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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Considerations of Current and Emerging Transportation Management Center Data

Chapter 6. Contract Considerations

Agency staff are not required to use any particular business model offered by the private sector. A well-informed agency has significant negotiating and bargaining power, and executing that power requires only a modest amount of effort. If an agency is offering funding for data, the agency should have the ability to request specific business models and approaches. If the requests are unreasonable, then no one will bid on the work. However, most bids receive proposals, and having an open dialogue with all potential bidders about the pros and cons of the agency's projected outcomes is critical.

Once an agency has selected a data provider (or winning bidder) and contract negotiations start, the company may request revisions to contract documents—including payment terms, acceptable use terms, or the business models used. Agencies should be wary of late-game change-ups to the scope of work and/or acceptable use terms and conditions. Less scrupulous companies sometimes attempt this bait-and-switch approach. That said, most ethical companies will point out in the proposals what it is that they are offering to the agency—even if it differs from what was requested in the request for proposal.

As discussed in the Federal Highway Administration report "Applying Archived Operations Data in Transportation Planning—A Primer," it is wise to consider a phased approach to data procurement. A best practice is to write contracts in a phased approach—start small and ensure the meeting of early goals. If the projects are successful, then work can progress on bigger tasks—adding layers of complexity and building off prior work and available data sets. Initiating extremely large tasks that are not easily broken down into smaller deliverables can be a recipe for confusion, cost overruns, disappointment, and waste.

Lastly, check references! Almost every data provider has worked with or is already working with another State or agency. Make sure you independently verify the data provider's data and business practices with friends and colleagues in the agency. It is also advisable to call multiple people within each agency to ensure one person does not skew the results.

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