Caltrans Office Engineer

Recent changes

E-ad and polishing up

E-ad is now in its second week, and things are going well. The most frequent question I get is from people registering for a connect account, and not getting the confirmation email, and the most common response is that they need to check their spam folder. I added in the message to check the spam folder when they register, so I hope that solves these problems. Other than that, I'm polishing things up on both the internet and our internal process. For the most part, things are going very well. Today, I also added a 'quick jump' of sorts to the advertising page. When someone is asking about a certain project, it makes it easy for me (or anyone else) to jump to it. When e-ad becomes the accepted norm, I'll be able to move on to building a few other cool things that we've wanted to roll out for a while.

Posted by Rich on 04/13/2010.


E-advertisements

Starting April 5, we're going to do a full implementation of e-advertising. All project documents will be available online only, except for the bid book, which we'll be sending out via overnight mail at no charge. There's a few reasons we're doing this:
1. We were tasked to cut our own costs, and our shipping costs are very high, despite charging for our plan sets.
2. We are exceeding our printing capacity.
3. We anticipate a higher upcoming workload related to printing and shipping, and needed to come up with a solution.
4. We find that this is a move that our contractors can live with happily.
5. We want to move our plans desk operation from a shipping operation to a service operation, and this is a good start.
We are using our Connect feature as a backbone to this service, which is nothing new, but it was a natural extension, which allowed us to continue to maintain a bidder's list. We hope to cease shipping bid books and move to 100% electronic distribution later this year, and are working on some improvements that will make the bid book a more useful document to everyone.

Posted by Rich on 03/16/2010.


Advertising Enhancements

In addition to the Connect features, I've put together a few more things that might be useful to people looking to bid our jobs. In the past, we've always had our "attachment a -e" lists for advertised projects. I simplified things and created an "advertised projects" list, and an "upcoming projects" list. This should make things a little simpler for anyone looking for information on a particular project. In addition, I added a feature that was requested multiple times via our feedback feature - a calendar of upcoming bid openings. This should be useful for those who want a visual representation of what's coming up for bid. All of these features can be found on the "Advertised Projects" link at the left.

Posted by Rich on 08/31/2009.


Caltrans Connect

I've finally rolled out a feature I've wanted to develop for a long time, Caltrans Connect. It allows anyone that participates in any of our "social contracting" features (opt-in & prime advertising) to track, edit, or delete their postings. You can also view the addenda for the projects that you are currently watching - making the Connect system a way for you to uniquely manage your bidding interests.

In the future, we're going to add new capabilities to Connect accounts. Create an account today to take advantage of the services that it offers.

Posted by Rich on 08/31/2009.


Bidders can target their subs now

AGC had asked us for a way to allow prime bidders to target the subcontracting community to ask them for help with specific items. We've finally added a feature to allow that. On the advertised project listings, you'll see that there is now a link next to each project that says "advertise for help". By filling out this form, you are letting subcontractors know exactly what you need, whether it's Item 20 - 24, paving, or water pollution control. It's up to you what you ask for, then it's up to the subcontractors to contact you with their services and prices. We're hoping that this helps everyone out there be a little more efficient when putting bids together.

Posted by Rich on 05/18/2009.


ARRA Funded Projects

All advertised project pages have been amended to show which projects have federal funds. Clicking on "Recovery Act Funded" leads to a page which shows all Recover Act funded projects currently advertised.

Posted by Rich on 04/22/2009.


Email, Furloughs, Updates

Furloughs are affecting the way we do business in this office, so I've added a couple notes letting people know that some services can be delayed. We've only been furloughed one day, but it's already causing problems for bidders. We've also started collecting email addresses from contractors through our opt-in list and our plans order forms. These email addresses will not be published anywhere or used for spam - we want to eventually send out notifications of addenda and other important announcements over email.

Posted by Rich on 02/11/2009.


Bid Summaries

I updated the bid summary listing, and made things overall more accessible. When you click the Bid Summaries link on the left side of the page, you'll be taken to a layout that gives you 6 weeks of our bid summary documents, showing the listing of bidders, prices, subcontractors, etc, and on the right side, you see preliminary results, which will show up prior to us producing the full blown report, and that will show the most recent 2 weeks. For those that just want to keep on top of how the competition's bids went, or see how they did, this is a good option.

Posted by Rich on 01/16/2009.


Feature Tour

I added a product tour of sorts, letting everyone know what we've been up to and features we've added, along with a brief tutorial on how to use it all. Check it out!

Posted by Rich on 12/18/2008.


Contractor Specialty License Search

I've finally added a tool that lets contractors search for projects that match their specialty license. Only have a C-8 license? Now you can find projects you can bid on. I've also added licensing requirements to all other advertised projects. I hope this is a help for contractors looking to narrow down their project search.

Posted by Rich on 11/26/2008.


Feedback page

I added a real feedback form to the website to track user feedback and suggestions. Rather than drop off to an email address, it puts the responses into a database, which lets various people around the office see what people think needs improvement and what is working well for them. Internally, I added a tracker to make sure we've responded to or addressed all comments left. It should be a good tool to keep us on track with what improvements we need to make, and make sure we're giving users more of what they like.

