Use task order contracts to develop, deploy, and maintain traffic signal control systems.

An experience based on the synthesis of best practices nationwide.

United States

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Lesson Learned

The design and deployment of traffic signal systems is often viewed as a daunting task by many agencies. The design choices regarding the type of traffic signal control system, the required communications, the type of signal timing schemes to be maintained by the system and the software required to run the system are often overwhelming. In addition, the overall cost of designing, deploying, and maintaining a traffic signal system can be high. One method recommended to defuse some of the challenges faced is the use of task order contracts.

A study on the nationwide best practices on deploying and operating traffic signal systems reveals the following experiences.

Recognize the increased flexibility of using task order contracts.

Task order contracts are gaining popularity within the transportation profession with agencies recognizing that increased flexibility provided by task order contracts can be beneficial for many types of work. Task order contracts allow agencies to enter into agreements with contractors prior to fully developing a project scope or requirements. Through task order contracts, contractors agree to provide services or deliver products as ordered by the customer from time to time. In this example, a general description of traffic engineering type services could be included in the statement of work, then as specific tasks are scoped and refined, the customer (transportation agency) could request work from the contractor as needed.

Control the pace of the project through small task order contracts as compared to one large overall contract.

Task order contracts are recommended for use in the design, deployment and maintenance of traffic signal systems. Task order contracts can also provide a team environment between the contractor and the client. Agencies may be better able to manage the project and also ensure they are fully aware of all facets of the design, deployment and maintenance of a traffic signal system.

An example application would be the use of a task order contract to purchase and deploy a closed loop system under a fixed price task order. Next, smaller tasks could then be issued to modify the system to accommodate special functions required in the system.

Address the operational and functional needs, as well as testing and acceptance criteria before deployment of a successful traffic signal system.

Key considerations must include:
  • Define the operational needs of the traffic signal system
  • Identify the functional needs of the traffic signal system
    • Hardware requirements
    • Software requirements
    • Communication requirements
  • Define a testing procedure and acceptance criteria
    • Test each component of the system as it is being built and deployed
Given the component type nature of traffic signal systems and the time required to fully deploy and test from start to finish, task order contracts can provide agencies with a series of stop valves. With these check points an agency can assess a contractor’s performance throughout the deployment of the system and determine the ability of the contractor to deliver the next task without making long term, high stake commitments.

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Successful Traffic Signal System Procurement Techniques

Author: Erin Bard Ehlinger/PB Farradyne

Published By: US Department of Transportation/FHWA

Source Date: 1/31/2002

EDL Number: 13611

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Lesson Contacts

Lesson Contact(s):

Erin Ehlinger, P.E.
ICx Transportation Group, Inc.

Aimee Flannery, Ph.D., P.E.
George Mason University

Lesson Analyst:

Firoz Kabir


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Lesson Categories

Procurement > Contract Form

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United States

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Lesson ID: 2005-00076