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Alternative Technical Concepts & Creativity in Public Procurement

Albert E. Dotson, Jr.

Alternative Technical Concepts (ATCs) are an important tool that government agencies use, and private entities can take advantage of, to optimize the efficiency and creativity of the solutions available for any given project. We have previously discussed how the private-sector expertise that is inherent in a P3 results in faster speed and higher quality. An ATC allows a proposer to propose a different requirement, whether it be a modified contractual requirement or alternative technology, that is not contemplated by the solicitation, in order to enhance the government agency's base requirements.

When a government agency allows proposers to submit ATCs in response to a solicitation, it is providing itself with an option it may not have contemplated with respect to that project. As such, as we have written before, the government agency needs a certain level of expertise to effectively assess and deliver certain projects. This is especially important with regard to ATCs, as the right assessment of a proposed ATC can result in a more innovative, effective, or creative solution to the problem the government is seeking to solve with any given solicitation. 

Recently, the Texas Department of Transportation awarded a P3 Concession to rebuild and add express toll lanes to the LBJ Freeway in Dallas based on an ATC that was proposed. The winning team proposed a design that provided over $1 billion in cost savings by using depressed express lanes instead of a tunnel. Miami-Dade County's recent solicitation for the Beach Corridor of the SMART Plan allowed proposers to submit ATCs, which will similarly provide the opportunity for the introduction of innovative transportation concepts. Only time will tell what new concepts will be presented, but it is clear that the use of ATCs can be the cherry on top of the private innovation that is afforded through the use of P3s.

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