Highlighting METRO’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation

As an architect, do you have some innovative ideas for how to increase connectivity, mobility and access for all Angelos? If so, you may want to learn more about METRO’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation and their Unsolicited Proposal process.

The Office of Extraordinary Innovation (OEI) was established to explore “leading-edge” ideas that will improve mobility for people in the Los Angeles region. The OEI is tasked with identifying, evaluating, developing and implementing these new ideas whether with METRO directly or with collaborative partnerships. One of the ways they attract these partnerships is through an open-call Unsolicited Proposal (UP) process.

We reached our to METRO’s Chief Innovation Officer, Joshua L. Schank, to learn more about the UP process to date.

The OEI’s unsolicited RFP process has been recognized as a leading example for progressive procurement/ project-delivery. Tell us more about it’s objectives:

"As the Office of Extraordinary Innovation (OEI), we have an Unsolicited Proposal (UP) process that is definitely cutting edge and several other public agencies have shown an interest in emulating it. Together with our Vendor/Contract Management (V/CM) department and the rest of Metro we have fostered significant innovations in the procurement process. However, the UP process is not an RFP process. It can potentially lead to an RFP, but the UP process is a way for the private sector to submit their ideas and have them fairly considered. If Metro decides to move forward with an idea, the eventual outcome is likely to be an RFP."

What were the original steps required to implement the process?

The UP process began with a new UP Policy, which can be seen on the Metro website. We released that new policy at an Industry Forum in February 2016. Hundreds of industry leaders attended the Forum, which Metro hosted, and learned about the new policy and our interest in seeking ideas from the private sector. After the Forum we began to receive numerous UPs. Each UP requires a review team composed of people from multiple departments across Metro. A second critical step was establishing these reviews as a priority in order to ensure timely review.

How many unsolicited RFP’s have you received?


How many have you selected? We do not “select” UPs but if successful they may proceed to RFP. So far 12 have made it that far. And/or presently further considering? 24 are still under some stage of review

How many projects (if any), among the selected, are in “production”?

12 are in some stage of production

With your selection criteria in mind, what are the projects that most likely to capture METRO’s interest?

The most successful ideas are those that have tried to address a real need Metro currently has. We encourage people to come forward with their ideas before submitting a UP so that we can give appropriate feedback. We are also planning to issue a series of challenge statements to the private sector to help focus ideas on critical issues for Metro so stay tuned.

What’s the budget threshold (or range) for the selected projects?

We have received ideas for projects with budgets between $0 and $10 billion. Almost anything we do is on the table!

Any other relevant information?

To clarify these proposals are not just about infrastructure. In fact only 11 of them have been for major capital projects – others are in technology, environmental sustainability, financing, data analytics, fare payment, and more!

Joshua L. Schank - Chief Innovation Officer, Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Joshua L. Schank is the first ever Chief Innovation Officer at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), where he leads the Office of Extraordinary Innovation (OEI). The role of this office is to champion new ideas to improve mobility in LA County by informing the high-level vision for LA Metro, piloting and implementing new and experimental programs and policy, and serving as the primary liaison for new ideas relevant to LA Metro coming from entrepreneurs, established private sector entities, academia, or individual residents. The office is also responsible for LA Metro’s Public Private Partnership (P3), and strategic planning functions.

Prior to joining LA Metro, Dr. Schank was President and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, a national non-profit think-tank with the mission of improving transportation policy and leadership. Before joining Eno, he directed the National Transportation Policy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, which proposed a new vision for the Federal role in surface transportation policy.

Dr. Schank was Transportation Policy Advisor to Senator Hillary Clinton during the development of the last surface transportation authorization bill (SAFETEA-LU). He has also worked as a Consultant with PB Consult and Senior Associate at ICF International in Washington, D.C., as well as serving in positions at the Office of the Inspector General’s in the U.S. Department of Transportation, and with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City.

Dr. Schank’s extensive work in transportation policy and planning is well documented in his publications, including “All Roads Lead to Congress: The $300 Billion Fight Over Highway Funding,” co-authored with Costas Panagopoulos and published by CQ Press in 2007. He holds a Ph.D. in urban planning from Columbia University, a Master of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B.A. in urban studies from Columbia University.

He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Lindsey and his sons Max and Jonah.
Last updated: 29-May-2018 12:43 PM
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