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The National Academies

NCHRP 25-62 [RFP]

Improving the Efficiency and Consistency of Section 106 Compliance for State DOTs: Strategies for Project-Level Programmatic Agreements and Postwar Commercial Properties

Posted Date: 10/10/2019

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
(The budget for Tasks 1 and 2 combined is limited to $100,000.)
Contract Time: 36 months
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/15/2020 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Ann M. Hartell
   Phone: 202/334-2369
   Email: ahartell@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 12/12/2019
Fiscal Year: 2020

BACKGROUND
 
Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), when a transportation project involves federal funding, licensing, or permitting, transportation agencies must identify and evaluate properties that are listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Section 106 also requires that transportation agencies determine if a project will have adverse effects on historic properties and how those effects can be resolved. Experience has shown that successful and timely completion of Section 106 consultation can be a challenge when, for instance, it is initiated too late in the project development process, or when it involves complex projects, large numbers of consulting parties, or ubiquitous or understudied property types.
 
State departments of transportation (DOTs) continue to seek ways to better fulfill their Section 106 responsibilities while also supporting expedited project delivery schedules and managing agency resources effectively. Two valuable strategies are (1) the use of project-level programmatic agreements (PAs) and (2) a robust approach to context development, identification, and evaluation of a challenging property type.  
 
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) describes PAs in this way:
 
PAs generally fall into two types: "project PAs" and "program PAs." There are occasions where completing the Section 106 process prior to making a final decision on a particular undertaking is not practical. The regulations allow an agency to pursue a "project PA" (36 CFR § 800.14(b)(3)), rather than a [Memorandum of Agreement] (MOA) under certain circumstances. The most common situation where a project PA may be appropriate is when, prior to approving the undertaking, the federal agency cannot fully determine how a particular undertaking may affect historic properties or the location of historic properties and their significance and character. For instance, the agency may be required by law to make a final decision on an undertaking within a timeframe that simply cannot accommodate the standard Section 106 process, particularly when the undertaking's area of potential effects encompasses large areas of land or when the undertaking may consist of multiple activities that could adversely affect historic properties. (https://www.achp.gov/do_you_need_a_Section_106_agreement).
 
By stipulating commitments in a project-level PA, Section 106 can be administratively completed earlier in project development. Such agreements structure the Section 106 consultation process to align with expedited project delivery schedules, which are often a feature of design build (DB) or public-private partnership (P3) contracting arrangements; some state DOTs are also considering project-level PAs in connection with EO 13807 (One Federal Decision).  A recent study documented current practice in program-level PAs, in which FHWA delegates certain Section 106 responsibilities to a state DOT, (NCHRP 25-25 Task 107 available at https://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=4103); however, the full range of how project-level PAs are being used by state DOTs is not well documented and practitioners often rely on anecdotal information about developing and implementing these agreements.
 
The second strategya robust methodology for assessing challenging propertiesis especially needed for commercial properties in urban, suburban, and rural areas constructed from 1945 to 1980. Because of the large number of properties dating from this postwar era, state DOTs and other agencies must dedicate considerable staff and other resources to meet these evaluation requirements. The diverse forms of these property types reflect the various trends of the period. For example, from 1945 to 1960, rapid, automobile-oriented suburbanization prompted the construction of drive-up and drive-thru restaurants. The energy crisis of the 1970s influenced commercial design forms and materials choices. Other forces may be relevant in some regions of the country, such as corporate consolidation and changes in environmental regulation (e.g., regulation of underground storage tanks that triggered closings and abandonments of gas stations) in the 1980s or 1990s. Many commercial properties built from 1945 to 1980 were completed by major architectural firms or by companies that produced innovative new materials and construction methods, thus reflecting the nation’s architectural, social, and cultural heritage. Even more properties were constructed using locally derived designs and materials (e.g., small, single story, cinder block grocery stores). These vernacular properties can also be significant, if, for example, they represent a common architectural form or contribute to a historic district. Apart from potential historic eligibility, postwar commercial properties are valued resources in many communities. 
 
NCHRP Report 723: A Model for Identifying and Evaluating the Historic Significance of Post-World War II Housing provides a national historic context and National Register eligibility guidelines for postwar houses and residential subdivisions. However, little guidance is available for postwar commercial properties such as gas stations, shopping centers, drug stores, office buildings, restaurants, and other non-residential properties. As a result, evaluations of these property types require significant time and staff resources. Inconsistent approaches also provide regulatory partners with inconsistent information, which means more time may be needed to complete consultation, resulting in project delays. Further, the volume of postwar property evaluations can be overwhelming for state DOTs, FHWA division offices, state historic preservation officers (SHPOs), and tribal historic preservation officers (THPOs). 
 
Research is needed to provide state DOTs, their regulatory partners, and other stakeholders with guidance on how to adopt and implement these two strategies.
 
