focus excludes the use of any technology that increases the first cost even if it reduces the cost of maintaining and using the facility over its lifetime or reduces the user and social costs of the infrastructure. Attempts have been made to use life-cycle costs in comparing technologies, but such attempts have raised questions about how to calculate these costs. (Should user costs be included or just agency costs? How should the time value of money be treated?) Another difficulty is more political in nature. If the amount of money available for highway work is fixed for a given year, funding projects with higher first costs means not initiating as many projects—or satisfying as many constituents—in that year.

  • Prohibition of proprietary products: A related aspect of the procurement process is that proprietary products usually are not allowed because they limit competition and fail to conform to materials and methods specifications. There are usually some exceptions to rules against proprietary products, but these exceptions ordinarily allow the product to be used only once or in a limited number of cases. In addition, public agencies are often concerned about product liability when they use (or allow their contractors to use) a proprietary product or one that does not adhere to clear standards, guidelines, or approvals from national entities such as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

  • Risk management: Risk is inherent in trying anything new; some technological and methodological innovations can cause risk to be reallocated among stakeholders in a project. For instance, some innovative procurement procedures (such as warranties and use of performance specifications) shift control over, and therefore responsibility for, product quality from the transportation agency to the contractor. Unwillingness or inability to accept increased risk can be an impediment to implementing an innovative approach. Because of their responsibility to the public and the incentive structure they face, highway agencies tend to be risk averse. At both the individual and agency levels, there is little reward for success in innovation, and there are potentially huge penalties for failure.

  • Vested interests: In some geographic areas and some product categories, particular industries or firms exert significant political influence over agencies’ technology choices, so that even a willingness to innovate will



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