Synthesis of Information Related to Airport Practices. Topic S01-23. Procuring Software Solutions at Airports

Airports regularly and successfully contract for materials and services using tried and true contracting and legal methods. This vehicles appear to be less useful when selecting and procuring software solutions. Airports are usually at a disadvantage when attempting to procure software for their operation due to the complexity of their operation and usual procurement restrictions. Most airports issue a "Request for Proposal" (RFP) with instructions to complete a "proposal" response and send it back to the office for review to enter the competitive selection process. The challenge with the RFP/proposal scheme is that it is not well suited for selecting enterprise software, and the RFP process doesn't guarantee the best decisions for the airport. RFPs are designed by the purchasing agency as a way to get the best commodity for the best price and they still do that well. When a software solution is solicited, there's a long grid of features that are required and a number of additional essay questions to answer. The result is that proposals end up without a clear answer to the business problems that are not clearly articulated. These problems are compounded by the length of the procurement process, negotiations, licensing issues and other legal terms, along limitations to the resulting agreements that may hinder the ability of the software vendor to effectively roll out the product. There is a need for a synthesis study to compile the different and effective ways that airports approach the procurement of software solutions, including: (1) How does the airport determine what needs the software will fulfill? (2) How does the airport determine the need for a customized solution as compared to an off the shelf solution? (3) How does the airport expedite/maintain timely procurement in order to have access to and maintain up to date software? (4) What are the legal issues around procurement and how are the licensing provisions handled? (5) How does the airport approach long term software support needs? The objective of this synthesis is to compile practices airports have instituted to procure software solutions. The audience for this synthesis is airport technology and procurement officers, and supporting counsel. The following tasks and resulting information will be described in a concise report: (1) Survey literature on challenges and solutions to public agency/airport software solutions procurement. (2) Collect data from a diverse range of airport technology officers and supporting staff (legal, contracting) to describe software solutions procurement, with challenges, successes, tools and collaborating airport departments highlighted. Data collection is envisioned through survey or interview of at least 15 diverse airports (i.e., geographic region, NPIAS classification, sponsorship, etc.) to provide data on software solutions procurement processes, legal vehicles (e.g., licensing), other unintended issues, and atypical practices used (e.g., accounting). (3) Develop case example descriptions from interviews, describing experiences, benefits, challenges and lessons learned for at least 5 diverse airport/local government experiences. (4) Provide appendix materials that display data collection results and helpful documents/checklists. (5) Describe any further research needs to improve airport software solutions procurement practices.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $45000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 11-03, Topic S01-23

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591
  • Project Managers:

    Staba, Gail

  • Start Date: 20200720
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01723641
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 11-03, Topic S01-23
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 25 2019 3:12PM