Posted by Rich on 10/27/2008.


Opt-in is here

I just completed our opt-in feature on the website. This is a service that allows contractors or suppliers who do not pick up a set of plans to still get recognition on our planholder's pages, along with being able to advertise their disabled business status (DVBE, etc), and to list the services they provide. We see this as a great way to promote small business and encourage usage of our electronic plans and specs we make available. To add your information, click the "opt-in" link by any project advertised under Attachment A or B under our advertised projects page.

Posted by Rich on 09/19/2008.


More FAQ's

People around the office have been sending in more FAQ's, so I've been updating the page to reflect that. We've got some really good information on there that should help out a few people.

Posted by Rich on 08/28/2008.


FAQ

I added a Frequently Asked Questions page to cover all the little questions that come up day to day. As more questions strike me as being "frequent", I'll put them on here too.

Posted by Rich on 08/12/2008.


Map Tool Released

I've put our map tool up for public use. It uses the google maps engine to show where all our advertised and upcoming projects are all over the state. Clicking on any of the tabs brings up a mini-summary of the project, along with a link to a standard summary. You can also zoom in, pan around, and use the tool however you like. It's still new, so let me know if anyone has problems with it or suggestions on better way to display our projects.

Posted by Rich on 07/17/2008.


XML file for advertised projects

When I converted the advertised project listing over to the new format, I temporarily dispensed with the CSV files we had previously provided. After several questions about whether or not I'd be able to continue to provide them, I've decided to offer something a little more flexible - an XML file of the advertised project data. For those that use the data, this should be just as useful, flexible, and will be automatically updated on 9am on Monday morning, just like the rest of the advertised project info. Find the file on the right side of the weekly ads page.

Posted by Rich on 07/02/2008.


Bid Item Search

The bid item search is finally complete, and working well. You can either search by partial bid item descriptions or by item codes. And once you've found those contracts, it's a simple click to find prime or subcontractors to contact. Please let me know if this is working well for you, and let me know if there's other functionality you'd like to see in the future.

Posted by Rich on 06/25/2008.


Feeds

RSS feeds are coming to the site soon, I've created one for this page (site updates), and have also created one for the addenda page, which I'm currently testing out. Future plans are to include feeds for newly advertised projects and awards, and maybe branch out to specification updates. For those wondering what RSS is, here's a primer. It's basically a way to keep up to date with websites that offer changing information, and hopefully will make things easier for our customers.

Posted by Rich on 05/27/2008.


Addenda on Attachment B

Attachment B (currently advertised projects with ad dates prior to current week) now shows which projects have addenda. The link will direct you to the directory containing the files.

Posted by Rich on 05/14/2008.


Small Change to Planholder Search

I didn't have a sort specified for the planholder's search database, so by request, it now sorts by contractor name.

Posted by Rich on 05/09/2008.


Relief of Bid Form

A form has been posted for contractors seeking relief of bid on the contractors information table.

Posted by Rich on 05/02/2008.


Construction Cost Index

Construction Cost Index has been updated to include Q1 2008.

Posted by Rich on 05/01/2008.


Addenda

Addenda are now converted over to database entries, meaning they should show up sooner, be more accurate, and I can also integrate them into the other advertised project listings, so you can see immediately which projects have addenda. Hopefully I can update the advertised project list within the next couple weeks.

Posted by Rich on 04/30/2008.


New Weekly Ads Format

Our weekly ads are fully transitioned over to a database platform. That means easier administration for us, and better service to you. All weekly ads listings are now sortable by contract number, bid opening date, and advertising date. We have some more features planned out in the future, but if there's something anyone else would like to see, please let me know.

Posted by Rich on 04/21/2008.


Frontpage changes and bidder survey

The frontpage was updated with a few items. I added a note about the bid results hotline, along with a link to the phone menu cheat sheet. I also re-created the bidder survey to add our new database features, along with a note for our contracting partners to update their records with their latest information.

Posted by Rich on 04/16/2008.


Big changes coming

I've databased up our "advertised projects" listing. What that means to us is updates are easier to do and maintain. What that means to our customers is that the data will be available in more formats and more usable. For example, you can now sort the results with a simple click to find out what's advertising soonest or what's bidding first. Changes should show up next Monday.

Posted by Rich on 04/14/2008.


Contract Progress Report

The contract progress report and cpr charts have been updated.

Posted by Rich on 04/09/2008.


Bid Summary

I updated the bid summary search to return full PDF bid summaries when they exist.

Posted by Rich on 04/04/2008.


AC Index Updated

AC Index was updated. April 08 index was 504.1.

Posted by Rich on 04/02/2008.


Update feature added

This feature was just added today. It's a blog-style updater that allows us to easily post important changes made to the website quickly and easily. No more looking around to see what has been updated, it should all show up right here!

Posted by Rich on 04/02/2008.


Contractor brochure

The contractor brochure was updated with the most recent version.

Posted by Rich on 04/01/2008.


BAR Reports Updated

Both bidder activity report and bar summary were updated.

Posted by Rich on 04/01/2008.