for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the draft final deliverables.
A. The following agencies have agreed to participate in this project; specific contact names and other information will be provided to the selected contractor: California DOT, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Iowa DOT, Maryland State Highway Administration, Minnesota DOT, Montana DOT, Oregon DOT, Pennsylvania DOT, and Utah DOT.
B. Proposers should be familiar with at least the following data-related publications and research projects:
C. The Research Plan, Section 4 of the proposal, must not exceed 12 pages in length. The typeface used must not be smaller than 12 points.
D. 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. NCHRP encourages contracting on the basis of a firm fixed price; proposals made on this basis should also include a schedule of milestones and payments matched in a clear and logical manner to the breakdown of costs. 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.
E. 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.
F. 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.
G. 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) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 12 of the proposal.
H. 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.

Proposals should be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/XcvdnFncsnz809e9Cyds 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 8/13/2020.

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.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB 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 July 2019). 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.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

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