OBJECTIVE
 
The objective of this research is to equip state DOTs, SHPOs, THPOs, and other partners to improve their efforts in meeting their Section 106 responsibilities in two major areas of practice by providing:
 
(1)   A review of current use of and best practices and lessons learned in the development and implementation of project-level PAs; and
(2)   A structured, replicable methodology for context development, identification, and evaluation of common commercial property types built between 1945 and 1980.
 
Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.
 
TASKS
 
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. 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 realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. The research plan should build in appropriate checkpoints with the NCHRP project panel, including, at a minimum, a web-enabled kick-off meeting to be held within 1 month of the contract start date and one face-to-face interim report review meeting with additional web-enabled meetings tied to panel review and/or NCHRP approval of interim deliverables as appropriate. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
 
Task 1.   Information collection strategy: project-level PAs. Develop a detailed strategy to collect information from state DOTs and their Section 106 regulatory partners and stakeholders on current practice in using project-level PAs. Topics of interest include:
 
·         Considerations in determining the appropriate use of a project-level PA
·         Project types and contracting arrangements where project-level PAs are currently used (e.g., Environmental Assessments, Environmental Impact Statements, Categorical Exclusions, DB, P3)
·         Project-level PAs for One Federal Decision projects
·         Characteristics of project-level PAs including:
o   Length of time needed for the development of the agreement
o   Coordination, sequencing, and timing of the PA development with the overall project schedule and other environmental requirements (e.g., NEPA, 4(f))
o   Consultation strategies (before, during, and after execution of the agreement)
o   Stipulations that assign certain responsibilities for Section 106 consultation to contractors, especially for DB and P3 projects
o   Administrative stipulations (e.g., amendment process, dispute resolution, duration of the agreement)
·         Implementation challenges encountered (e.g., unfulfilled commitments, source of delays)
·         Perspectives from regulatory partners and stakeholders, including SHPOs and Indian tribes as defined in Section 106 regulations (36 C.F.R. § 800.16(m))
·         Reasons that an agency does not currently use project-level PAs
·         Information about project-level PAs developed for other types of linear projects, such as energy pipelines or rail projects, that provide insights relevant for state DOTs
 
The strategy will describe how the information about project-level PAs will be collected as well as draft versions of data collection instruments (e.g., survey questions, survey platform, respondent contact lists, etc.). The technical memorandum will detail sound methods and include strategies to overcome typical challenges such as low survey response rates. A technical memorandum describing the detailed information collection strategy will be provided for NCHRP review and approval.
 
Task 2. Execute the Task 1 data collection strategy and develop state of practice report for project-level PAs. Following the execution of the information collection phase of Task 1, develop a report detailing the results, including best practices and lessons learned. The report should include a graphic presentation (e.g., flow chart or decision tree) of key questions and decision points that a state DOT should consider before using a project-level PA. Provide the report for NCHRP review.
 
Note: The combined budget for Tasks 1 and 2 shall not exceed $100,000; the Task 2 report will be provided to NCHRP no later than 12 months after the contract start date.
 
Task 3.   Information collection strategy: commercial property types. Develop a detailed strategy to collect relevant information on historic contexts for and evaluation of commercial property types constructed from 1945 to 1980. The data collection strategy should recognize that regional variation may extend the relevant time frame beyond 1980. The strategy should be designed to collect the following information:
 
·         Trends and periods that establish historic context for commercial properties of the postwar era. Relevant trends will include those that defined the national context for postwar housing provided by NCHRP Report 723 (e.g., the broad pattern of automobile-oriented suburbanization, community planning), as well as additional trends relevant for commercial properties (e.g., franchising and the use of corporate designs).  
·         The commercial property types of the postwar era that are most commonly encountered by state DOTs, as well as types that are emerging or anticipated to be common in the coming decade. Anticipated types include but are not limited to gas stations, shopping centers, drug stores, restaurants, motels, movie theaters, office buildings, and office parks. Non-commercial property types (e.g., schools, religious buildings, libraries, government buildings) are outside the scope of this project.
·         Commercial property types of the postwar era that present significant challenges for Section 106 due to limited available information, their diverse characteristics, or their vernacular or utilitarian character.
·         Bibliography of relevant resources including key primary and secondary data sources, existing historic contexts, surveys of postwar commercial properties, standard plans.
 
Data and sources should include but not be limited to:
·         Published research in peer-reviewed journals and other scholarly works
·         Practitioner and agency reports and other "grey" literature
·         Applications for historic preservation tax credits
·         NRHP listings of commercial properties
·         HABS/HAER documentation of commercial properties
·         Practitioner outreach (e.g., surveys, interviews, web-based focus groups)
 
The strategy will describe how the literature search will be conducted as well as draft versions of data collection instruments (e.g., survey questions, survey platform, respondent contact lists, etc.). The strategy will be based on sound methods and include strategies to overcome typical challenges such as low survey response rates. A technical memorandum describing the Task 3 information collection strategy will be provided for NCHRP review and approval. 
 
