Improving Your Odds of Winning a Stimulus Grant via Innovation, Sustainability and Partnerships

July 9th, 2009 5:20 pm Category: Green Optimization, Optimization, Sustainability, Transportation, by: Editor

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued final guidance for the $1.5 billion in surface transportation grants it will award by next February, and among the top selection criteria will be environmental sustainability, innovation, and partnerships. DOT has included sustainability – improved energy efficiency, lower greenhouse gases, and/or less dependence on foreign oil – as one of five criteria it will consider in evaluating a proposed project’s long-term beneficial outcomes for a metropolitan area, a region, or the country. Long-term outcomes, along with a project’s impact on job creation and near-term economic stimulus, will be DOT’s primary criteria for awarding grants.

DOT will also be considering two secondary criteria – innovation and partnerships. DOT is soliciting projects that use innovative technologies to achieve long-term outcomes or significantly enhance the operational performance of transportation systems, and projects that involve partnerships with non-Federal entities and the use of non-Federal funds. Priority will be given to projects for which a grant will help complete an overall financing package.

Recent estimates from DOT suggest that up to $50 Billion in grant requests may be submitted, making this a highly competitive process. It will be essential for an applicant to thoroughly meet the primary guidelines and to score well on secondary guidelines to win tiebreakers. If your project doesn’t yet adequately address the three considerations of innovation, sustainability and partnership, Profit Point may be able to improve your chances of success:

Sustainability
Profit Point provides mathematics-based solutions that optimize the use of resources for maximal efficiency. Frequently this optimization results in reduced transportation mileage which minimizes greenhouse gas emissions as well as fuel consumption. It might also involve minimizing water use, minimizing output of toxic pollutants or maximizing production of beneficial byproducts.

Some examples include:

  • Scheduling ship berths at ports to minimize ship idle time in a harbor
  • Scheduling port (or canal) maritime traffic
  • Optimizing a port drayage schedule to minimize delays and overland carrier idle times
  • Optimizing local school bus or public transit system routes to minimize greenhouse gas emissions while providing optimal service
  • Routing your deliveries or pickups using the fewest miles traveled
  • Providing the algorithm to trigger variable speed limits on traffic leading to a congested area such as a city center or bridge
  • Optimizing deliveries for the elderly, such as “Meal on Wheels,” to minimize vehicle costs and emissions
  • Conducting infrastructure studies to evaluate the full impact of a project, such as a port expansion with intermodal considerations

If you need to address the sustainability criterion in DOT’s guidance or if you can benefit from including an optimization study as part of your application, we may be able to help you. Profit Point was recently awarded the Supply & Demand Chain Executive Green Supply Chain Award for its Green Network product. Profit Green Network can be used along with our Profit Vehicle Planner and Router Applications to create better plans and improve sustainability.

Innovation
While innovation is not a primary criterion for selection, it will be used to rank similar projects in order to break a tie. Adding leading edge technology such as mathematics-based optimization to your grant application provides one way of strengthening its innovative appeal.

Optimization is one of the hottest topics in industry today because it not only ensures operations are maximizing their current objectives, but also allows ‘what if’ modeling for future scenarios. “What if modeling” helps ensure continued achievement of your objectives, no matter what set of circumstances may occur.

Partnerships
After DOT considers primary criteria, priority will be given to innovative projects and those that involve State and local governments or private or nonprofit entities.

While there are certainly many partners available, adding a private, small business partner such as Profit Point, Inc. to the application may strengthen its overall appeal. Building on Profit Point’s extensive sustainable logistics and mathematical optimization experience can help make your project application unique.

Presenting the Proposal
Should you need assistance preparing your application or prefer advice from a transportation expert, you may wish to work with an experienced consultant on surface transportation issues. Phillips Strategic Services, a Northern Virginia firm with strong ties to both industry and government, is one firm available to assist you. Phillips Strategic Services experience includes:

  • Policy leadership at the Federal Highway Administration;
  • Policy development and lobbying for American Trucking Associations;
  • Senior staff to a Senate Committee handling surface transportation issues; and
  • Various government affairs, marketing, and strategic planning positions with Union Pacific Railroad, Conrail and CSX

In conclusion, nearly any type of surface transportation project is eligible for funding under the discretionary program, which was authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. DOT has named the program “Grants for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery” or TIGER Discretionary Grants, and applications are due by September 15, 2009 with all grants to be awarded by February 17, 2010.

If you’d like to improve your chances of success by strengthening the sustainability and innovative appeal, or if you need a partner to help you present your application most effectively, please contact us:

Profit Point, Inc.
No. Brookfield, MA
Cindy Engers: (925) 736-6800, cengers@profitpt.com
Richard Guy: (435) 487-9141, rguy@profitpt.com

Phillips Strategic Services Ltd.
Alexandria, VA
Mary Phillips: (703) 360-3560, mphillips@phillipsstrategicservices.com

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