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SMALL BUSINESS NETWORK . Skip Powe, P.E. 2006 Trns*port User Group Conference Portland, Maine. OVERVIEW. What is It? Concept Development Process Training & Implementation Modifications & Enhancements My 2 ¢ Worth & The Future Conclusion & Demonstration. WHAT IS IT?.

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Skip Powe, P.E.

2006 Trns*port User Group Conference

Portland, Maine


  • What is It?

  • Concept

  • Development Process

  • Training & Implementation

  • Modifications & Enhancements

  • My 2¢ Worth & The Future

  • Conclusion & Demonstration


  • The Small Business Network is an

    enhancement of

  • The SBN is a tool for DBEs, prime contractors, subcontractors, and vendors to solicit and exchange quotes regarding upcoming bid projects.


  • The SBN is a mechanism that basically extends the tools of Bid X, including Bid Tab Analysis, to the DBE and subcontracting community, thus allowing greater access and involvement in the bid letting process.


  • Bid X is a web-based bidding information service developed by ITI exclusively for the road construction industry.

  • It is used by 23 state transportation agencies in the US, including ALDOT.


  • ALDOT’s involvement in SBN came about due to an inquiry from the Bid X team in the Fall of 2005 concerning our perception of interest in the contracting/subcontracting community for internet based software to facilitate soliciting and submitting quotes.

  • The Bid X team saw the demise of the opportunity for the subcontractors being able to meet directly with plan holders due to the increase in electronic bidding.


  • Demise?

  • ALDOT begun using Bid X with the January 2006 letting.

  • Since then, more prime contractors have begun utilizing electronic bidding as compared to the traditional paper method.


  • During the July, August and September lettings, the attendance for the pre-letting reception at the “Hotel” has been greatly diminished due to the increase in electronic bidding.

  • In fact, the reception and the letting-morning breakfast have been cancelled for the remainder of the year.


  • Why ALDOT?

  • ALDOT’s Current Trns*port Usage:

    • BAMS/DSS

    • Estimator

    • Expedite

    • PES/LAS

    • SiteManager

    • SitePad

    • CRLMS JAD Participant


  • In addition, we have good communication between our DBE and Construction offices.

  • So, ALDOT partnered with Bid X on the initial development, principally because we saw a great opportunity.


  • Alton Treadway serves as the Asst. Bureau Chief for Computer Services, the Trns*port User Representative, and the DBE Program Administrator (Certifications and Goals).

  • I serve as the DBE Contract Administrator (Enforcement and Credit) in the Construction Bureau.


  • Utilizing Alton’s knowledge and background, coupled with my contract admin experience and industry contacts, we were able to provide significant guidance to the Bid X team to make the initial release of the SBN capable of providing worth to both the prime contractors and potential subcontractors.


  • ALDOT provided no money for software development, but we will be subscribing to the service for certified DBEs who bid on ALDOT contracts.

  • Why?


  • To help remove barriers to the participation of DBEs in DOT-assisted contracts.

  • To assist the development of firms that can compete successfully in the marketplace outside the DBE program.

  • To create a level playing field on which small businesses (i.e. DBEs) can compete fairly for DOT-assisted contracts.

  • To provide appropriate flexibility to recipients of Federal financial assistance in establishing and providing opportunities for DBEs.


5.To meet our overall DBE goal using Race Neutral means as outlined in 49 CFR 26.51, specifically subparts (b)(1), (3), (4), (6) & (9).


December 2005:

  • Conference calls to discuss the system requirements and to “brainstorm” what the system should do

    February 2006:

  • Webinar/Conference call to view progress and to discuss functions such as partial quotes, remarks/comments, quote submittals, good faith efforts, and administration capabilities


June 2006:

  • Webinar/Conference call to view alpha version of the system and to discuss functions for posting documents, search tools, quantity/unit requirements, account tracking/monitoring, and training format

    Early July 2006:

  • Webinar/Conference call to discuss status of pending tasks, long-range development, training sessions, beta testing/usage and implementation


Mid July 2006:

  • Initial training of DBEs and prime contractors

  • Additional modifications and enhancements as a result of the prime contractors’ training

  • Follow-up communication and email with industry representatives

  • Beta testing/usage begins


September 2006:

  • Second round of training of DBEs and prime contractors

  • More modifications and enhancements as a result of the prime contractors’ training

  • Solicitations being posted, even by firms who have not been trained

  • Beta testing/usage continues

  • Develop implementation plan for DBEs



  • July and September in ALDOT classroom

    • July – 19 firms

    • September – 16 firms

  • Webinar and Conference call

    • July thru present – approx. 30 firms contacted

  • Entrepreneurial Development Institute

    (DBE Supportive Services business training)

    • October – 15 firms


Prime Contractors:

  • July and September in ALDOT classroom

    • 11 trained to date, but industry associations are forwarding brochures and emails describing the SBN and its capabilities to their members.

