The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(138) [RFP]

Collective and Individual Actions for State Departments of Transportation Envisioning and Realizing the Next Era of America’s Transportation Infrastructure – Phase I
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

Posted Date: 5/4/2021

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
(This project is anticipated to be the first phase of a multi-phase program for which total funding of $1 million has been allocated.)
Contract Time: 12 months
(includes time for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final documents)
Authorization to Begin Work: 8/15/2021 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Ann M. Hartell
   Phone: 202.334.2369
   Email: ahartell@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 6/21/2021
Fiscal Year: 2021

Creation of the Interstate Highway System, like development of the first intercontinental railroad a century earlier, was transformational, ushering in a new era of transportation, economic development, and social change in the nation’s history. President Eisenhower’s signing of the Interstate Highways and Defense Act in 1956 and the driving of the "Last Spike" at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869 were symbolic moments—comparable to landing a person on the Moon—in establishment of bold vision and the infrastructure backbone that supported and shaped our economy and communities for decades. Development and management of the Interstate System and its expanded realization in the National Highway System have also shaped the cultures and missions of state departments of transportation (DOTs) and these agencies’ partners at local and national levels of government.
The aim of the Interstate System was focused and succinctly stated: "…to connect principal metropolitan areas, cities, and industrial centers, serve national defense, and connect with Canada and Mexico," and this statement became foundational to the culture and missions of the state DOTs. These agencies have evolved in response to changes in the nature of the work, from planning to construction to operation and maintenance of increasingly mature networks. In realizing the vision, the DOTs have delivered unprecedented mobility and access and thereby contributed to the nation’s prosperity, albeit not without controversies and impact to communities and neighborhoods, the natural environment, land use, social equity, and more.
While notable gaps remain and funding for maintenance and updating are a perpetual challenge, observers suggest the goals and objectives of the Interstate era have largely been achieved. Today, social, economic, and technology trends place the nation at the cusp of a new era for transportation, one engaging new technologies, interactions among transportation modes, interdependence of private and public interests, and a broadening range of partners and stakeholders in our transportation system’s performance. State DOTs will be called upon to help define and realize a vision of this next era and how that vision may be realized in diverse settings.
State DOTs and the public face challenging questions and choices. For example, how can air pollution and reliance on fossil fuels be drastically reduced? How can the transportation system provide equitable and safe access to health care, jobs, high quality and affordable housing, education, and stable neighborhoods for all segments of our communities? How will new technologies and new transportation services support system performance improvements? How can the condition and performance of our transportation system be maintained to ensure its continued support of the nation’s prosperity, high living standards, and community values and priorities? (See Special Note A.)
While each state DOT must address such questions, individual agencies also must harmonize perspectives and strategies with others: our transportation networks do not end at political borders, even when facilities are located entirely within a single jurisdiction. Research is needed to explore the factors and trends likely to characterize the next era of transportation; articulate the vision, goals, and objectives that can inform and guide agency management as we enter this next era; and develop a compelling narrative to embolden stakeholders’ and state DOTs’ continuing contribution to the nation’s prosperity and wellbeing. (See Special Note B.)


The objectives of this project are to explore and articulate what state DOTs can do collectively and individually to establish and realize a transformative vision of the next era of America’s transportation infrastructure, a vision and infrastructure to support the nation’s continued prosperity and wellbeing, by:
  • Describing through scenarios or other means the social, technological, and economic trends and evolution of community values, problems, and priorities now and in coming years that are likely to influence the role of transportation in local, regional, and national prosperity and wellbeing;
  • Articulating a set of evocative state DOT ambitions and goals that, if pursued, would respond to evolutionary trends and shape an agency’s culture and mission to maintain and enhance transportation’s contribution to prosperity and wellbeing;
  • Presenting a visionary narrative and supporting insights, projections, and aspirational ideas to inform state DOT leadership; and
  • Providing resources and tools that state DOT leaders can use to tailor their own efforts to shape their agency’s culture and mission and craft meaningful and motivating targets, achievements, objectives, and narratives or vision statements to communicate with stakeholders.
The primary audience for products of this work is the executive leadership of state DOTs, but leadership of other public agencies, users and other stakeholders in the systems for which state DOTs are responsible, and the general public are likely to have an interest as well. The time horizon of vision statements or narratives must be suited to the rates of change of the factors under consideration and is likely to extend decades, but the research products will ideally include suggestions of specific ambitions, targets, or objectives that may be adapted to guide development, jointly or individually, of state DOT mission and culture within 10 years. (See Special Note C.)

