The National Academies

NCHRP 10-116 [RFP]

Quantifying Variability in Quality Characteristics of Pavements

Posted Date: 12/1/2022

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
(Phase I shall be limited to $100,000)
Contract Time: 30 months
(Phase I—10 months, includes 2 months for NCHRP review and approval of the interim report; Phase II—20 months, includes 3 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/5/2023 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Amir N. Hanna
   Phone: 202/334-1432
   Email: ahanna@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 1/17/2023
Fiscal Year: 2023


Variability is inherent in all pavement materials and construction processes; this variability influences pavement quality and performance. Examples of such variability are found in the properties of asphalt pavement materials (e.g., binder content, aggregate gradation, mix volumetrics, and in-place density), the properties of concrete pavement materials (e.g., strength, air content, thickness, and permeability), as well as smoothness of asphalt and concrete pavements.

Observed variability of pavement material properties is influenced by mix design practices, test equipment and methods, material processing and construction practices, use of recycled materials, state departments of transportation specifications, and asphalt and concrete performance tests. Quantifying the magnitude of variability of pavement materials and construction processes is needed to establish its effect on long-term performance. However, there is no widely acceptable procedures or guidelines for quantifying variability in the quality characteristics used for acceptance of asphalt and concrete pavements.

There is a need to identify the procedures currently available for estimating variability in quality characteristics, develop procedures that better address the different applications and related issues, and prepare guidelines for the application of these procedures. These procedures and accompanying guidelines should help construction and materials engineers and paving contractors in enhancing quality assurance programs and construction practices and improve pavement performance.


The objectives of this research are to (1) recommend procedures for quantifying variability in the quality characteristics used for acceptance of asphalt and concrete pavements and (2) prepare guidelines for their application in quality assurance programs.

Accomplishment of the project objectives 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 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 1. Collect and review information on current practices relevant to the procedures for quantifying variability in the quality characteristics used for acceptance of asphalt and concrete pavements (e.g., material processing, construction practice, and quality measures). This information may be obtained from published and unpublished information and contacts with public and private organizations involved in pavement construction.

Task 2. Evaluate the procedures identified in Task 1, identify potential procedures, and recommend modifications of existing procedures and new procedures that merit evaluation in Phase II. It is anticipated that these procedures will involve statistical analyses and other approaches.

Note: Proposals shall include the research team’s current thinking regarding the process for evaluating the identified procedures and the factors that will be considered in the evaluation.

Task 3. Develop a research plan for work to be executed in Phase II to (a) further evaluate the potential, modified, and new procedures identified in Task 2; (b) identify and develop recommended procedures for quantifying variability in the quality characteristics used for acceptance of asphalt and concrete pavements; and (c) prepare guidelines for their application in quality assurance programs.

Note: Proposers must include a plan that provides detail on the proposer’s current thinking regarding the work anticipated in Phase II, the format and content of the procedures and the guidelines, and the process for ensuring practical ability of the guidelines. The work proposed for Task 5 must be divided into subtasks, and proposers must describe in detail the work proposed in each subtask. 

Task 4. Prepare an interim report that documents the research performed in Tasks 1 through 3. Following review of the interim report by the NCHRP, the research team will be required to make a presentation to the project panel. Work on Phase II of the project will not begin until the interim report is approved and the Phase II work plan is authorized by the NCHRP. The decision on proceeding with Phase II will be based on the contractor’s documented justification of the updated work plan.

Note: The contractor shall submit the Phase I interim report within 8 months from contract award and meet with NCHRP within 2 months of report submission. The meeting is expected to be in-person and held in Washington, DC. Whether in-person or online, NCHRP will host the meeting and be responsible for any panel member costs to attend meeting.


Task 5. Execute the plan approved in Task 4. Develop the procedures for quantifying variability in the quality characteristics used for acceptance of asphalt and concrete pavements and related guidelines. 

Task 6. Using the procedures developed in Task 5, prepare examples to illustrate use of the guidelines for different scenarios, and prepare a technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note I) to facilitate implementation of the developed procedures and guidelines.

Note: Proposals shall discuss the proposer’s current thinking regarding the scenarios that will be considered.

Task 7. Prepare presentation material in a PowerPoint or other format to facilitate implementation and use of the developed procedures and guidelines. 

Task 8. Prepare a final deliverable that documents the entire research effort. Deliverable will include (a) a research report documenting the work performed in the project and used to develop the procedures and guidelines; (b) the guidelines as a standalone document; and (c) a technical memorandum on implementation of research findings and products as a separate document. The procedures developed in Task 5 shall be presented as an appendix to the research report, and the examples presented in Task 6 shall be included as an appendix to the guidelines.

Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverable, 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 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/6779. 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.

Note: 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/P2jaJUBH3NK4dXBX4wkb 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 1/17/2023.

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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