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An Architecture Framework Approach for Complex Transport Projects


Transport infrastructure systems are very complex and expensive. Projects to procure such systems are costly, long and complex to manage. The procurement context usually includes many collaborating organizations but often with different concerns and priorities, and many interactions to other parties. This makes the procurement very complex and entangled. DoDAF, MoDAF and TRAK are three architecture frameworks (AF) that model the whole enterprise/system life cycle that includes system procurement. They are expressed as metamodels. In this paper, we analyse various procurements strategies and identify the concerns that AFs should address. The TRAK AF is then applied to a Rail procurement case study in collaboration with Transport for New South Wales (NSW) in Australia to assess its effectiveness in meeting the procurement needs. In all stages of the study, TRAK is mapped and compared to DoDAF and MoDAF to examine whether DoDAF or MoDAF can cover the inadequacies of TRAK. This paper shows that there is a considerable number of procurement needs which are overlooked by these architecture frameworks. It proposes a metamodel driven expansion to these frameworks to improve their completeness and expressiveness.

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Correspondence to Farid Shirvani.

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The original version of this article was revised: Due to reorganization of section leveling.


Appendix A Details of the Procurement Strategies

Construct only (CO) (lump sum or fixed price)

In this commonly used form of contract, the government has full responsibility for the design and documentation and is expected to engage a design team to develop the design documentation that forms part of the tender for the works. The works are for the construction component only (Department of Infrastructure and Planning Queensland Australia 2010). A contractor tenders a price for the works subject to adjustments provided for in the contract (e.g. if there are variations). Irrespective of the actual cost of the works, the contractor will be entitled to be paid the contract sum, as agreed between the parties prior to commencing the works. However, history has shown that in practice, if not properly planned and managed, the construct-only contract often exceeds the original contract sum (Government of Western Australia 2016). For an AF to be used in this situation, these two areas need to be adequately covered:

  • The AF thus needs to be able to articulate and/or reference the physical design of the system and the manner in which the components will be tested for acceptance.

  • The AF needs to be able to capture the outcomes from any acceptance testing that is undertaken.

Design and construct (DC)

In this model, the acquiring organisation often develops a requirement specification, an operations concept, and a test concept. These are used to convey how the system is to be used in a variety of use cases, the requirements of the delivered system and how the system will be tested to meet them. For an AF to be used in this situation, these three areas need to be adequately covered:

  • Upon delivery, the contractor has to provide supporting information on how the system is designed and operates.

  • The contractor has to provide the outcomes of any tests performed during the design and build phases of the contract.

  • A series of acceptance tests will then be performed to evaluate the system’s ability to deliver the desired functions and performance.

Design, Construct and Maintain (DCM)

In this model, the Contractor has ongoing maintenance obligations in addition to design and construction. Lifecycle costs can be reduced if the Contractor takes into account ongoing maintenance obligations when designing and constructing the facility (Australia Department of Treasury and Finance 2017). The features of this model are similar to the DC model but with the added transfer of lifecycle risk to the Contractor encouraging design efficiency and quality construction and finishes to reduce long term costs. Therefore, the AF needs to support the same representations as Design and Construct but in addition there is the need to add the maintenance aspects to be supported. This includes costing and maintenance plans for the system.

Public Private Partnership (PPP)

A public private partnership is a service contract between the public and private sectors. Typically, in a PPP delivery model, a concession makes the private sector operator (concessionaire) responsible for the full delivery of services in a specified area including operation, maintenance, collection, management, construction and rehabilitation of the system. Importantly, the operator becomes responsible for all capital investment and providing the assets. However, all assets are publicly owned even during the concession period. The public sector is responsible for establishing performance standards and ensuring that the concessionaire meets them. In essence, the public sector’s role shifts from being the service provider to regulating the price and quality of service (Department of Infrastructure and Transport 2012) (Infrastructure UK 2013). One of the most common arguments used to promote PPPs is that the public sector will attain value for money by transferring the optimal amount of risk to the consortium. The level of risk can be changed by allocating responsibility for individual risks to those who are best able to manage them. As with everything else related to PPPs, the process of effective risk transfer is complex, costly and controversial (Aspin 2004).

In order to show that PPPs are providing VFM governments will often release VFM reports that compare the costs of delivering the project publicly versus a PPP (Opara and Rouse 2019). VFM reports compare the PPP’s costs with a hypothetical model of how much the project would cost if it were pursued through public procurement. This model is called the public sector comparator. The PSC and VFM are the main fundamentals of bid evaluation (Committee of Public Accounts London 2003). The one risk that the private sector cannot take on is statutory risk (Audit Commission 2014). This means that no matter what, the public sector is ultimately responsible for the provision of the infrastructure and related services being provided by a PPP. So, even in the cases where the risk of operation and revenue generation is transferred to the private sector, the principal is responsible for providing affordable services, therefore having a mechanism for estimating the costs and revenues accurately is vital for the public sector (Vining and Boardman 2006).

