The Transportation Research Board in 2019 published two documents presenting wide-ranging perspectives on matters of importance to the future of the nation’s transportation system and its capabilities to support the nation's continued prosperity. (See Special Note A.) The first of these documents, Renewing the National Commitment to the Interstate Highway System: A Foundation for the Future (CIHS), the product of a Congressionally mandated study, presented a series of recommendations for government actions needed “to upgrade and restore the Interstate Highway System to fulfill its role as a crucial national asset, serving the needs of people, cities and towns, businesses, and the military while remaining the safest highway network in the country.” (CIHS, p. viii; see Special Note A.) The second document, Critical Issues in Transportation 2019 (CIT2019), was prepared by the TRB Executive Committee to frame high-level questions that can be addressed during the next 5 to 10 years through research, policy analysis, and debate to help society prepare for potentially unprecedented changes likely to affect the transportation system’s service to individuals and society. (CIT2019, p. 2)
Together the two documents comprise a thought-provoking but complex basis for the leadership of state transportation agencies to gain insight into the challenges their agencies will face in coming decades and to formulate strategies for meeting these challenges. These strategies will likely be influenced by the specific geographic, demographic, economic, social, and political character of each state and multi-state regions but will certainly have in common their intent to ensure that the transportation system for which the state transportation agency is responsible continues to support the prosperity and wellbeing of the states’ citizenry. Formulations of strategy will draw on the wealth of information that has been produced through experience and previous research, but new questions inevitably will call for new research and development efforts, particularly regarding technologies employed in our transportation systems and the relationships of these systems to our communities. CIHS and CIT2019 provide a context for identifying research needed to advance the state of practice in stewardship of our investment in our transportation systems, developing practical, effective tools and procedures state transportation agencies can use in planning and management decision making in coming decades.
The objective of NCHRP Project 20-126 overall is to conduct research to assist state transportation agencies and others to understand and address the issues raised by CIHS and CIT2019 as they relate to a state transportation agency. (See Special Note A.) As a first phase of this research, NCHRP 20-126(01) will engage a research contractor to prepare documents or other materials drawing on CIHS and CIT2019 to present:
1. A unified framework for characterizing the interests of state transportation agencies represented by the issues and recommendations contained in CIHS and CIT 2019;
2. A descriptive listing of substantial threats to transportation system performance and agency effectiveness that state transportation agencies are likely to face in the next 10 to 20 years, as implied in CIHS and CIT2019 and drawing on the contractor’s knowledge;
3. A descriptive listing of opportunities for advancing transportation system performance and professional practice in system development and management that state transportation agencies could realize within the next 10 to 20 years, as implied in CIHS and CIT2019 and drawing on the contractor’s knowledge;
4. A critical review of TRB and other literature to determine whether current research and development efforts are adequately addressing the issues, threats, and opportunities identified in CIHS, CIT2019; whether new or redirected efforts may be warranted at a national level; and
5. An analytical procedure, presented in a useable form (for example, a guidebook or workbook tool) that state transportation agencies and others may use individually or in self-organized groups (for example, multi-state corridor coalitions) to assess the relative significance of threats and opportunities identified here and to establish their own priorities for agency programmatic initiatives.
In addition, the contractor will be responsible for facilitating a 2-day workshop of the NCHRP project panel and invited participants to apply the analytical procedure to identify high-priority research needs and develop a selection of research problem statements for additional NCHRP research to advance the objectives of the NCHRP Project 20-126 project series.
Proposers are asked to describe a detailed research plan to accomplish the project objective. 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 4 weeks of the contract’s effective date, to discuss the Amplified Work Plan, important technical issues and research milestones, and review procedures for research products.
Note: For budgeting purposes, proposers may assume that NCHRP will make arrangements for all web conferences. Proposers should note that the Amplified Work Plan must be delivered to NCHRP within 15 days of the contract’s effective date; see Special Note C.
