The National Academies


Transportation Emergency Response Application (TERA): Migration Options Beyond 2020

Posted Date: 11/7/2022

  Project Data
Funds: $75,000
(TCRP share is $25,000. Additional funding approved from ACRP ($50,000))
Contract Time: 10 months
(Includes 2 months for TCRP review and approval of the interim report and 3 months for TCRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/15/2023 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Stephan A. Parker
   Phone: 202-334-2554
   Email: saparker@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 1/31/2023
Fiscal Year: 2020



The Transportation Emergency Response Application (TERA) leveraged the utility of existing, robust, scenario-based, emergency preparedness training and exercise software: the Emergency Management Staff Trainer (EMST, found at https://www.ecsorl.com/emst-end-of-life/). The EMST platform had more than $10 million in National Guard Bureau investment, upon which the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP), Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), and National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) built the TERA application at a combined cost of slightly over $2.5 million over 10 years. 

The goal of TERA has been to enable more effective learning and practice of Emergency Operations Center (EOC) response for personnel using EMST loaded with specialized transportation scenarios. These scenarios allow for transportation-specific roles, interactions, and emergency tasks to be easily simulated by transportation emergency management personnel, who may be assigned with various degrees of training and experience. TERA includes 21 different transportation emergency scenarios and over 1,300 simulated emergency management interactions for use by airports, state departments of transportation (DOTs), and transit EOCs and their response partners. A key feature of TERA is its ability to allow a mix of onsite, socially distanced, and quarantined staff to participate collaboratively in tabletop exercises and training in real time. Utility is internal and external to an agency, allowing for others to easily play within the agency-organized exercise environment. Use of TERA reduces the cost of developing and hosting traditional, in-person, tabletop exercises.

TERA was built on the state of the practice technology prevalent at the time, Adobe Flash. Since Adobe no longer supports Flash Player after December 31, 2020 and blocked Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021, the EMST platform is no longer operable. In order to preserve and sustain the TERA content, the artifacts, scenario outlines, and narratives have been published as supplemental resources to Command-Level Decision Making for Transportation Emergency Managers. There is continued interest, however, in making the scenarios playable as group role-playing exercises; using automated feedback and simulated roles for individual training; and making the content readily usable for tabletop exercises. Research is needed to develop options for repurposing and revitalizing the content and migration to a usable platform. It is important to answer such questions as:

  • Who is the designated audience and what are the markets for TERA?
  • What portions of TERA have more (or less) value to carry forward (e.g., those that can’t be found in Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP), Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), or other applications)? 
  • What platforms are available for TERA migration?
  • Which open source, low cost, and no cost options are available? What are the considerations for potentially pursuing such options?
  • What is the likely longevity of available platforms?
  • What level of effort is necessary for the TERA scenario content to be migrated to available platforms? 
  • What level of effort would be required to migrate TERA functionality beyond scenario content (e.g., authoring/editing scenarios; automated feedback; simulated roles) to each of the available platforms?
  • Is it practicable for TERA to have a government- or trade-association-funded “free” platform separate from commercial applications?


The objective of this project is to identify migration/repurpose options for the core features, training capabilities, scenarios, and content of TERA to one or more modern, sustainable platforms. The research should inform prioritization of the scenario learning objectives, scripts, injects, and artifacts created under ACRP, TCRP, and NCHRP that have the most value as resources for tabletop exercises.


Proposers are asked to develop and present a detailed research approach for accomplishing the project objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task. Proposers are expected to present a research plan that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals shall: (1) present the proposer’s current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach for meeting the research objective; (2) identify data and data sources that may be used to undertake this research; and (3) propose format(s) of the final research product(s). 

Potential tasks include but are not limited to:

  1. A market survey to gauge the level of interest in the TERA content (and functionality beyond content) by transportation agencies and their preferred way of accessing that content (e.g., through a live trainer on staff, through consultant or government-provided support, through slide decks, through self-service on an existing simulation or gaming software platform);
  2. A market survey of emergency management simulation and training applications: information on available platforms, level of interest in ingesting content (including options such as the Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program (I-STEP), Exercise Information System (EXIS), Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP), Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), and the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Training Program and associated NIMS training courses on the Incident Command System (ICS)); and simple platforms that might be playable on mobile applications or phones, broken into smaller segments, or for asynchronous use;
  3. A feasibility analysis, including governance and responsibility for migration and maintenance. Document the reasons for the decision by the National Guard Bureau to discontinue use of EMST;
  4. An interim report that informs the panel on a key decision: is migrating TERA to an alternate platform needed, feasible, and cost-beneficial;
  5. A recommended approach for promotion of TERA content to interested parties;
  6. A recommended budget and draft scope for a project to develop a guide for interested parties to adapt TERA content; and
  7. A recommended budget and draft specifications for a request for proposals (RFP) for migrating TERA if the panel decides migrating TERA is worthwhile.


The final deliverables will include the following:

  • A report with the following:
    • Documentation of the research activities;
    • Key findings; and
    • Other topics identified during the research.
  • A technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note I).

Note: The research plan may include additional deliverables as well as additional panel meetings via teleconferences. 

Note: The research plan shall include a schedule for completion of the research that includes 2 months for panel review of the interim report, and 3 months for panel review and for contractor revision of the final research product(s). 


A. 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. 

B. 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 60 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.

C. 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. 

D. 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/6506. Proposers may not contact panel members directly; this roster is provided solely for the purpose of avoiding potential conflicts of interest. 

E. 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.

F. Proposals are evaluated by the TCRP 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.

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 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.

H. 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.

I. 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.

J. 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.

K. 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

L. Qualifications of the research team are anticipated to benefit from the inclusion of expertise in the transportation industry.

M. Useful resources for this project include:

  1. TCRP A-36 final report published as TCRP Web-Only Document 75 / NCHRP Web-Only Document 321 / ACRP Web-Only Document 52: Command-Level Decision Making for Transportation Emergency Managers (2022) https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/26587/command-level-decision-making-for-transportation-emergency-managers
  2. Supplemental to the 2022 document are artifacts and scenario outlines and narratives 
  3. ACRP Research Report 187: Transportation Emergency Response Application (TERA) Support Materials for Airport EOC Exercises (2018) https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/25251/transportation-emergency-response-application-tera-support-materials-for-airport-eoc-exercises
  4. TCRP Web-Only Document 60 \ NCHRP Web-Only Document 200: Command-Level Decision Making for Transit Emergency Managers (2013) https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/22472/command-level-decision-making-for-transit-emergency-managers
  5. Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program (I-STEP) https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/intermodal-security-training-and-exercise-program
  6. Exercise Information System (EXIS) https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/exercise-information-system
  7. Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) https://www.dhs.gov/homeland-security-information-network-hsin
  8. Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) https://www.fema.gov/emergency-managers/national-preparedness/exercises/hseep
  9. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Training and Exercises https://www.cisa.gov/safecom/training-and-exercises
  10. National Incident Management System (NIMS) Training Program and associated NIMS Training Courses on the Incident Command System (ICS) https://www.fema.gov/emergency-managers/nims/implementation-training


Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/iOqYkkZqMIoXtrVmKLvh 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 1/31/2023.

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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