According to aforementioned the AF should be able to structure the performance standards and relate them to required services to officially determine the service quality. Also, the AF has to provide the means for defining project risks and their allocation to the bearing organization. Moreover, the financial modelling aspects including PSC and VFM and also modelling the costs and revenues of the project have to be supported by the AF.

Alliance Contracting (AC)

In the Alliance Contracting (AC) method, the government collaborates with one or more non-owner parties (e.g. a designer and constructor) to share the risks and responsibilities in delivering the construction phase of a project. All project delivery risks are shared by the alliance participants. The alliance contract and supporting structures promote a positive culture based on “no-fault, no blame” and unanimous decision-making, and requiring all participants to find “best for project” solutions. Because the behavioural culture is crucial to the success of alliancing, the selection of the right participants is paramount (Department of Infrastructure and Planning Queensland Australia 2010). The non-owner parties are typically guaranteed reimbursement of their direct project costs and payment of corporate project overheads in an open-book arrangement. Targets for cost, schedule and other key parameters are developed jointly during the pre-construction phase. If actual delivery is better than the agreed targets, all parties share the reward (“gain share”). Conversely, if delivery does not meet agreed targets, the pre-agreed “pain share” formula applies (Government of Western Australia 2016). The AC method caters for partnerships between the Government and Private Parties. In terms of its procurement requirements, AC can be considered as a specific form of Public Private Partnerships (since the basic concepts such as risk and revenue sharing are the same).

Construction management (CM)

In the construction management approach, the principal engages a construction manager (contractor or consultant). The principal manages the project scoping and engages the designer directly. The principal also engages the trade contractors directly, although these contracts are entered into by the construction manager as the principal’s agent. The construction manager performs a managerial and coordination role (without delivery risk) and is generally paid a fee based on a percentage of the value of the works. This form of contract inherently has a hierarchical structure with relationships between the organizations in different hierarchy levels. Consequently, the organizational interconnectivity and responsibility of them has to be transparently defined and therefore should be supported by the AF.

Procurement Needs to Be Supported by AFs

From the above examination of the various procurement models, fourteen elements have to be depicted to support the various procurement processes and scenarios. Table 6 lists representational requirements that have to be depicted mapped against the acquisition strategy that requires the information. Both AC and PPP require most information to be depicted. This is not surprising as the partnership requires disclosure of almost all information between the various enterprises. Interestingly, the other five contract types require similar areas of information. Table 4 indicates how those requirements are addressed by the Viewpoints of discussed AFs.

Table 6 Required depictions mapped to transport procurement strategies

Appendix References

Aspin, R. (2004). Public-Private Partnerships and Effective Risk Management for Local Government. Paper presented at the 19th EAROPH World Planning and Housing Congress & Australian National Housing Conference

Audit Commission. (2014). PFI in Schools. Retrieved from http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/reports/AC-REPORT.asp?CatID=PRESSCENTRE&ProdID=D7701D4F-C130-4BA6-B10D-6D0644BDAA98&fromPRESS=AC-REPORT

Australia Department of Treasury and Finance. (2017). Procurement strategy guideline. 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne, 3002: Victorian Government Retrieved from www.dtf.vic.gov.au

Committee of Public Accounts London. (2003). Delivering Better Value for Money from the Private Finance Initiative. Retrieved from London: The Stationery Office Ltd.:

Department of Infrastructure and Planning Queensland Australia. (2010). Project assurance framework: Procurement options analysis. (ISBN: 978–0–9,805,449-5-4). 100 George Street, Brisbane Qld 4000: Queensland Government

Department of Infrastructure and Transport. (2012). Infrastructure Planning and Delivery: Best Practice Case Studies Volume 2. (ISBN 978–1–921,769-55-9). Department of Infrastructure and Transport

Government of Western Australia. (2016). Infrastructur Procurement Options Guide. Center for Excellence and Innovation in Infrastructure Delivery: Government of Western Australia

Infrastructure UK. (2013). Infrastructure procurement routemap: a guide to improving delivery capability. (ISBN 978–1–909,096-56-1)

Opara, M., & Rouse, P. J. C. P. o. A. (2019). The perceived efficacy of public-private partnerships: A study from Canada. 58, 77–99

R.Vining, A., & Boardman, A. E. (2006). Public-Private Partnerships in Canada: Theory and Evidence. UBC P3 Project

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Shirvani, F., Beydoun, G., Perez, P. et al. An Architecture Framework Approach for Complex Transport Projects. Inf Syst Front (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10796-019-09978-y

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  • Architecture frameworks
  • System of systems
  • Systems analysis
  • Procurement
  • Complex transport systems
  • Architecture modelling