Developing Input to “Best-Value” Vehicle Procurement Practice: An Analysis of Supplier Evaluation and Selection in the U.S. Public Transportation Industry
Scott, Marc Angus
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Collectively, US public transportation systems operated 137,047 vehicles per peak period in 2008 (American Public Transportation Association 2010). Buses accounted for the largest segment among these vehicles, and the passenger van segment was second. Together, they accounted for 78% of the vehicles operated per peak period (American Public Transportation Association 2010). Due to their pervasive use in the public transportation industry, buses and vans have been the focus in various academic research studies. However, very few studies have focused on vehicle procurement. Further, none have focused on the specific vehicle procurement function of supplier evaluation and selection. The over-arching objective of this research is to gain a deeper understanding of the relative importance of vehicle supplier attributes in reference to the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) “best-value” procurement initiative and the influence of these attributes on the evaluation and selction of bus and van suppliers. This research studies vehicle procurement decision-makers at public transportation agencies to determine which supplier attributes they perceive to be the most important when evaluating vehicle suppliers. Results indicate that the top five supplier attributes were quality, reliability, after-sales support, warranties and claims, and integrity. The order of these top five attributes changed according to the type of supplier being evaluated, i.e., conventional fuel vehicle supplier versus alternative fuel vehicle supplier. The reason for this change was explained as being due to the increased engineering and technological expertise required of alternative fuel vehicle suppliers. Utilizing Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA), the research showed that the variation in the perception of the importance of particular supplier attributes was not generally influenced by an agency's urban classification, its vehicle fleet size, its capital expenditure level, its decision-makers' education level, or their years of experience. However, FTA region was determined to have an influence on two attributes. Utilizing a conditional logit discrete choice model, the research also found that in practice price and not quality had the highest parameter estimate and was therefore deemed most important. It was followed by quality, after-sales support, technical capability, and delivery. Further, to garner a deeper understanding of attributes' relative importance, participants in the research identified 41 attribute components and provided metrics by which to measure these components and, by extension, the attributes. This research contributes in four areas. These are government procurement initiatives, agency “best-value” procurement practice, vehicle supplier marketing, and academic research in supplier evaluation and selection in the public transportation industry.