The National Academies

NCHRP 08-174 [RFP]

Development of a Surveying and Mapping Guide for Transportation Projects

Posted Date: 9/6/2023

  Project Data
Funds: $600,000
Contract Time: 36 months
(schedule to include 1 month for NCHRP review and approval of the interim report and 3 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/19/2024 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Jennifer L. Weeks
   Phone: 202/334-2122
   Email: jlweeks@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 10/24/2023
Fiscal Year: 2024



Many state and federal transportation agencies have their own surveying and mapping standards, which leads to inconsistencies in measurements used in the design and construction of transportation assets. A national surveying and mapping standard would ensure spatial consistency, improve efficiency, minimize errors, and reduce duplication efforts.

There are some critical factors driving the need for consistent practices that may warrant consideration and adoption of a national standard:

1.  The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) requires the U.S. DOT to promote, implement, deploy, demonstrate, showcase, support, and document the application of advanced digital construction management systems (ADCMS) to enhance project execution.

2.  The National Spatial Reference System (NSRS), a coordinate system established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that defines latitude, longitude, height, scale, gravity, and orientation throughout the United States, is being modernized. The NSRS is required to be used by all federal agencies creating geographic information. Included in the NSRS modernization is the anticipated replacement of the North American Datum of 1983, the State Plane Coordinate System of 1983, and all existing NSRS vertical datums with new terrestrial reference frames and a new geopotential (vertical) datum. The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) announced that it will complete modernization of the NSRS by 2025.  

3.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology and NGS deprecated use of the U.S. survey foot on December 31, 2022. The international foot has been adopted for all applications throughout the United States, including the modernized NSRS. The U.S. survey foot is currently used by 44 states. 

Research is needed to identify the most effective and efficient surveying and mapping practices that may lead to adopting common practices that could be implemented in a nationwide standard. 


The objective of this research is to create a surveying and mapping guide for identifying positional accuracies of geospatial data used in transportation projects by state agencies and others that clearly specifies practices consistent with open data standards, the NSRS, and the deprecation of the U.S. survey foot.  

The guide will help agencies establish an appropriate level of accuracy for a given application and provide the details of practices that, if widely adopted, could ensure geospatial data are reliably and efficiently captured, shared, and reused.  

The guide should, at a minimum: 

  • Define a set of common terminology;
  • Consistently characterize, document, and report positional accuracy to maximize interoperability independent of specific manufacturers, vendors, products, or software;
  • Ensure data is captured, shared, and reused by all stakeholders with confidence, transparency, and efficiency;
  • Support future lifecycle and business uses such as building information modeling (BIM) for infrastructure, digital twins, and asset performance prediction and modeling;·       
  • Discuss the overall return on investment (ROI) of positional accuracy and alignment with the NSRS;
  • Present a ROI methodology that calculates the benefits and business case for positional accuracy and migration to the modernized NSRS;
  • Provide recommendations for specific applications appropriate to various phases and business uses in the lifecycle of an asset or project;
  • Consider the benefits and risks of data repurposing and use of geospatial data throughout the asset lifecycle;
  • Include applications that consider both the spatial and temporal characteristics of the data; and
  • Include a companion recommendation commentary to the guide that provides a succinct section-by-section analysis of the background, rationale, importance, and benefit of each recommendation.

Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.


The research plan should be logically divided into (at least) two phases comprised of specific detailed tasks to fulfill the research objective; include appropriate milestones and interim deliverables; and incorporate opportunities for the project panel to review, comment on, and approve milestone deliverables.

Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. 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 objective. 

PHASE I – Data collection and needs analysis

Task 1. Conduct a comprehensive literature review of academic and agency-provided documentation of current terminology and practices, challenges to be met, and industry needs.

Task 2. Plan for and execute stakeholder engagement of a diverse array of industry representatives from varying disciplines, business units, and areas of responsibility (including executives, managers, and practitioners) to identify institutional challenges, practices, and needs for the efficient capture, dissemination, and use of reliable geospatial data in and between agencies; how agencies might adapt to the modernized NSRS; and any issues or concerns agencies have about implementing agency adaptations.

Note: The budget must include all direct costs of the outreach approach proposed, including any travel for workshops or peer discussions. 

Task 3. Identify at least 10 potential use cases that illustrate the importance of different application contexts and approaches to geospatial data management currently in use across different business units and disciplines. Select a prioritized list of use cases to include in the guide that illustrates different experiences, strategies, and methodologies used by transportation agencies to address specific challenges in geospatial data collection and use of data in different contexts.

Task 4. Prepare and submit a detailed outline of the guide and any supplemental products proposed to support the use of the guide by practitioners.

Task 5. Submit a Phase I interim report documenting the process and results of the research conducted to this point and discussing additional research needs or activities that may be required in Phase II to finalize and validate the guide with stakeholders from the practitioner community.

Following a 1-month review of these deliverables, the research team will meet in person with the NCHRP project panel to discuss the Phase I interim report, Phase II work plan, and guide outline. The contractor shall provide point-by-point responses to the panel’s input in writing. 

Note: NCHRP approval is required prior to advancing to Phase II.

PHASE II – Product development 

Task 6. Execute the Phase II research work plan according to the approved interim report.  

Task 7.  Produce a draft of the guide document for panel review and comment using the outline presented and approved. 

Task 8. Prepare final deliverables, including (1) a final report that documents the entire research effort; (2) the revised guide; (3) communication materials describing the research and its products to a practical audience such as in a workshop or webinar; and (4) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note I). 

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 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/6842 <. 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.

L.  NCHRP is requesting fixed-price proposals for this project. 

Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/GZe72fpGq4eBdaVFASGl 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 10/24/2023.

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 IV 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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