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Center for Accelerating Innovation

FHWA Home / OIPD / Accelerating Innovation / Every Day Counts / EDC-2: Alternative Technical Concepts (ATC)

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Alternative Technical Concepts

State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) often look to contractors to provide innovative solutions that promote efficiencies, reduce risks, accelerate project delivery schedules and reduce project costs. Through a flexible highway contracting process known as Alternative Technical Concepts (ATC), contractors can submit innovative, cost-effective solutions that are equal to or better than the State’s design and/or construction criteria.

The Alternative Technical Concept (ATC) process is most commonly used with design-build project delivery where a State DOT issues an RFP which may contain basic project configurations, design and construction criteria. Design-build teams submit ATCs based on their industry expertise. The DOT reviews the submissions and grants approval of the concept on a pass-fail basis. If the concept is acceptable, the design-build team may incorporate this concept in its technical and price proposal. This process allows contractors to submit innovative concepts and solutions in a confidential manner.

The DOT selects a best-value proposal that meets, or potentially exceeds, the RFP requirements. Best-value considerations may include concepts that accelerate project delivery, reduce travel impacts or include features desired by the DOT and/or the general public. The ATC approach fosters a best-value solution that also increases the value of the project to the public.

ATCs are typically used on large design-build projects where the best-value selection may depend on the degree of innovation in the technical solutions offered by the teams. Many States have evaluated and benefited from the use of ATCs on large design-build or public-private partnership projects. While there is less experience with the use of ATCs in design-bid-build project delivery, the Missouri DOT has evaluated this approach in a traditional low bid environment with some degree of success.

The ATC approach promotes competition and the exchange innovative approaches early in the design process, giving DOTs the opportunity to select proven design and construction solutions that offer the best value.

Page last modified on February 12, 2018
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