    • Bid X users who have not been trained are soliciting quotes in the Beta period.



  • After a DBE firm is trained, Bid X establishes one account for the firm.

  • ALDOT will pay the subscription fee for the basic SBN features (Bid X subscription, Bid Tab Analysis, and SBN).

  • Fee is paid using designated Supportive Services funds.

  • ALDOT and Bid X have established a discounted rate schedule depending on the number of accounts.



  • We have already established 37 accounts.

  • Some of the accounts established are the result of the recommendations from prime contractors.

  • Our goal is to have an account for each of our 98 “Ready, Willing, and Able” DBEs.



  • DBE is expected to use the account. Bid X has developed a report in the Admin section that lists the accounts and the last access date.

  • Any DBE’s account that remains inactive for 3-6 months is subject to cancellation

    (Note: we will provide sufficient warning and allow DBE chance to explain inactivity).



  • DBE may add additional functions such as Internet Bidding (as a prime), Digital ID Certificate, and On-Line Plan Sheets, but the DBE will pay for these functions themselves.


Prime Contractors:

  • Industry Associations have been receptive to distributing brochures and emails.

    • Alabama Road Builders Association

    • Alabama Asphalt Pavement Association

    • Alabama Bridge Construction Association

    • American Concrete Pavement Association


Prime Contractors:

  • During the Beta period, existing Bid X users can utilize the SBN free of charge.

  • After the Beta period, prime contractors and non-DBE subcontractors who choose to subscribe will pay a small monthly fee.

  • To assist the solicitation process, ALDOT maintains a link to a pdf file that lists all the DBE Bid X accounts and the DBE’s contact information.


  • As the system has developed, we and/or the contractors have recommended the following modifications and enhancements to improve the SBN:

    • Made Unit field an editable field.

    • Add “Work Type” comment field to Solicitation Search.


  • Add County information next to Project Number for Item Search and Search Summary.

  • Modify the SBN to allow the subcontractor to reply to a solicitation via a button rather than start a new quote.

  • Sort solicitation item searches by Item Number.

  • Add mechanism to allow prime contractors to withdraw a solicitation.


“Boiler-Plate” quote stipulations:

  • Add a general quote comments field as shown on the handout.

  • This general comments field will allow for more detailed quote stipulations and for information that applies to all the items being quoted such as including GRT, bond, engineering, etc.


Admin Solicitation Report:

  • Create an administrative report to search solicitation history by Contract ID or Prime Contractor.

  • Data will include:

    • Contract ID

    • County

    • Contractor Name

    • Work Type

    • Date Posted

    • Date Withdrawn (if applicable)

    • Link to the items that a quote is needed.


Admin Solicitation Report:

  • Data will remain in the system regardless if the prime contractor has withdrawn his solicitation.

  • This report can be utilized in Good Faith Effort reviews.


  • My Experience is in Contract Admin and not Civil Rights.

  • I negotiated approx. 260 Change Orders over a 6 year period, so I am well aware of contract problems and bidding/quoting methods.

  • Divisions and their varying interpretations and enforcement of specifications and requirements have led to inconsistencies, which I was a part of for years.


  • The Road Builders’ Executive Director and I have discussed these inconsistencies several times, especially those involving paperwork submittals and reviews (and interpretation of data).

  • We both see advances in technology and new tools as a means to minimize inconsistencies, which will save ALDOT and the contractors time and money.

  • These types of savings will, in turn, be reflected in bid prices.


  • Continue to spread the word throughout the industry.

  • Continue to train both DBEs and prime contractors on how to use the system.

  • Continue to work with the Bid X team to finish the modifications and enhancements.

  • Develop an action plan for Phase 2 needs such as direct quote submittals.


  • The SBN is the next step in the electronic bidding process.

  • The SBN will give DBEs more opportunities to bid.

  • The format should save primes and subcontractors time and money, which the state should see in their bids.

  • The SBN can be used for GFE documentation.

  • The SBN is a Race Neutral means for the state to meet their overall DBE goal.


If your state wants to implement SBN, you need to:

  • Open your communication between Construction, Contract, and DBE offices.

  • Get your Industry Associations on-board.

  • Encourage the DBEs to use the system.

    • Explain the benefits.

    • Provide them opportunities.

    • Make it worth their while.

  • And you will benefit in the end!


  • Skip Powe, P.E.

    • DBE Contract Administrator

    • ALDOT Construction Bureau

    • Phone:(334) 353-6302

    • Fax: (334) 264-3727

    • E-mail:



Mike Self

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