Foundation Study Process
The primary activity of the Foundation is sponsoring studies that promote natural gas use and safe, efficient pipeline construction and operation. The Foundation Planning & Studies Committee was created early in the Foundation’s existence to manage this program. In 2003, this Committee adopted, and the Board approved, modifications to the study development process intended to bring greater discipline to and enhance the overall quality of the study program. Most notably, the revised study process adopts a single annual cycle for the development, approval, and execution of study proposals.
Planning & Studies Process
The Planning and Studies Committee manages the development and execution of the Foundation study program. This includes examining potential study topics, developing detailed study proposals, acting as study sponsors and serving on steering committees, presenting completed studies, and reviewing the status of pending studies.
Barring exceptional circumstances, projects are expected to follow the development timeline depicted below. This cycle will begin with the development of preliminary study proposal topics at the Planning and Studies portion of the Spring Meeting. It will end with the review and approval of completed proposals at the Planning and Studies Committee meeting held in conjunction with the Foundation’s Annual Meeting.
In general, the Planning and Studies committee meetings will be structured as follows:
- April Spring Meeting
Members will be briefed on the status of completed and pending projects approved in the previous year. The committee also will use an interactive group process to review and discuss emerging issues affecting natural gas use and pipeline construction and operations with the goal of stimulating project ideas for the upcoming program year. Initial proposals are then developed.
- August Planning and Strategy Meeting
Project sponsors will present their initial proposals, including estimated costs, and seek co-sponsorship. These proposals receiving sufficient support are considered for detailed proposal presentations at the Annual Meeting.
- November Annual Meeting
Sponsors will present detailed project proposals and the committee will take a final vote on the recommended study program to be submitted to the Foundation Board of Directors for approval. Steering committees will then be assembled to direct the course of individual studies.
Study Costs and Contract Administration
Prior to the August Planning and Strategy meeting, study sponsors should develop realistic cost estimates for their proposals. At a minimum, study sponsors should consult with at least one potential contractor to develop this cost estimate, which should be part of the study proposal presented at the August meeting.
At the August meeting, the contours of the proposed studies are discussed and possible contractors are identified. This process can lead to adjustments in the scope of the proposals that can affect the cost estimates. Sponsors of proposals that are approved for further consideration at the November Planning and Studies Committee meeting should use the interim period to refine project cost estimates as precisely as possible. The slate of study proposals recommended by the Planning and Studies Committee and approved by the Foundation Board at the Annual Meeting includes budgeted amounts for the individual proposals. If necessary, sums allocated to studies can be adjusted between Board meetings by the Executive Committee.
Following the approval of study proposals by the Foundation Board, the Foundation staff works with study sponsors to form steering committees that manage and monitor the progress of such studies. Requests For Proposals (RFPs) are sent to potential contractors identified during the study development process. The Foundation staff and the steering committees award contracts after reviewing the responses to the RFPs. Criteria for selection include the proposal’s consistency with the proposed study’s intent, the quality of the contractor’s proposal, and the price. Other criteria considered include references, the qualifications of the work team identified for the project, and a review of sample work products submitted by the contractor.
After a contractor is selected, staff prepares and tenders a contract. Typically, these contracts incorporate by reference the contractor’s proposal and include any amendments that Foundation staff and the steering committees deem necessary. The contracts also set milestones to be achieved during the study cycle and the deliverables that are expected. In addition, the contracts directly tie payments with concrete deliverables appropriate to each study. A project manager is assigned to each study. The project manager and the steering committee are responsible for ensuring that the study deadlines are met and that the contract deliverables are both timely and of the quality expected by the Foundation.