Archives for May 3, 2016

Transportation Research Board of the National Academies

a source for projects related to transportation infrastructure is TRB

this is a good example for an economist and engineer to work together


Guidance for Calculating the Return on Investment in Transit State of Good Repair

Posted Date: 5/3/2016

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Contract Time: 18 months
(includes 1 month for TCRP review and approval of the interim report and 2 months for TCRP review and for contractor revision of the final deliverables)
Authorization to Begin Work: 10/1/2016 — estimated
Staff Responsibility: Dianne S. Schwager
Phone: 202/334-2969
RFP Close Date: 6/28/2016
Fiscal Year: 2016


Maintaining transit capital assets in a state of good repair (SGR) is critical for transit agencies. Mature transit agencies with well-established systems are often challenged to restore existing capital assets to SGR, while for newer transit systems the challenge is to maintain assets in SGR to maximize system performance and minimize maintenance and operating costs.

Recent research has helped document the impacts and implications of SGR investments, relating these to improved asset performance. Other research has helped develop and refine the tools and approaches for predicting economic benefits of investments in transit, though mainly for investments in new or expanded transit systems rather than achieving SGR. Thus, transit agencies lack guidance, tools, and methods for calculating quantifiable benefits of SGR investments and expressing these in terms of return on investment (ROI) or other measures. Addressing this gap would help transit agencies better prioritize investments and better communicate the full range of benefits of investments in SGR. These benefits affect travelers of all modes, the local and regional economy, the environment, and social equity.

Given that funds for preserving and replacing existing transit assets are tightly constrained, guidance and methods that can help best direct investments have great potential payoff.


The objective of this research is to develop guidance for calculating a return on investment (ROI) for rehabilitating or replacing existing transit assets to help achieve state of good repair (SGR). This guidance should help transit agencies identify the full impacts of SGR investments versus other investment options. The guidance should be useful to transit agencies of different sizes and modes.

The research for this project should:

  • Define ROI as it applies to SGR decision-making and investments for public transit. The definition should specify the criteria that drive ROI analyses for public transit decision-making with regards to SGR. These criteria should, at a minimum, address transit system performance, positive and negative customer impacts, and the local and regional social and economic impacts. 
  • Identify the critical data and information and address common issues in data quality and completeness relevant to ROI and SGR decision-making for all major categories of transit assets as specified by the FTA Asset Management Guide:
  • Present measures and standards that are currently used within and outside of the transit industry that pertain to SGR and ROI in the United States and internationally; 
  • Present methods to assist transit agencies (1) examine levels of investment; (2) compare investment strategies; and (3) prioritize investments to help achieve SGR based on ROI criteria. The methods should be scalable to large, medium, and small transit agencies. 
  • Test and demonstrate the methods for calculating ROI for public transit SGR investments based on pilots or proofs of concept. 
  • Based on the pilots or proofs of concept, refine the methods for calculating ROI for transit agency SGR investments; and 
  • Develop guidance for calculating a ROI for rehabilitating or replacing existing transit assets to help achieve SGR.


Proposers are asked to develop and include a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task. Proposers are expected to present a research plan that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers’ current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.

Federal ‘EMP’ risk

GAO reports

Key federal agencies have taken various actions to address electromagnetic risks to the electric grid, and some actions align with the recommendations made in 2008 by the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack (EMP Commission). Since 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have taken actions such as establishing industry standards and federal guidelines, and completing EMP-related research reports. GAO found that their actions aligned with some of the EMP Commission recommendations related to the electric grid. For example, DHS developed EMP protection guidelines to help federal agencies and industry identify options for safeguarding critical communication equipment and control systems from an EMP attack. Further, agency actions and EMP Commission recommendations generally align with DHS and DOE critical infrastructure responsibilities, such as assessing risks and identifying key assets.

Additional opportunities exist to enhance federal efforts to address electromagnetic risks to the electric grid. Specifically, DHS has not identified internal roles and responsibilities for addressing electromagnetic risks,

Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics newsletter

datl-may-16-cover source

select articles include

Enhancing the Science and Technology Manager Career Field

STEM Education and Outreach: Strengthening Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Pursuit of the Possible: USSOCOM’s Technical Experimentation Program


Open Mike: news from NIH

Dr. Michael Lauer

Dr. Michael Lauer is NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, serving as the principal scientific leader and advisor to the NIH Director on the NIH extramural research program. 

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NIH grants reflect research investments that we hope will lead to advancement of fundamental knowledge and/or application of that knowledge to efforts to improve health and well-being. In February, we published a blog on the publication impact of NIH funded research. …

Building a Better Biomarker Glossary

Both the NIH and FDA are keenly interested in working together to help the biological and clinical research communities speak a common language, so that research results can be clearly understood by both groups. This is especially true in considering the vocabulary used to describe measures of health, disease, or physiological processes…..