Experience has shown that the ITS procurement method can have a significant impact on the ultimate success of the ITS installation. Currently, the success rate for intelligent transportation systems life cycle is very low. Some of the key issues that have been identified with the procurement process include incorrect contracting approach, inexperience of the agency, failure to follow appropriate procedures, and inadequate commitment of project management and systems engineering resources.
The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) funded this research with the objective of developing a guide to contracting ITS projects and services that would assist government officials, traffic engineers, system integrators, and others involved in the specification development and purchasing of ITS installations. The approach for this study included an extensive literature review as well as a survey of state and local Departments of Transportation to learn about their current practices and experiences with ITS contracting. As a result, a report of findings, "Considerations for a Guide to Contracting ITS Projects" and "Guide to Contracting ITS Projects" were published. This guide presents an eight-step Decision Model that guides agencies through the procurement process and enables them to select the most appropriate procurement package for their project. To obtain a complete understanding of the Decision Model, readers should consider the full set of lessons learned (as each lesson learned is based on a separate step of the decision model).
The agency's contracts personnel should be involved from the beginning of the procurement process, and it is especially critical that they play a role in the final selection of the procurement package and in the definition of the terms and conditions. After applying the differentiators to reduce the number of potential procurement solutions, multiple options may still exist. In this case, it is necessary to work with the agency's procurement officials to select the final package. Considerations in making the final decision include:
- Give preference to alternatives with which the agency has had prior experience and success.
- Assess the compatibility of the package with the systems engineering and project management principles.
Upon selecting the procurement package, the final step in the contracting decision model involves the selection of the terms and conditions to be included in the contract. This step should be performed in consultation with the procurement staff, as it requires contracting expertise. The "Guide to Contracting ITS Projects" provides the terms and conditions required for all contracts, as well as the terms and conditions that are applicable to specific procurement packages. Agencies seeking guidance on specific terms and conditions of contracts should consult the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).
These steps of the Decision Model are designed to create an efficient and reliable procurement process. This increased efficiency can result in cost savings for agencies in the procurement of ITS. Moreover, by enabling agencies to choose the most appropriate procurement package, the Decision Model facilitates the ultimate success of the ITS deployment.
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