California Department of Transportation

Project Development Workflow Tasks (PDWT)

Part 3 - Identify Project Need and Project Initiation Document

II. Project Initiation Document

E. Prepare and Approve PID (WBS 150.25) - Circulate, Review and Approve PID (WBS 150.25.20)

P80. Identify and Estimate Consultant Effort

Architectural and Engineering (A&E) contracts can be used to accomplish work that cannot be performed satisfactorily by state staff or that is of such a highly specialized or technical nature that the expertise is not available within state service. Examples of this are contracts for Special Environmental Studies and Hazardous Materials Investigations. The Department may also contract out if the services are of such an urgent, temporary, or occasional nature that the delay would defeat the purpose, or if it doing so is in the best interest of the safety, health and welfare of the public. An example would be “Emergency” contracts, which are used when a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a flood, has caused the closure of highways.

A&E contracts can be either project specific or “On-Call” contracts. On-Call contracts are used when the work is not identified for any specific project until after the consultant has been hired. The specific project and work is identified later in a “Task Order”. Depending upon the district, some districts have a Consultant Services Office write and negotiate the On-Call contracts, and handle payments of the consultant invoices. The task of writing Task Orders, providing technical oversight and reviewing the consultant’s work products is now typically the responsibility of the Design Offices and an assigned Design (Senior) Engineer. Thus, it is up to the Design Offices to determine what projects (or portions of projects) to contract out, write the Task Order, provide consultant oversight, and manage the consultant through delivery of the Task Order work for design work done by consultants.

Typically, Design Offices will elect to contract out only portions of projects and the Design Office while retaining the overall delivery responsibility of the project.

Guidance for planning, procuring and managing A&E project specific and on-call contracts, including Task Orders, may be found on the HQ Divison of Procurement and Contracts (DPAC) website. The Caltrans Service Contracts Manual Chapter 17 contains substantial information about writing service contracts, but has extremely limited information about A&E Contracts and Task Orders. Each district manages its contracting out processes independently, and procedures differ significantly. Contact the District Consultant Services Unit for assistance.

Types of A&E contracts


Project-specific contracts are contracts for services to produce a report, a study, plans, specifications and estimate, etc., for a fixed location or locations, identified in the contract. Typically, Project Specific contracts are referred to as contracting out “whole” projects, although some functions may not be contracted out where it is best for the Department to do perform the work (such as purchasing of right of way).


On-Call contracts are used when services are to be provided at short notice with minimum delay and when services required are of a minor nature. This type of contract as used for contracting out “portions” of projects (such as the preparation of a project PS&E, a hydraulic study, electrical PS&E, Survey DTM).

Identifying Work to Contract Out

A general decision is made by the Design Division Chief as to a target level of PY (person year) effort that is to be contracted out. Functional Units that are understaffed and are at risk of not delivering are typically the units that may utilize contracting out. Otherwise, a search is made for projects where portions of work may be easily contracted out. Projects having uncertain delivery schedules or high risk of delay are not good candidates for contracting out. After determining which projects are good candidates for contracting, the Project Delivery Team recommends what portions of project development work will be contracted out.

Design Manager Contract Development Responsibilities

The responsibility of preparing project A&E contracts differs significantly with each district and division. When the responsibility is assigned to a design manager or project engineer, the steps below outline the general procedure to follow.

  • Notify all involved Functional Units (FU)’s of the intent to contract out.
  • Jointly, with the project manager (PM) and FU’s, develop the schedule for consultant deliverables.
  • Jointly, with the project manager and FU’s, prepare a draft contract.

Include a:

  • A clear, concise and detailed description of the scope of the work to be performed using WBS.
  • Meet with other Functional Units as needed to develop scope of work and services.
  • Include list of deliverables in draft contract.
  • Include deliverable completion dates.
  • Prepare resource estimate by WBS activities & fiscal year for draft contract.
  • Provide draft contract and cost estimate to PM and Contract Manager (CM).
  • Participate in consultant selection process if requested by CM.
  • Participate in cost negotiation process if requested by CM.
  • Update project workplan upon request of PM.

Time Constraints

Occasionally, starting the process for obtaining consultants may be required as the PID nears completion. This occurs when the consultant work is to begin as part of the first items of the PA&ED phase. This is not typically the case and the effort required to get the contracts started should be included in the project delivery schedule since contracting out A&E work is typically a lengthy process.

On-Call contracts take 5 to 6 months to execute, however, once executed Task Orders may be written and approved within in a month or two depending on the expediency of the Task Order preparer. On-Call contracts authored by the project engineer will typically require three to four months to complete and execute before the consultant may commence work. Project Specific contracts require a full year to write, obtain approval, request proposals, select a consultant, negotiate costs, and execute a final contract. The project engineer should confer with the district’s/Region’s Contract Manager and project manager regarding expected timeframes and possible strategies.


Division of Procurement and Contracts website

Architectural and Engineering Contract Resource Center website

Task Order Development Procedures

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This page last updated November 20, 2010