2. Interim Report 1 (IR1), delivered in electronic form only, within 6 months of the contract’s effective date presenting (a) a unified framework for characterizing the interests of state transportation agencies represented by the issues and recommendations presented in CIHS and CIT2019; (b) a critical review of TRB and other literature on research and development activities intended to address the issues, threats, and opportunities identified in CIHS, CIT2019, and this project; (c) a descriptive listing of substantial threats to transportation system performance and agency effectiveness that state transportation agencies are likely to face in the next 10 to 20 years; and (d) a descriptive listing of opportunities for advancing transportation system performance and professional practice in system development and management that state transportation agencies could realize within the next 10 to 20 years.
Note: To demonstrate their awareness of the challenges to be faced in this research, proposers should succinctly present their current thinking on the framework and descriptive listings of threats and opportunities. 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 10 months of the contract’s effective date presenting (a) an analytical procedure that state transportation agencies and others may use individually or in self-organized groups (for example, multi-state corridor coalitions) to assess the relative significance of threats and opportunities identified here and to establish priorities for agency action; and (b) a plan for a 2-day workshop of the NCHRP project panel and invited participants to apply the analytical procedure to identify high-priority research needs and develop a selection of research problem statements for additional NCHRP research to achieve the project’s objectives.
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 and then to make revisions as appropriate to respond to panel comments. NCHRP approval shall be required before work proceeds.
4. Workshop to be held at TRB facilities and Interim Report 3 (IR3), within 14 months of the contract’s effective date, documenting the workshop discussions, high-priority research needs, and research problem statements developed.
Note: NCHRP envisions the workshop may engage as many as 10 participants in addition to the project panel members and staff; the research contractor shall be responsible for reimbursing travel costs of these invited participants. NCHRP will reimburse travel costs for NCHRP project panel members and staff. For budgeting purposes, proposers should assume the workshop will be held at the Beckman Center in Irvine, CA. Proposers are cautioned that research problem statements developed in this project may not become NCHRP projects and, if they are developed as NCHRP research projects, may be procured through open competition. Should problem statements developed as part of this research become NCHRP projects the contractor(s) for this project are legible and/or may be invited to submit a proposal.
Note: NCHRP will require at least 2 weeks for review of IR3. Proposers should plan to meet via web conference with the NCHRP project panel after the review period to discuss the content of IR3 and agree on strategy for the project’s completion.
5. Draft final documents comprising (a) a summary document describing the research conducted in NCHRP 20-126(01), including the problem statements for additional research identified in the workshop; (b) the analytical procedure that state transportation agencies and others may use individually or in self-organized groups to assess the relative significance of threats and opportunities identified here and to establish their own priorities for agency programmatic initiatives; (c) a plan for subsequent research by NCHRP or others to advance the NCHRP 20-126 project’s overall objectives; and (d) a PowerPoint presentation usable by NCHRP or others to describe the research and its results.
Note: NCHRP intends that the products of this research should be useful to state transportation agencies and other agencies responsible for development and management of the nation’s transportation system and does not wish to constrain unnecessarily the format for presenting guidance. NCHRP anticipates that dissemination activities identified in the draft final documents, 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 final documents.
6. Revised final documents, reflecting research team response to NCHRP panel comments on the draft documents.
Note: NCHRP will require a “response to comments” memorandum documenting NCHRP comments on draft documents and contractor responses as reflected in the revised guidebook and other documents.
Proposers should plan that NCHRP will require 20 printed copies each of the revised final documents. Three months of the 18-month total shall be required at conclusion of the project for NCHRP review and contractor revision of the draft final deliverables.
A. The two source documents are available for download at from the following web links:
The broad scope of these two source documents notwithstanding, the NCHRP project panel intends that researchers for this project should exclude matters related to revenue, finance, and administrative arrangements affecting transportation systems development and operations.
The project panel suggests that proposers may find the following recent NCHRP publications helpful:
B. 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.
C. Contractors for NCHRP are required to comply with the Procedural Manual for Contractors Conducting Research in the Transportation Research Board's Cooperative Research Programs (updated July 2019, http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/CRPProceduralManual.pdf). In particular, an Amplified Work Plan must be delivered to NCHRP within 15 calendar days after beginning date of contract, and periodic progress reports are required regardless of the interim research products specified in this request for proposals.
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. 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 transportation agencies 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.