Procuring, Managing, and Evaluating the Performance of Contracted TMC Services
Web site information,
Reporting Methods and Periods
A previous section detailed the types of sampling that may occur with typical TMC data. In the case of evaluating contracted services, any action taken by a contractor can be contractually required to be reported. It is important that contracts detail specific requirements of expectations for various tasks, so as not to become a point of contention between the agency and the contractor.
The contract can specify the exact requirements for reporting data or it can be stated to be self-reporting. In many cases, systems that record and relay data from devices are essentially self-reporting. Caution should be taken however to ensure that the appropriate level of detail is employed. While an operations manager might want 15-minute speed numbers from roadways, it is unlikely that TMC management would want to see that level of detail. A firm understanding from both contractual parties as to what type and level of aggregation needs to be employed is very important.
Almost by definition, contract language which specifies a reporting period is going to be specific and definitive. In this regard, there should be no contention between a TMC and a contractor unless language such as “periodically” is used when discussing performance periods.
In the sampling of actual contracts, a significant majority of the contractual language specified a discrete reporting period and provided a clear expectation for the contractor. Typical wording includes terms such as ‘annually’, ‘monthly’, ‘weekly’, ‘daily’, ‘by 10am of every Tuesday’, ‘within seven days of award’, etc. Findings from the contract review where less specific wording was used included examples such as “…and other plans, and technical reports, as required…” (TMC Support Scope of Work RFP, RiDOT).
A time issue that goes hand-in-hand with reporting periods is the retention period for data used in the reports. Depending on the type and the frequency of generation, data can rapidly accumulate. Many professions have utilized a data aging progression where after a certain period of time, data are aggregated. After another time period, data may be taken off-line and stored on retrievable media. Depending on the terms of the agreement, data may be aged as part of the contracted services, although it is more likely to be turned over to the TMC which would then follow the agency’s record retention policies.
These decision/time points are presumably based on published policies and more likely to affect TMC operations as a whole and may not come into consideration for many contract situations dealing with only a portion of TMC services. If however, a contract is awarded for TMC operations, data storage, retention, and aging, as well as reporting, become critical considerations, particularly if any hardware expansion cost is the responsibility of the contractor.
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