Chapter 4: Grant and Contract Development and Execution

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Section 1: Project Scoring

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Introduction

Each year, during the project scoring process, review teams composed of Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) program managers and Traffic Safety Specialists (TSSs) score general traffic safety project proposals according to the criteria described in this section. Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) proposals are scored automatically through the TxDOT Electronic Grants Management System (eGrants). Approved proposals are then incorporated into the annual Highway Safety Performance Plan (HSPP).

The project selection teams are provided access to all general traffic safety proposals through eGrants, and after evaluating the needs of various communities and statewide concerns, determining the quality of traffic safety problem identification, the proposed solution, and the proposed budget, a Traffic Safety Project Proposal Score Sheet is used to score each project against a number of selected criteria that are based on each element of the project proposal. The criteria are the same regardless of geographic coverage (local, multi-county, state, etc.).

The evaluations are conducted on the basis of the threats identified in the problem identification, the reasonableness of the problem solution, and other factors pertinent to the resolution of the identified problem. If a problem and solution are considered worthy of inclusion in the HSPP, but the budget is considered inappropriate, the negotiation for project budget development will occur prior to HSPP development.

A range of point values is assigned to most elements of the project proposal and a range of criteria responses is also provided to help the scorer determine the strength of the proposal. After initial scores are assigned, a “multiplier” is applied based on the relative importance of the criterion to the overall proposal. Thus a final score is awarded to each scoreable criterion.

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Scoring Teams

Scoring teams are comprised of TxDOT Traffic Operations Division - Traffic Safety Section (TRF-TS) program managers, district TSSs and other staff. Individuals on a scoring team serve one of two functions. These functions are identified below:

Reviewer - Reviewers assigned to a scoring team are responsible for scoring assigned proposals within a designated time period. Proposals can be scored via a computer with internet access that meets the system requirements specified on the eGrants login page. Scoring consists of:

  • adding internal/external comments to any of the proposal pages, if needed. Reviewers do not combine comments on one page, but post comments directly on the page in question.
  • selecting the appropriate response to score each question
  • saving the score sheet
  • completing scoring by notifying the appropriate facilitator upon completion of their scoring prior to final submission of their scores. A pre-scoring conference call is held with each scoring team.

Facilitator - The team facilitator does not score proposals and is responsible for organizing/conducting conference calls with their assigned scoring team. Facilitating consists of:

  • serving as the point of contact for questions from the team and coordinating responses from reviewers during the scoring process
  • checking the progress of the team during the scoring period
  • reviewing proposal comments submitted by the reviewer and determining if the comment(s) should stay internal or external as marked by the reviewer
  • forwarding proposals from teams once all reviewer comments and scores have been entered.

NOTE: All reviewers and facilitators must sign a Texas Traffic Safety Program Non-Disclosure & Conflict of Interest Certification Agreement.

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Recommendation

After scoring all general traffic safety projects, facilitators submit the score sheets and results to the Traffic Operations Division (TRF) planner, who places the projects, along with all STEP projects scored by the eGrants system, on a draft proposed project list for further review and prioritization. Priorities are assigned based on point scores, rankings, past performance grades, and the estimated amount of federal dollars that will be available for the HSPP for the coming fiscal year.

Scorers indicate the recommended funding for the project and provide a rationale statement if the recommended amount is lower than the amount requested in the proposal. In no case can an amount higher than that requested in the proposal be recommended.

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Scoring Criteria

Scoring team members will review and evaluate each general traffic safety proposal for applicability to Texas and community traffic safety problems. Each qualifying project proposal will be scored based on the following criteria:

  • strength of problem identification supported with verifiable, current, and appropriate documentation of the state or local traffic safety problem
  • quality of the proposed solution plan
  • realistic objectives, performance measures, and activities
  • cost eligibility
  • percent of matching funding proposed
  • reasonable and necessary budget.

STEP proposal problem identification will be scored based on the population-based rate of relevant crashes or casualties (number/per 10,000 population) in combination with the absolute number of relevant crashes or casualties in Texas counties and cities for the most recent year for which data is available. The source of this information will be the TxDOT Crash Records Information System (CRIS) and population data from the Office of the State Demographer.

Other scoring criteria for STEP projects include:

  • the proposed STEP indicator,
  • the proposed matching contribution, and
  • the proposed number of Public Information and Education (PI&E) objectives.

TRF-TS staff will review each STEP proposal after they are scored by the eGrants system to ensure that:

  • all information on the required proposal pages is complete and meets minimum acceptable TRF-TS standards,
  • project target numbers appear reasonable based on the baseline numbers supplied in the proposal,
  • any required attachments have been submitted with the proposal,
  • all budgeted items are necessary and reasonable for the project, and
  • the TxDOT budget amount does not exceed the maximum amount allowable based on the proposing community’s population.

TRF-TS staff reviewing STEP project proposals will add internal/external comments to any of the proposal pages, if warranted, to assist the program/project manager in project negotiations.

Subgrantee Past Performance Grade Review

The subgrantee’s prior performance and grade will be reviewed as a component of the subgrantee’s “demonstrated effectiveness” in providing traffic safety projects and will be considered during the awarding of projects. With funding being cut across all federal/state agencies, including NTHSA, it is especially important that grants be awarded to those agencies that have proven to be capable of carrying out the terms and conditions of their awards and that have made a positive impact to the Traffic Safety Program.

After all proposals are scored, TRF-TS staff will check the proposing agency’s performance grade for the project’s previous grant period. Agency projects that receive a grade of A, B, or C will be determined to have provided sound performance in the administration of the grant during the previous grant period.

Agency projects that receive a “D” grade should not be awarded a grant during the current year’s RFP process unless it is determined to be in the best interest of TRF-TS to do so. In these cases, the agency will be considered a “high risk” subgrantee and will be expected to demonstrate improved peformance during the first three months of the grant period.

Agency projects that received an “F” grade should not be funded through the current RFP cycle.

NOTE: All first-year traffic safety projects will be considered neutral in the grading process and will be viewed as receiving a “C” grade the prior year.

Agency project grades for the prior year can also be used in determining grant awards in certain circumstances. For instance, if two proposals competing for a similar project have an identical score (through the TRF RFP scoring process) and funding is limited, the agency’s prior year’s performance grades may be used to determine the agency that is to be funded. An “A” grade will beat a “B” grade, a “B” grade will top a “C” grade, etc. If the (letter) grades of the agencies are the same, then TRF-TS staff will view the numerical grade (created by eGrants) to determine the award.

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Scoring Sheets

Both the General Traffic Safety Proposal Score Sheet and the STEP Proposal Score Sheet are located on TxDOT Traffic Safety Request for Proposal (RFP) Page.

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Process Overview

The following table lists the steps a typical grant agreement or contract follows from negotiation to execution. Also shown are the parties responsible for each step of the process and the section of this chapter explaining each step.

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Step

Action

Responsible Parties

1

Project Negotiation

Subgrantee or performing agency and project manager (see Section 2 of this chapter)

2

Grant or Interagency Cooperation Contract (IAC) Preparation

  • for grants, the subgrantee (see Section 3 of this chapter)
  • for interagency cooperation contracts, the performing agency (see Section 4 of this chapter)

3

Subgrantee or Performing Agency Approval

Subgrantee (see Section 5 of this chapter)

4

Review

Districts and TRF, including district TSSs (see Section 6 of this chapter)

5

TxDOT Approval

Districts, TRF, or the executive director or his or her designee (see Section 6 of this chapter)

6

Execution

All parties (see Section 7 of this chapter)

7

Amendment (if necessary)

All parties (see Section 8 of this chapter)



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