The National Academies

NCHRP 03-148 [RFP]

Preparing for Virtual Operation of Traffic Management Systems

Posted Date: 12/22/2022

  Project Data
Funds: $600,000
Contract Time: 36 months
(includes 1 month for NCHRP review and approval of each interim report and 3 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 7/1/2023 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Dr. Zuxuan Deng
   Phone: 2023342305
   Email: zdeng@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 2/21/2023
Fiscal Year: 2023


The ability to virtually manage and operate traffic management systems (TMSs) is no longer a luxury; it needs to be a capability of the system and core capacity of an agency’s operations program. It has become a necessity for agencies to work toward developing and sustaining these capabilities and having the resources necessary to remotely manage and operate their own or another agency’s TMS. Agencies continue to explore what organizational policies, procedures, capacity, resources, and capabilities may be needed to virtually manage and operate their TMSs to support day-to-day traffic management, planned (e.g., concerts, festivals) and unplanned (e.g., during COVID-19 pandemic, weather emergency) special events.

Agencies are looking for resources to explore what planning, development, and training may be needed to successfully position or prepare TMSs with the capabilities and resources needed to allow agencies to transition the operation of a TMS involving highly technical traffic management centers to a virtual operating environment with minimal service disruptions. 

There is a need to develop technical resources to assist agencies in planning, developing, or improving their TMSs to enable virtual operation, and to assist agencies in preparing for, training, testing, and transitioning to remote or virtual TMS operation. 


The objectives of this research are to develop two technical reports: Report No. 1, Assessing and Improving TMSs to Enable Virtual Operation, to assist agencies with planning, developing, or improving their TMSs to enable virtual operation, and Report No. 2, Operation and Implementation of TMSs Virtually, to assist agencies to prepare, plan, design, build, and operate their TMS virtually.

At a minimum, the research team shall:

  • Assess the capacity of TMSs that can be managed virtually to support day-to-day traffic management, and planned and unplanned special events;
  • Identify issues or improvements that can be considered for TMSs planning or developing the next generation of TMSs;
  • Assess agency functions and capacities to manage and operate TMSs virtually; and
  • Explore, plan, prepare, train, test, and verify ways to operate TMSs virtually.

Accomplishment of the project objectives will require completion of the following tasks, at a minimum.




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 objectives. 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 objectives. 



Task 1a. Conduct a comprehensive review of the literature including FHWA-HOP-14-016: Guidelines for Virtual Transportation Management Center Development and other relevant materials. Document gaps and issues identified through the literature review.

Task 1b. Develop a list of agencies with virtual TMS operations for interview/survey, based on the result of an initial survey on state/county/city agencies and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) operating TMSs. Prepare interview/survey questions for NCHRP’s review and approval. Consider surveying state agencies first to identify appropriate counties, cities, and MPOs. Survey questions should be detailed enough to draw out efficient practices to advance the virtual operation of TMSs as well as include lessons learned during the COVID pandemic.  

Task 1c. Conduct a survey/interview on how these agencies currently design their TMSs to enable and deploy complete virtual operations with the panel’s approval. 

Task 2. Prepare draft annotated outlines for Report No. 1 and Report No. 2. The annotated outlines will serve as the basis for the development of the two technical reports in Phase II. Each annotated outline is intended to provide the foundation, context, and framework for the subject matter in each technical report. Each outline will include key technical topics and associated issues, major concepts, current trends, current practices, examples highlighting lessons learned, and checklists of issues to consider. The initial annotated outline for each report will be submitted prior to the NCHRP panel meeting as specified in Task 3.

Report No. 1 will compile and review available resources; offer insights; and synthesize current practices for agencies to consider in their planning, design, and development to improve their TMSs to enable virtual operations. It will assess and identify key issues for agencies to consider capabilities, needs, requirements, technologies, and other issues to integrate the virtual or remote operation of a TMS into the planning or design of a new or improved legacy system. This information will support agencies in assessing the current capabilities of legacy TMSs, identifying possible improvements needed to enable or meet the needs of agencies to operate virtually, and assessing the capabilities and requirements when planning or designing the next generation of their TMS.