Note: The Task 3 technical memorandum will be provided no later than 3 months after the contract start date. Task 3 shall be conducted concurrently with Tasks 1 and 2.
 
Task 4. Execute the Task 3 information collection strategy and summarize results. Provide a technical memorandum summarizing the information collected:
·         Summary and synthesis of the reviewed literature
·         Annotated bibliography of relevant resources
·         Results of practitioner outreach; and
·         Prioritized list of property types and subtypes for further development and inclusion in the guidance. Provide a rationale supporting the prioritization.
 
Task 5. Draft methodology and proposed pilot studies. The methodology will provide a structured, replicable approach for developing historic contexts and evaluating postwar-era commercial properties. The methodology will equip state DOTs and their partners to answer questions such as:
·         What national, state, or regional trends are relevant for the specific property type?
·         What primary and secondary sources are useful for evaluating this property type?
·         What design elements reflect the trends?
·         What typical modifications can affect integrity?
·         What aspects of integrity are most relevant for this property type?
·         Should both individual eligibility and historic districts be considered?
·         How can stakeholders be identified and engaged in the evaluation?
 
Recommend two proposed pilot studies to apply the methodology. The pilot studies will apply the draft methodology to develop an historic context and model evaluation. One pilot study will be "place-based" and will consider multiple property types in the same state, region, or area of potential effects (APE). One pilot study will be "type-based", focused on a single property type (e.g., roadside restaurant) found in multiple locations. The pilot studies will be original, not duplicates of previously developed contexts or evaluations.
 
Produce an interim report to include:
·         Proposed pilot studies
·         Draft methodology
·         Refined list of property types for the final guidance. For each type, provide a well-developed definition and a concise list of character-defining features in a format similar to that used in NCHRP Report 723.
 
Note: Although Task 5 will draw from the results of Task 4, the proposal should present the proposer’s current thinking for the selection of pilot study locations and/or property types and of the number of property types for inclusion in the final guidance.  
 
The research plan shall provide a 1-month period for review and approval of the interim report. An interim meeting of the NCHRP project panel to discuss the report with the research agency will be required within 18 months from the start date. Costs for the in-person meeting venue and travel costs for NCHRP panel members to attend the interim meeting will be paid by NCHRP. The research agency shall not begin work on the remaining tasks without NCHRP approval.
 
Task 6. Execute the pilot studies. Provide a technical memorandum with:
·         Documentation of the pilot studies
·         Any proposed adjustments to the draft methodology identified during the pilot studies
·         A conceptual design and detailed outline of content for the final deliverables
 
Task 7. Develop draft and final deliverables. Anticipated deliverables include:
·         State of practice report on project-level PAs, designed to be a stand-alone document
·         Report and guidance document on postwar commercial properties including:
o   National and regional trends that shaped commercial property development in the postwar period
o   Methodology for developing historic contexts and identifying and evaluating eligibility and ineligibility for the NRHP
o   Sources and data needed to develop a historic context
o   The pilot studies
o   Summary of the project activities
o   Annotated bibliography of literature and data resources
o   Priorities for additional applications of the methodology to advance implementation (e.g., a historic context for a specific property type or location).
·         At least two items or activities to disseminate the research results to target audiences. Example items include:
o   A draft article suitable for publication in TR News (information regarding TR News publication may be found on the TRB webpage http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/trnews/info4contributors.pdf);
Note: No commitment to publish a TR News article is implied.
o   A recorded presentation or recorded webinar describing the project; or
o   A presentation to a relevant audience such as the AASHTO Committee on Environment and Sustainability or the Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Historic and Archeological Preservation in Transportation (ADC 50).
·         A stand-alone technical memorandum that identifies implementation pathways, key implementers of the results, and well-defined scopes of work for additional pilot implementations of the guidance for priority property types. The technical memorandum should provide adequate detail about how a state DOT can implement the results of NCHRP 25-62 (e.g., timeline, budget, and needed staff resources to apply the methodology to a commercial property type; see Special Note B).
 
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.
 
SPECIAL NOTES
 
A. 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. 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.
 
B. 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.
 
C. 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.
 
D. Item 4, “Research Plan,” shall be limited to no more than 30 8.5” x 11” pages. Material on the research plan included in an appendix will not be considered. Item 5, “Qualification of the Research Team” is limited to one 8.5” x 11” pages for each member of the proposed project team. Item 5 to provide information on the qualifications of each member of the proposed research team who will make substantive contributions to the project. Material on qualifications of the research team included in an appendix will not be considered.
 
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) 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. 
 
F. 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 (17 single-bound copies) are due not later than 4:30 p.m. on 12/12/2019.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, all copies of 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. Proposers may choose any carrier or delivery service for their proposals. However, proposers assume the risk of proposal rejection if the carrier or delivery service does not deliver all the required documents by the deadline.

Delivery Address:

PROPOSAL-NCHRP
ATTN: Christopher J. Hedges
Director, Cooperative Research Programs
Transportation Research Board
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001


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 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.


IMPORTANT NOTICE

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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