Could “competition” make PA a ‘one’ curriculum motorcyclist training Program?

In 2013, after nearly 3 decades running PAMSP as the Program administration company, MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) was displaced by PennDOT.

MSF was replaced by Cape Fox Professional Services (CPFS) who took over PAMSP Program Administration after winning the 2013 RFP, keeping the existing MSF curriculum in place as it had been for the 28 years prior.

The CPFS contract decision was a disastrous one for PAMSP leading to massive Instructor attrition and many Program administration issues leaving PAMSP in shambles by 2017.

In 2017 a new RFP was launched, 3516R09, and was awarded to Total Control Training of California (TCTI), beating out the incumbent, CPFS. MSF, the previous incumbent Administration Company, had declined to participate in the 2017 RFP.

In winning the 2017 RFP TCTI would assume PAMSP program administration responsibilities as well as bring a new curricula, the Total Control curricula, to Pennsylvania. The curricula change would be the first in the history of PAMSP.

The 2017 TCTI contract award was for 5 years and followed the same format as prior contracts – a single 3rd party Program administration company which would run PAMSP and a single commonwealth-wide curriculum, a non-MSF curriculum.

Some Instructors having taught the MSF curriculum for decades made the loss of Instructors under Cape Fox even worse when they declined to teach the new Total Control curriculum, leading to additional Instructor attrition and damaging the Program even further.

PennDOT forced a curriculum change in 2017:

What many RiderCoaches did not understand at the time was that they were to be mandated by PennDOT, as part of the 2017 RFP 3516R09, to be trained in a new curriculum – the MSF “BRCu” (Basic RiderCourse Update) or another curriculum, in this case Total Control’s TCBRC (Beginner Riding Clinic).

As per page 29 of the 2017 RFP:
“By the beginning of the 2020 riding season, the selected Offeror must implement the MSF Basic Rider Course-Updated version or another curriculum acceptable to PennDOT.”

After teaching the existing MSF BRC in its “2013” version PennDOT was leveraging the RFP to mandate a curriculum change. The curriculum change was to be completely managed by the incoming Program administrator, in this case TCTI.

The biggest issue facing the start of the 2018 season? That TCTI would start with almost no Instructors and only 4 months until the beginning of novice motorcyclist training classes across PA.

In 2020, with over 300 certified Instructors ready for the season, TCTI & PAMSP had projections to teach ~17,000 students across all but 3 PA counties and an ongoing project to ensure all PA counties had training coverage in process for a 2020 delivery. That was until, in April 2020, PennDOT canceled the 2017 contract, terminating TCTI and all PAMSP employees and stopping all training.

Unintended consequences, 2021:

After the cancellation of the 2017 contract in 2020 PennDOT developed a new contract for the end of 2020 (3520R01) as well as another for 2021 (3520R02) and beyond. As part of these RFP PennDOT implemented a new contract format called a “3rd party” model.

In this model, any vendor, from any location, using any curriculum could bid – on a site by site basis – to train PA Motorcyclists. This was a complete change from contracts in the past.

The contract duration was also changed from 5 years to 2 years, with up to 3 optional years being awarded at PennDOT’s discretion in 1-year increments.

It has been reported that PennDOT changed the model to bring “competition” to PAMSP. While this may not be clearly defined it may have an unintended consequence:
Making PA an “all” (majoritively) MSF Commonwealth again.

How could PA become “all” one vendor again?

To be clear the goal of this post isn’t to make a statement on any particular curricula being better than another – it’s to review past practices, future practices, goals, possible outcomes and potential impacts on PAMSP.

While there are not many large motorcyclist training firms that may bid on all PA sites the most prevalent motorcyclist training curriculum in use today is from the MSF.

The new “3rd party” model enables motorcyclist training companies of any size to potentially teach at PA sites. What do most motorcyclist training firms of any size generally teach? The MSF curriculum.

PennDOT’s actions in unceremoniously ending Total Control’s contract years before its natural conclusion and creating a new 3rd party model may lead to more MSF-certified training companies bidding on sites, thereby increasing the MSF footprint in the Commonwealth, displacing minority curriculum, such as Total Control.

To our knowledge, MSF has not directly bid on a PAMSP contract RFP to completion since 2013, and there have been (3) RFP issued since that time.

Keep in mind, per Title 75, PennDOT is the sole arbiter of PAMSP contract awards. If 10 vendors bid on sites and 9 of those are MSF curriculum-based companies it is quite possible that while PA won’t be become an “all” MSF state it could certainly become majority or nearly totally MSF.

Additionally the new contract format provides PennDOT a way to remove minority vendors from the Program in 2 year intervals as needed, and replace existing vendors with others teaching a common curricula.

While the “3rd party” model could become ‘competitive’ at an administrative level (for PennDOT) it could become increasingly anti-competitive at a curriculum level.

Intended or unintended consequences?

With the publication of the 2021 RFP (3520R02) PennDOT is making Program Management more difficult, adding more layers, encouraging silos of vendors/sites/curriculum/Instructors, creating competitive tensions, logistical issues, etc.

The new contract model can lead to a lower number of sites as only those areas seen as having enough demand will attract vendors. It will also lead to Instructor attrition and a lack of cross-training in multiple curricula. This leads to a lower number of classes offered, a lower number of classes available for students to schedule, and continued dissatisfaction with the Program by the riding public. This is contrary to the “stated” goal of PennDOT’s contract request – to address the need for motorcycle training classes to reduce the incidents of injury or deaths from [single vehicle] motorcycle crashes.

The impact of all of these changes is impossible to accurately forecast but in this case perhaps it will yield something else:
A single majority curriculum (MSF) used across Pennsylvania’s PAMSP without the immediate need for a single company to provide it.

Since 1985 PAMSP has had a single Commonwealth-wide curriculum. If PAMSP desired a single curriculum they could have easily mandated this, as California and other States do, even with multiple [independent] training providers running classes within PA.

If competition is truly desired is it strictly for training providers or curricula as well? These are unknowns as they have never clearly been stated.

Will PA again become a majority “MSF” PAMSP State?
Only time will tell – and with the 2021 bid awards due after 9/17/2020 we’ll have additional information with which to consider that possibility.

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