Report No. 2 will explore the range of issues agencies may consider for the remote operations of their TMSs to support establishing, using, and demonstrating the ability to virtually manage and operate their TMSs, including:

  • Authority, policies, procedures, and guidelines; 
  • Capability (e.g., human resource issues, position descriptions, security clearances); 
  • Capacity (e.g., IT, security, access to agencies operating system and files);
  • Resources (e.g., access to resources normally available and used in the operations center, laptops for remote access, Internet access, software);
  • The range of initiatives (planning, projects); 
  • Implementation plan for events; 
  • Testing plan (e.g., acceptance testing, scenario training); 
  • Reporting; and 
  • Training.

Task 3. Organize a virtual panel meeting to review and obtain feedback on the two draft annotated outlines developed in Task 2. Revise the draft annotated outlines based on written and oral feedback from the NCHRP panel meeting. Submit revised versions of each annotated outline for review and approval, prior to beginning the development of each of these technical reports in Task 5.

Task 4. Prepare Interim Report No. 1 documenting the results of Tasks 1 through 3 and provide an updated plan for the remainder of the research no later than 12 months after contract award. The updated plan must describe the methodology and rationale for the work proposed for Phases II. 


Note: Following a 1-month review of Interim Report No. 1 by the NCHRP, the research team will be required to meet virtually with the NCHRP project panel to discuss the interim report. Work on Phases II of the project will not begin until authorized by the NCHRP. Phase I budget shall not exceed $250,000.



Task 5. Develop Reports No. 1 and No. 2 according to the approved Interim Report No. 1.

Task 6. Develop two PowerPoint presentations (approximately 30 minutes each in length) for the two technical reports developed in Task 5 based on approved outlines. The presentation slides shall specify the research purpose, objectives, key issues that were addressed, research products developed, and the potential benefit or value of those products.

Task 7. Submit draft reports and draft PowerPoint presentations for NCHRP’s review.

Task 8a. Prepare for workshop(s) with at least 10 representatives from state and local agencies with a variety of geographic region and size to review and collect feedback on the draft reports and presentations. Submit workshop materials and proposed attendee list for the NCHRP panel’s review and approval.

Task 8b. Conduct one or more workshop as approved in Task 8a. Revise the draft reports, presentations and other workshop materials taking into account feedback gathered during the workshop and submit for the NCHRP project panel’s review.

Note: The costs for the workshop, including invitational travel for at least 10 attendees (not including members of the research team), should be included in the detailed budget for the research. For the purpose of estimating these costs, assume that the workshop will be held at a TRB facility (Keck Center in Washington, DC, or the Beckman Center in Irvine, CA) or state DOT facilities. NCHRP will cover costs associated with NCHRP panel member travel. Catering services for all participants including panel members should be included in the detailed budget for the research.

Task 9. Submit the final reports and presentations that address the review comments provided on the initial drafts to NCHRP for final review and approval.

Task 10. Present the research findings to appropriate AASHTO technical committees. The research team should anticipate making at least one presentation during the research to appropriate technical committees at annual meetings of the AASHTO Committee on Transportation System Operations.


Task 11. Prepare the final deliverables including the following:

  1. A conduct of research report that documents the entire research effort, any lessons learned, and recommendations for future research;
  2. Final draft of Reports No. 1 and No. 2;
  3. Media and communication material (e.g., PowerPoint presentations, 2-page executive level flyer, graphics, graphic interchange format (GIF)s, press releases); and
  4. A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.” See Special Note I for additional information. Additional funding may be available for a follow-up contract on the implementation of the results.

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.  




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 8½” 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/6765. 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 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. 


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. 


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 


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 


Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/O0poapyJBh1j0LJ892gn 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 2/21/2023.

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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