1. Project Request and Approval
When a municipality has identified a project or expense for which it would like to utilize Chapter 90 funds, the first step is to submit a Project Request to MassDOT. Project Requests are made through an online form that gathers general information about the proposed project, including scope of work, location, cost, and environmental data. The Project Request allows MassDOT to confirm that the proposed project is located on an eligible roadway and that the project components are eligible for the use of Chapter 90 funds.
Chapter 90 Project Requests are submitted online via the Massachusetts Project Intake Tool (MaPIT). After providing all required information in MaPIT, prior to submission the user must print or save their submission as a PDF document so that the appropriate local officials can endorse the request with signatures. The signed document is then attached to the MaPIT Project Request before official submission. Project Requests submitted through MaPIT without this signed documentation will be rejected.
Step-by-step instructions for using MaPIT are available for download. A training video detailing the use of MaPIT for Project Requests can also be found on MassDOT’s YouTube page. For assistance developing cost estimates, municipalities may use the State Aid Reimbursable Programs Cost Estimating Tool.
Once submitted through MaPIT, Project Requests are automatically routed to the appropriate MassDOT District State Aid Engineer for review. The State Aid Engineer will assess the submittal for completeness, ensure that any proposed improvements are located on local roadways, and confirm eligibility of the project components. If necessary, the State Aid Engineer may ask the municipality to provide any missing or additional information.
Project approval generally takes between one and three weeks. Once the Project Request has been approved, the municipality will receive automatic notification of approval through MaPIT. The municipality will also receive a copy of the Project Request document with signatures of approval from the MassDOT State Aid Engineer and District Highway Director. This final step indicates official project approval and work on the project may commence. If the proposed project is deemed ineligible, the State Aid Engineer cannot approve the request and will communicate the approval status with the municipality.
If a project changes substantially in cost or scope after project approval, municipalities must contact their State Aid Engineer to determine whether an amendment or new project request is required.
2. Procurement and Prequalification
Municipalities will often advertise Chapter 90 projects or purchases to solicit bids from firms and vendors who wish to provide services. Depending on the type and estimated value of a project or purchase, several Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L) require that certain procedures be followed. These laws do not just apply to Chapter 90 projects but govern all public construction contracts, construction materials procurement, public works design services, and the procurement of supplies and services. The intent of these regulations is to ensure that the process of selecting a firm or vendor is conducted fairly while avoiding favoritism, unnecessary public spending, or the hiring of unqualified contractors. Generally, all Chapter 90 work is applicable to one of the following:
- G.L. c. 149: Building Construction Contracts
- G.L. c. 30, § 39M, or M.G.L. c. 30B: Public Works (Non-Building) Construction Contracts (with labor)
- G.L. c. 30, § 39M, or M.G.L. c. 30B: Construction Materials Procurements (without labor)
- G.L. c. 7C, §§ 44-58: Design Services for Public Building Contracts: Cities, Towns, Regional School Districts and Horace Mann Charter Schools
- G.L. c. 30B: Procurement of Supplies and Services
For each of these laws and the categories of work pertaining to them, procurement and advertisement procedures vary by total estimated project or purchase cost. In 2018, the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General created charts summarizing procurement requirements for each of the above laws for local officials to more easily determine the public procurement procedures that apply to a particular project or purchase.
Municipalities must consult these charts to determine what advertising rules apply to their Chapter 90 project based on project type and estimated value. The charts also provide important details such as who a contract may be awarded to, whether Prevailing Wage Rates are applicable, and whether using Operational Services Division (OSD) statewide contracts or blanket contracts are an option. These charts also reflect updates corresponding to regulatory changes that became effective on June 15, 2018, pursuant to the passage of Chapter 113 of the Acts of 2018, An Act Providing for Capital Facility Repairs and Improvements for the Commonwealth. Municipalities are solely responsible for adhering to the most recent applicable state regulations.
When a municipality is required to solicit bids pursuant to the laws described above, advertisements are required to be posted in several places, including the Central Register and/or COMMBUYS. The Central Register provides information about state, county and municipal contracts being put out to bid for the design, construction, and reconstruction of public facilities in the Commonwealth. The Central Register is updated on a weekly basis. Central Register advertisements may be submitted online to the Secretary of the State’s Office. The submission deadline is 4:00 p.m. each Thursday for publication the following Wednesday.
When procuring supplies and services, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30B, advertisement in the Goods and Services Bulletin may be required. The Goods and Services Bulletin is a weekly publication containing solicitations for the procurement of commodities and services. Submissions may be submitted online to the Secretary of the State’s Office. The submission deadline is 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday for publication the following Monday.
COMMBUYS, the Commonwealth’s online procurement platform, links awarding authorities in search of products and services with vendors who can provide them. Bid posting, submission, and award, as well as purchase order activity and vendor email notifications, can all be managed through COMMBUYS. Even if not required, municipalities may choose to advertise projects or purchases on COMMBUYS. Postings may be completed online. Any bid solicitation which is required to be advertised in the Central Register or the Goods & Services Bulletin but is placed only on COMMBUYS is illegal and could be subject to a challenge.
