Special Experimental Project No. 14 (SEP-14)
FHWA Headquarters' SEP-14 approval is necessary for any non-traditional construction contracting technique which deviates from the competitive bidding provisions in 23 USC 112 and its implmenting regulations 23 CFR Parts 635 and 636. Any construction contract which utilizes a method of award other than the lowest responsive bid (or force account as defined in 23 CFR 635 Subpart B) must be evaluated under SEP-14. These non-traditional contracting techniques may include best value, life cycle cost bidding, qualifications-based bidding or other methods where cost and other factors are considered in the award process.
Alternative contracting practices to be evaluated under SEP-14 are to be submitted with an endorsement by the FHWA Division Office to the Office of Infrastructure, Program Administration, Contract Administration Group (HIPA-30) for approval (please send an information copy to the appropriate FHWA Resource Center contact person). Review comments and recommendations made by the division and by the Resource Center should accompany the proposal. Submittals should be made early in the development of the project(s) in order that Headquarters' review comments can be incorporated in the project design and/or documents.
The basic component of an SEP-14 proposal is the work plan which includes a brief description of the technique to be evaluated and a proposed evaluation plan. Draft special provisions pertinent to the alternative practice should be included if available at the time of the submission.
The primary purpose of a formal evaluation process is the sharing of useful information with other contracting agencies. As such, owners are encouraged to share both positive and negative lessons learned in the evaluation reports.
The following items should be addressed in the work plan:
Purpose: A brief description of the innovation which is to be evaluated and the expected results.
Scope: A brief discussion as to how the experiment will be conducted, including the number of project(s), a description of the location, existing conditions, etc.
Schedule: An approximate schedule for the project(s) including: advertisement, letting, award, project completion, and evaluations and reports.
Measures: A brief description of how the innovation is going to be evaluated (i.e., cost savings, time savings, improved quality, etc.).
Reporting: The number of evaluations should be proportional to the nature of the contracting technique and the size of the project. For small projects with relatively simple contracting techniques, a single initial/final evaluation report will suffice. For large proejcts where more evaluation is appropriate, initial, intermediate and final evaulations will be necessary. Electronic reports should be forwarded to Headquarters (HIPA-30).
The initial report should be prepared approximately at the time of project award and should discuss any industry reaction to the innovation and any identifiable effects on the bids received. A copy of the bid tabulations should be included.
Intermediate reports should be prepared upon completion of the work and/or periodically until completion of the experiment. These reports should discuss the effects on work performance and monitoring, quality, completion time, claims, and other contract administration or legal issues.
The final report should be prepared upon completion of the experiment and should contain an overall evaluation of the innovation. Suggestions for improvements, pitfalls to avoid and a recommendation as to further use of the innovation should be included in the final report.