South Carolina DOT takes prize for rationalising clunky procurement regime

It used to be chaos outside the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) as 2pm approached on the day Requests for Proposals were due from engineering consultants.

Dozens of teams would race to find parking near its offices in the city of Columbia so they could lug their heavy binders full of documentation into reception before time ran out.

Now, thanks to a concerted effort since 2013 to rationalise its clunky, legacy and disparate procurement and project delivery systems, the scene at 955 Park Street is a picture of calm, because SCDOT’s engineering and construction supply chain can submit RFPs at their leisure, from the comfort of their own premises, with a click.

Eric C. Stuckey, SCDOT’s engineering technology and research manager, calculates that the savings on paper alone, with more than a million documents now having been submitted electronically, has saved 30 barrels of oil, 7.5 tons of carbon dioxide, and 94,419 gallons of water.

The effort has won SCDOT top prize in the Project Delivery category in Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure Awards (YII), announced 24 October in Singapore. 

SCDOT has been on a journey to overhaul its systems using Bentley’s ProjectWise tool. The effort was lent urgency in 2017 when the state legislature increased gasoline taxes, channelling increased revenues into much needed transport infrastructure projects.

Currently, SCDOT manages more than 6,300 projects and more than 1,800 contracts in preconstruction and construction phases. Before the overhaul, the department had multiple application platforms gathered over many years by different engineering offices and sub-departments. Data was captured in many different formats and in systems that remained unintegrated and unsynchronised.

The job of getting a true picture of projects at all phases was time consuming and, because it required repetitive manual data entry, prone to error.

In order to achieve common business processes, data and document sharing across systems to aid engineering project delivery, SCDOT implemented ProjectWise to centrally store all documents and information related to an engineering project.

SCDOT’s goal was to develop "digital twins" of projects, where digital information is in sync with, and exactly mirrors, the real-world asset, helping SCDOT management make better decisions and save time.

Consultants can submit proposals into ProjectWise and a custom Scoresheet enhancement allows SCDOT evaluators to electronically evaluate and score each firm based on a predefined ranking system defined by SCDOT. The winning firms and information are reported back to P2S with their ranking information to be used for awarding future projects. Multiple engineering offices interact with the system at various stages of the process with different roles and rights while keeping ProjectWise the central hub of information. This system also shares information with different stockholders through automated workflow processes.

The system enjoyed rapid take-up within SCDOT and its supply chain.

Eric Stuckey told jurors that when the selection and scoring process was first implemented in 2013, just five selections consisting of 56 proposals in the amount of $10m were awarded.

But in the first eight months of 2014, 35 selections were conducted, involving 563 proposals at an estimated value of $205m. Usage has since grown consistently, leading to what Stuckey called an "immeasurable" increase in office productivity.

More than $500m worth of transport projects have since been procured and delivered digitally, Stuckey said.

"Since implementing ProjectWise in 2013, SCDOT has achieved workflow efficiencies, increased productivity, improved accuracy, and saved on technology costs," YII juror’s said.

"ProjectWise has streamlined consultant selection and scoring, enabling the agency to process many times the number of contracts. Having a central information hub expedites project delivery by saving time searching for information stored in multiple applications. It has also reduced costs associated with maintaining multiple applications."

  • GCR editor Rod Sweet was on the jury panel for this category of the Year in Infrastructure Awards 2019.

Image: Teams repave the US 25 North in South Carolina with cash raised by the state’s new gasoline tax (SCDOT/Twitter)

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