The National Academies

NCHRP 15-61A [RFP]

Hydrologic and Hydraulic Design Guide to Incorporate Climate Science in Transportation Infrastructure

Posted Date: 1/6/2023

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 24 months
(includes 1 month for NCHRP review and approval of the interim report and 3 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 6/1/2023 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Roberto Barcena
   Phone: 202/334-2544
   Email: rbarcena@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 2/24/2023
Fiscal Year: 2022


State departments of transportation (DOTs) are being asked to account for climate change in hydrologic and hydraulic (H&H) design practices. Current H&H design procedures stipulate the use of historical data assumed to represent a stationary process. Climate change introduces non-stationary risks such as rise in sea level, rise in temperature, and changes in the timing and distribution of precipitation, snowpack, and snowmelt. Failure to account for such non-stationary risks may compromise the operational characteristics of existing and future transportation infrastructure.

NCHRP Project 15-61, "Applying Climate Change Information to Hydrologic and Hydraulic Design of Transportation Infrastructure," delivered a document titled "Applying Climate Change Information to Hydrologic and Coastal Design of Transportation Infrastructure: Design Practices."

Additionally, NCHRP Project 20-44(23) conducted pilot tests with state DOTs to determine the effectiveness and ease of implementation of the guidelines developed under NCHRP Project 15-61.

Research is needed to incorporate additional climate science information into inland and coastal H&H design of transportation infrastructure.


The objective of this research is to develop a guide for state DOTs and practitioners to use when applying climate science information to inland and coastal H&H design of transportation infrastructure. The guide must be based on defensible climate science and methods, and be focused on engineering practices.

The accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following 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. 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.

PHASE I — Planning

Task 1. Conduct a critical review of:


·   The reports prepared under NCHRP Project 15-61 with an emphasis on the design practices (see Special Note A);


·   The NCHRP Project 20-44(23) final report with an emphasis on “themes,” “complexity," and “popularity ratings" in Chapter 4 and the study team’s discussions in Chapter 5 (see Special Note B); and


·   The NCHRP Project 20-44(23) “Panelists’ Guidance List” with feedback on the NCHRP Project 20-44(23) DOT proposed revisions (see Special Note B).

Research, evaluate, and document other current appropriate climate risk assessment and design practices from federal agencies that may contribute to the accomplishment of the research objective (e.g., National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Highway Administration).

The activities conducted during Task 1 shall focus on updating the existing design practices developed under NCHRP Project 15-61, "Applying Climate Change Information to Hydrologic and Hydraulic Design of Transportation Infrastructure."

Note: Proposers must plan for one virtual meeting with the NCHRP panel at approximately 50% completion of Task 1 to report on the evaluations and information collected so far.

Task 2. Synthesize the information gathered in Task 1. Develop an outline for the guide to accomplish the research objective, including the rationale (e.g., need, impact, required resources) used in the selection of the topics for the outline. Additionally, provide a timeline and cost estimate for the development of the outline to efficiently accomplish the research objective.

Proposers must leverage their knowledge in climate science, inland and coastal hydrology, and hydraulic design engineering, and draw from their experience to build upon the ideas and analyses presented in the available resources above and use them in the development of the outline.

Note on modeling: Because this project addresses the application of climate science for transportation infrastructure, uses climate science tools, and relies on climate model outputs as a core activity of the project, it will be important to convey that these tools and models are being accepted as state-of-the-science products that convey the confidence of the climate science community. Selection of the downscaled global climate model (GCM) and earth system model (ESM) outputs should be made with a well-documented set of objectives explicitly communicated to the panel as part of the contractor’s early reporting, and attention should be given to statistical, dynamic, and hybrid downscaling approaches. The panel is aware that model outputs from the Coupled Models Intercomparison Project, Phase 6 (CMIP-6) have a wider range of values for some variables than those variables in earlier CMIP phases. The panel encourages the proposer to document their evaluation of available downscaled outputs with that wider range in mind and report how the selection of the subset of model outputs was carried out and clearly document the applicability and limitations to various transportation infrastructure assets which require different spatial and temporal resolutions. The NCHRP panel expects that it may have comments on the proposer’s evaluation of available outputs and may engage in discussion with the contractor over evaluation objectives and outcomes.

Note: Plan for one virtual meeting with the NCHRP panel to report on the work performed during Task 2.

Task 3. Prepare Interim Report No. 1 that documents the results of Tasks 1 and 2 and addresses the comments provided by the NCHRP panel. Interim Report No. 1 shall also propose a practical framework for incorporating new analyses and methodologies as these become available to address the dynamic nature of the discipline and provide an updated detailed plan for Phases II and III.

Note: Following a 1-month review of Interim Report No. 1 by the NCHRP, the research team will meet with the NCHRP project panel to discuss the interim report. Work on Phases II and III of the project will not begin until authorized by the NCHRP. Phase I shall be limited to $60,000.

