Systems Engineering Analysis (SEA)

What is the SEA?

A project delivery process focused on technology and required per 23 CFR 940 It is also documented and required by the CDOT Project Delivery Manual (PDM) - Section 4.13. Formal announcement of the update to the PDM was in Design Bulletin (DB) 2021-3 It will guide the PM through the technology portion of design to ensure the technology is properly and consistently designed from conceptualization to the retirement of the device or system.

What is considered technology?

The National Regulation (23 CFR 940) defines ITS as “electronics, communications, or information processing used singly or in combination to improve the efficiency or safety of a surface transportation system.” An ITS project is “any project that in whole or in part funds the acquisition of technologies or systems of technologies that provide or significantly contribute to the provision of one or more ITS user services as defined in the National ITS Architecture.”

Technology includes any type of device or system that is used to improve the roadways, this could include, but is not limited to, intelligent transportation systems devices. Examples are CCTV (closed circuit televisions), DMS (dynamic message sign), VTMS (variable toll message sign), VSL (variable speed limit sign), wrong way detection, RWIS, connected vehicles, signals, on board equipment in vehicles, fiber install, device/fiber relocations, and anything that has to be communicated to ATMS. If there is still confusion on what is classified as technology, please reach out to the ITS & Network Services Branch.

Another way to verify if a scope falls within the technology classification is to check the National ITS Architecture Plan. If a project falls within a service packages description, then it is considered a technology. Check out the CDOT Architecture Plan Webpage for more information. 

Why do the SEA? 

  • It is federally required per 23 CFR 940 and federal dollars are tied to completing the SEA. 
  • It creates consistency through using the CDOT ITS Architecture Plan which establishes basic requirements each type of technology system must conform to. 
  • It is a tool to create discussion with all stakeholders, including the ITS & Network Service Branch. 
  • It is a tool for Project Managers (PM's) who are new to technology since it will provide structure to approaching design. 
  • It allows for a structure format to document the technology aspect of a project. 
  • It ensures projects are thoroughly designed to maximize use of tax payer dollars. 
  • It pulls technology related design work and planning up to the design phase.
  • It makes technology related construction activities smoother by better planning in the design phase of a project. 
  • It allows for a better opportunity to plan for asset management and maintenance activities. 

Who is responsible for the SEA? 

The PM is responsible for completing all of the required SEA  documentation. The ITS & Network Services Branch is responsible for supporting the PM in preparing the required SEA documents. The more the ITS & Network Service Branch is involved in the preparation of the required SEA documents, it is more likely that review will be more timely and result in less comments. The ITS & Network Services Branch will conduct the review and approval of each required SEA document. 

When is the SEA prepared? 

The SEA is a project delivery process structured with multiple documents that slowly dive into more detail throughout the entire design phase. The preparation and submittal of these required SEA documents span from pre-scoping (or earlier if possible) to AD. The SEA must be completed for projects with a technology element in order for federal dollars to be released and the project to go to AD. The entire SEA process must be complete in order to complete the Form 1180. If a project does not have a technology element, then only the Technology/SEA Assessment needs to be completed in order to formally document there is no technology elements in the scope. 

How is the SEA completed? 

The SEA will be housed in OnTrack starting September 1st, 2021 and it is preferred that all document submissions occur in OnTrack. Since CDOT is currently in a transition to OnTrack, if a PM is not using OnTrack document submission can be emailed to [email protected]. Reference the SEA Document Submission page for more details. 

How is section 11304 of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), enacted as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Public Law 117058) connected to the SEA process? 

As stated above, the SEA is required per 23 CFR 940 which was last updated in 2002. FHWA recently released the Information Systems Engineering for ITS Projects Memorandum in July of 2022. 

It "directs the Secretary of Transportation to develop guidance for using existing flexibilities with respect to Systems Engineering Analyses described in 23 CFR part 940. The goal is to avoid unnecessary burden on State and local governments, prevent unintentionally imposing requirements exceeding those outlined in law and regulation, and enhance the necessary engagement and collaboration between division staff and their counterparts in State and local agencies with respect to ITS projects."

For more information, please reference the Memorandum. This memo is important because it allows highly routine projects like signals to not need a full SEA process conducted.