The Phase I activities addressed by this request should produce at least (1) a comprehensive analysis of available research on emerging social, technological, and economic trends and evolution of community values and priorities influencing transportation’s contribution to prosperity and wellbeing and of state DOTs as mediators of that role, (2) one or more workshops or peer exchanges of thought leaders and state DOT leaders to discuss the project’s objectives and anticipated products, (3) a well-developed concept of the final products of this project if subsequent phases are undertaken, and (4) a preliminary plan for achieving the project objectives. This request for proposals is for Phase I only.


Proposers are asked to describe a detailed research plan to accomplish the project objectives. 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. NCHRP envisions that this work will require a dynamic leadership and an expeditious approach. Proposers must present their current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach.

The Phase I research should include at least the following deliverable products and milestones:

1.  Phase I Amplified Work Plan (Special Note E) and a Phase I kickoff web meeting with NCHRP staff and project panel members;
2.  A white paper synthesizing relevant literature and recent initiatives that may inform this research;
3.  One or more workshops or peer exchanges bringing together a representative selection of state DOT chief executive officers and public- and private-sector thought leaders, experts, and provocateurs to consider relevant trends; challenge conventional thinking about transportation system configuration, service delivery, and management; and articulate visions of the roles of state transportation agencies in developing and managing future systems (Special Note A);
4.  A report outlining a coherent set of scenarios representing specified state transportation agency roles and a suite of enabling actions that state DOTS can take within a specified time span to be responsive to trends in delivering future prosperity and wellbeing that may be used to pursue the research objectives;
5.  Communication materials suitable for a variety of audiences that describe the findings; and
6.  A work plan including task statements and schedules for building on the Phase I work to achieve the research objectives and presenting a well-developed concept of the final products of this research if subsequent phases are undertaken.

Notes: NCHRP envisions that Phase I workshop(s) may involve 12 to 16 DOT executives and other invited participants; anticipated travel expenses shall be paid by the contractor except for NCHRP or FHWA staff or NCHRP project panel members. For budgeting purposes, proposers may assume that (1) all deliverables shall be submitted in electronic form only, and (2) deliverables shall be submitted in draft for NCHRP review and then revised as appropriate to produce final versions. 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 E. Proposers should specify in their proposals their expectations regarding the schedule of review periods and consultations with the NCHRP project panel and when key decisions must be made regarding progress from one project task to the next. Unless otherwise agreed by NCHRP and the contractor, all such consultations shall be conducted via email and telecommunications. Proposers should plan that NCHRP will require 1 month to review and provide comments on the draft work plan report.


A.  An essential element of this research will be engagement of participants with knowledge, experience, and insights regarding the role of transportation and transportation agencies in many aspects of the social, economic, and environmental wellbeing, equity, and prosperity of communities at local, regional, national, and multinational levels (for example, public health, land use, energy and telecommunications supply, ecosystem services, logistics and supply-chain management, sociology, equipment manufacturing, and other relevant areas of knowledge). Proposers should give particular attention in their research plans to how effective multidisciplinary engagement will be achieved in this project. Proposers also should present their current thinking regarding how public health restrictions on travel and in-person meeting may influence the number and formats of workshops or peer exchanges to be conducted in Phase I and subsequent stages of the research.

B.  NCHRP envisions the products of this research will inform agency leadership and provide resources that may be used by agency leadership to communicate with the various transportation system stakeholders about such matters, and that any suggestions of specific targets, achievements, or objectives that may guide development of a state transportation agency’s culture and mission may be useful as models to be tailored to local arrangements. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have interest in the subject matter of this research; the NCHRP project oversight panel will include AASHTO and FHWA liaison representatives, and others from these organizations may participate during the research, but the research is not intended to produce recommendations for government policy, funding levels, or institutional arrangements. In particular, products of this research may be used by AASHTO members to identify aspirational goals for themselves, but such goal-setting is outside of the scope of Phase I and subsequent stages of the research.

C.  Proposers should be aware of the NCHRP Report 750 Foresight Series reports, initiated in 2008 and concluded in 2020. These reports—analyzing important trends related to freight, climate change, sustainability, fuel and energy sources, maintenance and preservation, and changing demographics—are an informational and methodological resource for transportation decision-makers and practitioners interested in the future of the transportation systems they oversee. In addition to the reports themselves, other resources have been developed to facilitate communication and discussion of these research results. See  http://www.trb.org/NCHRP/NCHRPForesightSeries.aspx?srcaud=NCHRP.

D.  The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs were modified in November 2020 to include maximum file size and page limits for all CRP proposals. 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.

E.  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.

F.  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.

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 11 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/jMULqVrv0jNgo4j3PwVi Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 6/21/2021.

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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