Use appropriate procurement methods when contracting for operations for Transportation Management Centers (TMCs).

Eight states' experiences with procurement methods for TMCs.

Atlanta,Georgia,United States; Boston,Massachusetts,United States; Detroit,Michigan,United States; Houston,Texas,United States; Long Island,New York,United States; Milwaukee,Wisconsin,United States; Phoenix,Arizona,United States; Toronto,Ontario,Canada

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

Effective procurement techniques are key to acquiring the right facility, systems, and services at a reasonable price. The following lessons outline and suggest various procurement methods to use when contracting for operations for Transportation Management Centers (TMCs).
  • Spend time selecting the appropriate contractor. Having a general, non-ITS contractor as the prime contractor in a systems contract may increase costs significantly. It is also important to avoid total dependence on the primary design or development consultant's opinion by obtaining a "second technical opinion." One TMC cited significant success hiring consultants for particularly complex areas such as fiber optic network design and geographic information systems. Another TMC experienced significant utility in hiring an independent inspection consultant who had previous ITS implementation experience.
  • Take the extra steps needed to ensure the efficacy of the system used. Although customized commercial off-the-shelf software was viewed by some TMCs as a panacea, one TMC warned against assuming that accepting such a solution was faster, more reliable, or less costly than a more purpose-built system. Furthermore, TMCs that fully understand what is needed are advised to buy their own hardware directly rather than through contractors or consultants to reduce cost, simplify warranty and maintenance management, and ease the process of replacing obsolete equipment.
  • Plan for integration in both budgeting and implementation. Wide-scale integration of installations of low-bid contractors can be complex and appropriate expertise must be retained for integration to be successful. One TMC, whose system had been built within significant time constraints by several contractors, noted the complexity of wide-scale integration of installations by multiple low-bid contractors.
  • Remain in charge of one's own project. This can be achieved by refusing to accept software that is less than satisfactory from the developer, thus losing leverage over the developer in resolving future problems that may eventually plague operations and maintenance. Additionally, by keeping separate generic, performance, and detailed specifications in a single TMC acquisition, an agency can obtain the desired flexibility while controlling the risk distribution within a project. Also, if privatization is being considered, it is important to carefully and completely specify which services will be provided by the privateer.

These experiences point out that procurement methods should be chosen carefully with consideration given to the above-listed recommendations. Taking great care in selecting the appropriate contractor, ensuring the effectiveness of the system used, planning for integration, and maintaining control the project are all methods an agency can employ to ensure a more productive and efficient flow of operations.

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Metropolitan Transportation Management Center Concepts of Operation: A Cross-Cutting Study

Author: Joint Program Office (JPO)

Published By: FHWA and FTA

Source Date: 10/1/1999

EDL Number: 10923

Other Reference Number: FHWA-JPO-99-020 / FTA-TRI-11-99-10

URL: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/2997

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Lesson Analyst:

Jane Lappin
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center


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Lesson ID: 2006-00289