Prequalification refers to whether an architectural and engineering firm or a horizontal construction contractor is qualified to perform specific activities. When using Chapter 90 funds, utilizing a prequalified consultant or contractor for the proposed work is often required. The use of prequalified firms and contractors helps assure MassDOT and the municipality that a project is awarded to a qualified bidder. Even when prequalification is not required, the use of prequalification standards is still recommended to ensure minimum capabilities and quality of work for materials or services that include a labor component.
The MassDOT A & E Board is responsible for determining the rules and regulations related to the prequalification of architectural and engineering firms, and routinely prequalifies firms to provide services in various discipline categories. The A & E Board maintains a database of prequalified architectural and engineering firms. Municipalities can use this database to search for firms that are prequalified by MassDOT for a particular discipline. Per Chapter 303 of the Acts of 2008, municipalities must use a prequalified A & E firm if State funds (including Chapter 90 funds) are used to pay for architectural and engineering work, including surveying services.
While the A & E board determines the qualifications of architectural and engineering firms, MassDOT’s Prequalification Unit manages the prequalification of horizontal construction contractors for roadway and bridge projects. The use of a prequalified horizonal construction contractor is required if any of the following criteria apply:
- The project is partially or 100% funded by state funds (such as Chapter 90) and the total project estimate is over $50,000;
- The project includes work on state numbered roads and/or highways, regardless of roadway ownership or project funding source;
- The project requires MassDOT Prequalification as a condition for State Funding Reimbursement; or
- The municipality chooses to require it.
Given that most roadway projects funded through the Chapter 90 Program will exceed $50,000, municipalities are almost always required to use a prequalified horizontal construction contractor for Chapter 90 projects. In instances where a community advertises a project with the intention of using a different funding source but then later decides to utilize Chapter 90 funding, approval of the project is still required by the District State Aid Engineer and the municipality will need to show proof that the project was properly advertised.
Municipalities must consider any prequalification requirements in addition to the procurement requirements described in the previous section. Municipalities are solely responsible for complying with all state regulations, and requirements. Failure to follow correct procedures may result in an inability to obtain funding reimbursement.
When an advertised project requires prequalification, municipalities must request a list of prequalified bidders from MassDOT’s Prequalification Unit. This list contains all firms that are qualified to bid for the class of work and the total project value at the time of bid opening. When applicable, MassDOT will also provide a waiver list, listing firms that are not prequalified for the total project value but have received a waiver to bid after Prequalification Unit review. Waivers must be obtained prior to the opening of the bid.
Once a municipality has determined that their work requires the use of a prequalified firm, several steps must be taken. While the prequalification process as it relates to Chapter 90 is described here, the Prequalification Unit provides information further detailing these steps for all projects requiring prequalification, including all required forms. When a Chapter 90 project requires prequalification, the municipality must submit to the Prequalification Unit the following information:
- City/Town or OAA Prequalification Form
- Engineer’s Bid Estimate Item List
- Detailed Scope of Work
- Approved Chapter 90 Project Request
The City/Town or OAA Prequalification Form provides basic information about the project and its proponent. Both the Prequalification Unit and the State Aid Engineer will review this document. The Engineer’s Bid Estimate Item List provides an estimate for the total value of the project. The Prequalification Unit will use this document to determine the total value of all work to be performed. This list does not need to be completed by an engineer. The Item List is not the same document as the cost estimate provided to MassDOT for Chapter 90 Project Approval. In some cases, the Item List may be quite different. For example, a municipality may receive approval for the use of Chapter 90 funds for a project, but the municipality will solicit bids for additional project components to be funded through a different source. Both the Prequalification Form and Item List are available from the Prequalification Unit.
The Detailed Scope of Work explains the project in its entirety. The Prequalification Unit will use this information to confirm that prequalification is necessary and determine the class of work. Since Chapter 90 projects must already be approved by the State Aid Engineer before submission to the Prequalification Unit and before advertisement, the approved Chapter 90 Project Request must also be provided. If Alternate or Optional Extension contracts are being considered, municipalities must indicate this as well. Finally, if a prequalification list is being requested for work on a state numbered road, a MassDOT Highway Access Permit to perform the work should also be provided.
Once all of the necessary information has been provided to the Prequalification Unit, the Prequalification Form may be approved. The State Aid Engineer will provide the municipality with the approved and signed Prequalification Form, which indicates that the municipality may advertise the project. Upon advertising the project, the municipality must send a copy of the legal advertisement to the Prequalification Unit in order to receive a list of firms that are qualified to bid. If the proposed project changes before being advertised, an addendum may need to be filed with MassDOT first.