PHASE II — Guide Development

Task 4. Develop the guide according to the approved Interim Report No. 1.

Note: The proposer must plan for at least 3 virtual meetings with the panel to report on the progress of the revisions (e.g., 15%, 40%, and 70% of the development of the revisions). These meetings will not require specific deliverables; however, the proposer is expected to show in detail the approach and progress on the development of the revisions, and to respond to comments submitted by the panel.

Task 5. Prepare a draft conduct of research report that at least includes the following: (1) an annotated outline of the report, (2) the draft guide, and (3) the draft framework to incorporate new analyses and methodologies into the guide.

Note: Following a 1-month review of the draft report by the NCHRP panel, the research team will meet virtually with the NCHRP panel to discuss the draft report. Phase II shall be limited to $290,000. Work on Phase III of the project will not begin until authorized by the NCHRP.

PHASE III — Final Deliverables

Task 6. Present the guide to the AASHTO Technical Committee on Hydrology and Hydraulics for comments and propose revisions to the NCHRP. Revise the guide considering the NCHRP’s review comments and prepare the final deliverables listed in Task 7 no later than 3 months after approval of Phase III.

Task 7. Prepare final deliverables including (1) a conduct of research report documenting the entire research effort and lessons learned, (2) the guide, and (3) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note M).

Note: Phase III shall be limited to $50,000.


A. Proposers are encouraged to review the unedited copies of the agency reports prepared under NCHRP Project 15-61, "Applying Climate Change Information to Hydrologic and Hydraulic Design of Transportation Infrastructure."  These reports are copyrighted material and intended for the sole use of proposers to respond to this RFP and submit a proposal. Any unauthorized use, disclosure, copying, alteration, dissemination, or distribution is strictly prohibited. The reports are available at:



B. Contact Roberto Barcena, Senior Program Officer, at rbarcena@nas.edu to receive unedited copies of the materials. These reports are copyrighted material and intended for the sole use of proposers to respond to this RFP and submit a proposal. Any unauthorized use, disclosure, copying, alteration, dissemination, or distribution is strictly prohibited.

C. The contract for NCHRP Project 15-61A will be awarded for a fixed price of $400,000; 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 that is tied to the detailed budget and schedule.

D. For budgeting purposes, proposers should plan for one in-person meeting in Washington, DC. Costs for the in-person meeting venue and travel costs for NCHRP panel members to attend the meeting will be paid separately by NCHRP.

E. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs were revised in May 2022. Please take note of the new and revised text which is highlighted in yellow.

F. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8 ½” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 45 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected. For other requirements, refer to chapter V of the instructions.

G. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs have been modified to include a revised policy and instructions for disclosing Investigator Conflict of Interest. For more information, refer to chapter IV of the instructions. A detailed definition and examples can be found in the CRP Conflict of Interest Policy for Contractors. The proposer recommended by the project panel will be required to submit an Investigator Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Form as a prerequisite for contract negotiations.

H. Proposals will be rejected if any of the proposed research team members work for organizations represented on the project panel. The panel roster for this project can be found at https://www.mytrb.org/OnlineDirectory/Committee/Details/4547. Proposers may not contact panel members directly; this roster is provided solely for the purpose of avoiding potential conflicts of interest.

I. Proprietary Products - If any proprietary products are to be used or tested in the project, please refer to Item 6 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals.

J. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively knowledgeable in the problem area. The project panel will recommend their first choice proposal 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. A recommendation by the project panel is not a guarantee of a contract. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS - the contracting authority for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) will conduct an internal due diligence review and risk assessment of the panel’s recommended proposal before contract negotiations continue.

Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.

K. 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 Academy of Sciences. 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 Academy of Sciences. 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.

L. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals. 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.

M. The required technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should (a) provide recommendations on how to best put the research findings/products into practice; (b) identify possible institutions that might take leadership in applying the research findings/products; (c) identify issues affecting potential implementation of the findings/products and recommend possible actions to address these issues; and (d) recommend methods of identifying and measuring the impacts associated with implementation of the findings/products. Implementation of these recommendations is not part of the research project and, if warranted, details of these actions will be developed and implemented in future efforts.

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

N. If the team proposes a Principal Investigator who is not an employee of the Prime Contractor, or if the Prime Contractor is proposed to conduct less than 50% of the total effort (by time or budget), then section five of the proposal should include: (1) a justification of why this approach is appropriate, and (2) a description of how the Prime Contractor will ensure adequate communication and coordination with their Subcontractors throughout the project.

O. All budget information should be suitable for printing on 8½″ x 11″ paper. If a budget page cannot fit on a single 8½″ x 11″ page, it should be split over multiple pages. Proposers must use the Excel templates provided in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs.

Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/Ir2LzwPojZQCqqtkITAC 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 2/24/2023.

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 fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://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". 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.

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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