The National Academies

NCHRP 08-182 [RFP]

Playbook for Communicating Benefits of Transportation Systems Management and Operations Strategies Using System Performance Data

Posted Date: 12/26/2023

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 24 months
(includes 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: 10/1/2024 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Dr. Yi Zhao
   Phone: 2023342967
   Email: yzhao@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 2/16/2024
Fiscal Year: 2024


The widespread adoption of Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) strategies by agencies marks a notable advancement in transportation operations. Despite the multi-perspective benefits identified from various TSMO strategies, agencies face challenges in effectively communicating these advantages to diverse stakeholders. The surge in data from various sources and emerging technologies further complicates the communication of these benefits. 

Research efforts have improved data handling and developed new performance metrics, such as freeway and arterial reliability measures. However, linking system performance to TSMO strategies and consistently conveying their broader benefits remains a significant challenge. This indicates a gap between understanding the comprehensive impact of TSMO strategies and effectively communicating their benefits.

Research is critically needed to identify system performance measures to quantify TSMO benefits, utilize data to illustrate these benefits clearly, and provide recommendations to bridge any communication gaps to intended audiences. 

The research shall encompass defining what and how to effectively communicate TSMO benefits to whom and when in a timely, relevant, and accessible manner. The research shall also provide methods to assess the efficacy of the communications.


The objective of this research is to develop a playbook with practices for leveraging data and system performance measures to effectively communicate the benefits of TSMO to inter- and intra-agency practitioners/stakeholders, policymakers, and the public.

Accomplishment of the project objective 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 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 — Planning and Data Collection

Task 1a. Conduct a comprehensive literature review on how to measure and communicate the benefits of TSMO strategies. The literature review shall include published and unpublished research, policies, programs, and procedures conducted through the NCHRP; American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO); Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); other national, state, and local transportation agencies; and international organizations.

Task 1b. Propose an outreach approach (e.g., surveys, targeted interviews, focus groups, and other appropriate methods and/or tools) to collect information from state and local transportation agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, and stakeholders involved in evaluating, analyzing, and reporting the performance of TSMO strategies. The information includes:

  • Transportation practitioners' needs for considering, adopting, and communicating the benefit of TSMO strategies;
  • Relevant stakeholders involved in TSMO;
  • System performance measures and data used to identify TSMO benefits; and
  • The maturity level in implementing and communicating TSMO strategies.

Outreach materials and a roster of the participants shall be presented to and approved by the NCHRP. A short presentation is expected to be given prior to the initiation of outreach.

Note: The responses shall be solicited from diverse geographic regions.

Task 2. Synthesize the results of Tasks 1a and 1b to identify the knowledge gaps related to the project objective. These gaps shall be addressed in the final product or the recommended future research as budget permits.

Task 3. Develop a comprehensive methodology to accomplish the research objective to be developed in Phase II. The methodology, at a minimum, shall include the following: 

  • Identify stakeholder-specific needs for communicating TSMO benefits;
  • Identify successful use of data and system performance measures to demonstrate TSMO benefits and communicate to intended audiences;
  • Discuss common issues where the benefits of TSMO failed to be identified or were not effectively communicated;
  • Develop strategies and tools to address the gaps identified in Task 2;
  • Propose methods to evaluate the effectiveness of the communication strategies;
  • Identify a minimum of five representative case studies where system performance data effectively communicated the benefit of TSMO to the targeted audiences;
  • Based on the findings from Task 2, propose potential products to help in the implementation of recommendations; and
  • Provide a summary of the assumptions, data limitations, and other constraints.

Task 4. Develop an annotated outline for the draft playbook. Include the five case studies identified in Task 3 as part of the annotated outline.

Task 5. Prepare Interim Report No.1 that documents Tasks 1 through 4 and provides an updated work plan for the remainder of the research.

Note: Following a 1-month review of Interim Report No.1 by the NCHRP, the research team will be required to meet in person with the NCHRP project panel to discuss the interim report. This report shall be prepared no later than 6 months after the project initiation. Work on Phase II of the project will not begin until authorized by the NCHRP. 

The Phase I budget shall not exceed $80,000.

PHASE II — Execution and Documentation

Task 6. Execute the methodology according to the approved Interim Report No.1 and provide a summary of the findings, which at a minimum shall include the following:

  • Specific needs for communicating TSMO benefits to various stakeholders;
  • Recommended system performance data and measures to communicate the TSMO benefit;
  • Most effective communication strategies for demonstrating TSMO benefits;
  • Recommendations on the consistent communication of TSMO benefits;
  • Products and tools to implement the recommendations, e.g., presentations, infographics, storyboards, short videos, flyers, pamphlets, and webinars;
  • Methods to evaluate the effectiveness of the communication strategies;
  • Case studies;
  • A detailed chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the proposed research report; and
  • A sample chapter of the proposed research report that shall be publication ready.

The summary shall be reviewed and approved by the NCHRP before proceeding with Task 7.

Task 7. Prepare the draft playbook based on the approved summary from Task 6 for the NCHRP panel to review and approve. The draft playbook shall be submitted to the NCHRP 6 months prior to the contract end date.

Task 8. Develop and deliver the presentation of the research findings to the AASHTO Committee on Transportation System Operations. Revise the draft playbook based on the review comments.

Task 9. Prepare the final deliverables, which at a minimum shall include:

  • A final research report that documents the entire research effort and findings;
  • A playbook for effectively communicating the benefits of TSMO strategies;
  • Prioritized recommendations for future research;
  • Tools and communication material (e.g., presentations, infographics, storyboards, short videos, flyers, pamphlets, graphics, press releases) to support the implementation of the recommendations; and
  • A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.” (See Special Note J.)

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 2023. 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/6908. 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. The text of the final deliverable is expected to be publication ready when it is submitted. It is strongly recommended that the research team include the expertise of a technical editor as early in the project timeline as possible. See Appendix F of the Procedural Manual for Contractors Conducting Research in the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Program for technical editing standards expected in final deliverables.

I. 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.

J. 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

K. 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.

L. 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/oMYrzmErFfcC00DWYijb 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 2/16/2024.

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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