Municipalities should not provide firms with their bid documents nor open bids from firms that are not on the list of prequalified contractors. After the bidding window closes, municipalities must send the Prequalification Unit a list of the three lowest bidders using the Apparent 3 Lowest Bidders Form. Upon receiving this form, MassDOT verifies that the listed firms are eligible. Once verified, the municipality may proceed with award.
Firms must renew their prequalification certificates at least every 12 months to remain eligible to bid on projects. Municipalities should not accept copies of a construction firm’s prequalification certification as evidence of their current prequalification status. Municipalities should always refer to MassDOT’s official bidders list and never assume that a contractor has retained its prequalified status.
Consortiums allow municipalities to "team up" with each other to maximize the value of a procurement. Prequalification requirements are still applicable to consortiums, though the process is slightly different. Consortiums must still request a list of prequalified bidders from the MassDOT Prequalification Unit before advertisement by submitting the Prequalification Request Form to the Prequalification Unit. The supporting documents provided along with the form must identify all municipalities that may issue a contract for each class of work as a result of the bidding.
The Prequalification Unit will review the Prequalification Request Form and supporting materials submitted by the consortium. Once approved, the documents are sent to the State Aid Engineer for secondary approval. Then the fully approved and signed Prequalification Form will be returned to the consortium and advertisement may be conducted. If contracts may be issued in more than one MassDOT District, a Prequalification Request Form must be submitted for each District. The State Aid Engineer in each applicable District will approve the Prequalification Form. Municipalities must still submit a Chapter 90 Project Request to receive approval of the project before work commences.
3. Conduct and/or Oversee the Work
While MassDOT is always available for assistance, municipalities are responsible for conducting and/or overseeing the implementation of their Chapter 90 projects. This includes project scheduling, communicating with contractors and stakeholders, ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations, managing invoicing and billing, and ensuring quality control by inspecting all materials and workmanship.
Responsible project management requires creating and maintaining accurate and organized project records and contract files. This is important not only to ensure proper reimbursement for Chapter 90 projects, but also to avoid other problems and ensure the work gets done as agreed upon.
4. Request Reimbursement
Chapter 90 is a reimbursement-based program, which means municipalities are reimbursed for approved costs after expenses are incurred. Municipalities can request reimbursement at any time during project implementation. Some municipalities request reimbursements at various milestones throughout a project, while others prefer to wait until the end of a project to submit one single request. Reimbursements are processed by the State Aid Engineer assigned to the municipality’s MassDOT District. Reimbursements from MassDOT are sent electronically to a municipality’s financial account set up solely for this purpose.
When requesting reimbursement for Chapter 90 expenses, there are various forms that must be completed and submitted to the State Aid Engineer via mail, fax, or email. View the most up-to-date contact information for your State Aid Engineer at the bottom of this page. Some forms may not always be necessary depending on the work performed. All forms should include the municipality’s Chapter 90 contract number and can be downloaded online. Each of these forms are further detailed below:
- Reimbursement Request – Word Document
- List of Materials (HED 454) – Excel Document
- Payroll Form (HED 600) – Excel Document
- Summary of Bids Form – Excel Document
- Final Report – Word Document
The Reimbursement Request collects basic project information, as well as how much money was approved, how much has been spent to date, and how much is currently being requested for reimbursement. This form must be signed by the appropriate municipal staff.
The List of Materials (HED 454) is a detailed list of materials purchased for the project. This must accompany the reimbursement request. The municipal employee completing the form must also sign at the bottom to verify that the purchases are not in conflict with Chapter 779 of the Acts of 1962. The Payroll Form (HED 600) is used to record personnel time on Chapter 90 projects. This form only needs to be used if the municipality is requesting reimbursement for municipal employee labor costs.
When applicable, the municipality will also provide the Summary of Bids Form. In addition to these forms, municipalities will also need to submit invoices or receipts for the costs incurred as applicable. For this reason, it is very important to maintain organized records of work performed or materials purchased during project implementation.
The last reimbursement request for a project should include a Final Report. The Final Report confirms project information as well as the scope of work. It is signed by the appropriate municipal signatories. Submitting the Final Report indicates to MassDOT that this project is complete. As a part of the final reporting requirements, the MassDOT Prequalification Unit requires municipalities to submit a Contractor Evaluation reviewing the performance of a hired contractor. Information and instructions regarding submitting Contractor Evaluations can be found on the Prequalification Unit webpage.
Contact for Implementing a Chapter 90 project
David Stokes, District State Aid Engineer
Christopher Bouchard, State Aid Administrator
James Marine, Assistant Administrator or Michael O'Hara, State Aid Engineer at (857) 368-3226
Karyn Ramshaw, Administrator at (781) 862-1560 or Allison Saffie, Assistant State Aid Administrator
Sean M. Sullivan, State Aid Manager
Bryan Sutherland, District State Aid Engineer, Bryan.P.Sutherland@dot.state.ma.us