The National Academies

TCRP J-05/Topic 22-04 [RFP]

Update of Buy America
[ TCRP J-05 (Legal Aspects of Transit and Intermodal Transportation Programs) ]

Posted Date: 5/20/2024

  Project Data
Funds: $125,000
(up to 50,000 more for option work)
Contract Time: 9 months
(includes 1 month for TCRP review and approval of the draft report and 1 month for TCRP review and contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 11/3/2024 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Gwen Chisholm-Smith
   Phone: 202.334.3246
   Email: gsmith@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 7/11/2024
Fiscal Year: 2024

ATTENTION PROPOSERS: A Research Project Statement for TCRP Project J-05/Topic 22-04 was originally released on August 29, 2023, but no proposals were received, and no award was made. The purpose of this Research Project Statement is to re-announce this project. This Research Project Statement is slightly different from the original statement. This solicitation is open to all qualified proposers, including agencies that responded to the earlier Research Project Statement.


The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) plans to award a contract for a study and report. Legal reports sponsored by this project are published in TCRP's Legal Research Digest (LRD) series. Publications are available to some libraries and approximately 4,000 transportation lawyers and officials through the TRB distribution network.


TRB has published a series of legal guides about the federal Buy America requirements that attach to federal financial assistance provided through the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT). 

TCRP LRD 17: Guide to Federal Buy America Requirements (2001) covers all the Buy America requirements, emphasizing the requirements that apply to manufactured products and rolling stock.

TCRP LRD 31: Guide to Federal Buy America Requirements—2009 Supplement updates the information presented in TCRP LRD 17.  

TCRP LRD 49: Updated Guide to Buy America Requirements—2015 Supplement explores the varying requirements attached to funding from multiple department of transportation (DOT) modal administrations, including the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This digest focuses on public-private partnerships, joint development, and multimodal projects with a public transportation nexus and that receive funding from one or more federal agencies. TCRP LRD 49 also discusses the evolving Buy America rules that apply to utility relocation.

Buy America practices in the U.S. DOT have evolved since the publication of TCRP LRD 49, notably with the passage and implementation of the 2021 Build America, Buy America Act (BABA), which requires iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in federally funded infrastructure projects to be produced in the United States. With cross-cutting applicability, the BABA construction materials provisions could significantly impact all federal programs.


The objective of this research is to review and assess current laws, regulations, and guidance to:

  1. Produce a consolidated digest that updates and supersedes TCRP LRDs 17, 31, and 49, emphasizing evolving issues, including:
    • Reinforcement of concepts embodied in FTA’s Bob Hope Airport Intermodal Center decision concerning multiple end products within a typical construction project;
    • Application of the construction materials requirements flowing from BABA and the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) August 23, 2023, guidance to federal agencies;
    • Discussion of FTA/U.S. DOT decisions, concluding earlier FTA practices complied with BABA, except the treatment of construction materials;
    • Implications and practices of FTA’s September 16, 2016, Dear Colleague letter allowing contractors to exercise the small purchase waiver on behalf of project sponsors;
    • Impact of U.S. DOT’s Buy America and BABA waivers published on August 16, 2023; and
    • The practical implications of compliance for project sponsors and contractors.

  2. Produce, as an appendix to the report, a practical guide for project participants (e.g., project managers and inspectors) that captures the salient aspects of compliance and project oversight.                                                                                                                             
  3. At the option of TCRP, should significant additional implementing regulations or guidance emerge during the pendency of the project or within 9 months of contract execution, provide an update incorporating the additional materials.


This research will be conducted in five tasks under a firm fixed price agreement.

Task 1. Develop a research plan and detailed report outline. The consultant will conduct background research and develop a complete research plan that includes all relevant laws, regulations, and guidance necessary to complete this study as an update to existing TCRP LRDs 17, 31, and 49, with particular emphasis on final OMB and U.S. DOT guidance on and implementation of BABA. The final step of this task will consist of developing a detailed outline for the report. The outline should be about 10-15 pages and contain sufficient detail to inform the committee of what a 75-100-page report will contain. This outline should contain the number of pages for each proposed section or subsection. The consultant will submit this material to the committee for consideration.

Task 2. Conduct research. After approval of the work plan, the consultant should conduct additional research and case and statutory/regulatory analysis.

Task 3. Submit a draft report in accordance with the approved work plan (including modifications required by TCRP).

Task 4. Submit a final report. The consultant should anticipate making two revisions to the report before it is finalized. One revision may be required after review by TCRP staff and members of a subcommittee. Final revisions may be necessary after the full committee has reviewed the report.

Note: Tasks 1 through 4 shall be completed within 9 months of contract execution.

Option Work (up to $50,000 more for option work)

Task 5. Objective 3, if assigned, will follow the same practice as Tasks 1-4 above.


25% paid upon submission and approval of the Task 1 report.
50% paid upon submission and approval of the Task 3 report.
25% paid upon submission and approval of the final report (following revisions as required by TCRP).

Task 5 option work will be paid on the same schedule if the option is exercised. 


Proposals should be submitted as a single PDF with the following information in the following order:

  1. Summary sheet
  2. A research plan that describes each task in sufficient detail to allow the review panel to make an informed assessment of the likelihood of the proposer’s success. The plan must include:
    • An introduction that provides a concise overview of the proposer’s understanding of the topic and the issues presented, the proposed team’s experience and qualifications relevant to the topic, and the team’s proposed approach to conducting the research and preparing the report;
    • A brief outline of the proposed contents of the report;
    • Detailed information on the proposed research methodology for each task in sufficient detail to permit evaluation of achieving the objective(s);
    • A statement of resources (e.g., hours per person per task) allocated to this project and timelines for each task;
    • Resumes of key team members along with a description of responsibilities;
    • Any additions, deletions, or changes you wish to suggest to the scope of work; and
    • A list of relevant prior publications (one or two samples may be enclosed).


A. Proposers should read Guidance for Working on NCHRP and TCRP Legal Projects for more information.

B. Proposals are evaluated by the TCRP 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) experience and knowledge in the subject area; (2) experience in research writing (examples of prior writing); (3) prior relevant publications, including briefs; (4) quality and commitment of staff and other resources assigned to the project; (5) schedule for completing work; and (6) price. 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. 

C. 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 the 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. 

D. The National Academies have an ethical and legal obligation to provide proper attribution whenever material from other sources is included in its reports, online postings, and other publications and products. TRB will review all Cooperative Research Programs draft final deliverables using the software iThenticate for potential plagiarism. If plagiarized text appears int he draft final deliverable, the research team will be required to make revisions and the opportunity to submit future proposals may be affected. 

Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/RMISuXUEnUvveXHmLuOJ 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 7/11/2024.

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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