What contractors need to know about IIJA’s construction tech carve-outs

Two funding efforts in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act want to push construction into the digital age. 

The Advanced Digital Construction Management Systems initiative and the Technology and Innovation Deployment Program will provide a total of $550 million to promote the use of construction tech on government funded jobs. 

While they are similar, there are key differences that contractors should know about. 

ADCMS vs. TIDP

ADCMS and the TIDP are both managed by the Federal Highway Administration, but experts say they target unique aspects of construction.

ADCMS is a relatively new program created through the IIJA to boost construction technology such as BIM, 2D and 3D modeling and more. It offers $100 million over five years, at a disbursement rate of about $20 million per year. While the funding path hasn’t been set yet, contractors can probably expect to see money funneled to states first, and then to contractors on infrastructure jobs.

ADCMS is a part of the larger TIDP program, which is much more broad. 

TIDP covers a swath of research and development and other efforts related to highways and transportation, such as $12 million per year for researching pavement technology. TIDP was established in 2013 and was continued through the FAST Act

Now, it’s gained new life through the IIJA to the tune of $550 million over five years, at $110 million per year. ADCMS funding comes from this larger pot. 

“The reason Congress put in a provision for ADCMS is because they understand how critical it is that innovation can help us deliver those funds in a really effective way,” said Si Katara, president and co-founder of digital inspection company HeadLight and member of the Coalition for Smarter Infrastructure Investments. 

What contractors need to know

The two programs will cater to different contractors and builders, depending on the projects and the type of work they do, according to Susan Lent, a partner at Washington, D.C.-based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP law firm who focuses on transportation and infrastructure.

Lent explained that ADCMS is a narrower focus area of the overall TIDP, in that it aims to advance construction technology on infrastructure projects.

TIDP, as a broader funding mechanism with more programs alongside the ADCM system, can be applied to a variety of tasks such as planning, financing operations and environmental reviews.

“[The FHWA] has a lot of discretion under the TIDP program on how it spends the funds,” Lent said.

David Lieberman, the director of U.S. government relations for software company Bentley Systems, agreed, but also warned that because the Notice of Funding Opportunity for ADCMS hasn’t been released yet by the FHWA, nothing is truly set in stone. 

“We’re going to get a much better understanding of what it will fund when the NOFO is out,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman said that ADCMS would likely fund BIM and modeling software, but also digital construction management software that handle things like scheduling and payments.

By contrast, some of the other programs in the TIDP, such as the Accelerated Innovation Deployment Demonstration program, recently disbursed funding to seven states working on different projects, according to a press release

  • Alabama, for example, will adopt a program that will help a road reopen after a 2020 mudslide by identifying sub-surface risks. 
  • Arizona will use Composite Arch Bridge System technology, a lightweight system that acts as reinforcement for cast-in-place concrete, for the first time to build a durable bridge crossing. 
  • Utah will leverage 3D modeling software, drones and more to improve project delivery with program funding, according to the release.

As the funding trickles out to the states and jobs get put out to bid, Lent says that it’s up to the contractors to find which ones may be the best for them.

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