Public Interest Findings / Certifications are a tool to be used to demonstrate the need for a product takes precedence over the benefit derived from the need for competitive bidding. Justification demonstrating this need is required prior to specifying a product for use on a Project. Justification for need is defined in one of four ways; Certification for Synchronization, Certification of Proprietary Products, Public Interest Finding (PIF) for Proprietary Products, and Public Interest Finding (PIF) for State Furnished Item(s).
A project may require all, some, or none of these depending on those construction items specified and methods used. All requests require sufficient justification to determine if it is in the public’s best interest to incorporate the item(s) into a project. In cases where federal funding will be utilized on a project, Buy America requirements will need to be met. The following outlines the features of each certification / justification, use-case examples, and specific considerations.
Justification for need - project requests
Note: all requests should be submitted as a signed PDF to the Special Provisions Engineer.
For synchronization (consistency) with inplace or future roadway features based on maintenance, inventory, or defined corridor aesthetics (i.e. city lighting, city utilities, etc.). Note: For projects where cities are requesting incorporation, project managers should attach city request to Project request.
For use when only one product / material will work due to technical reasoning (i.e. MnPASS transponders, adjustable components for structural snow fence, etc.).
For use when multiple products are available but choosing one for specific reasoning (i.e. specific impact attenuator for ease of maintenance and increased worker safety during repair).
for use when supplying the contractor with products or materials to complete their work on a project (i.e. early bridge steel, TMS cabinets, etc.). NOTE: For projects that are furnishing project-specific features (bridge steel, etc.), the NEPA process and documentation must be complete prior to PIF request and subsequent contract or purchase. If federal reimbursement is desired for state-furnished items, then a separate memo requesting reimbursement for those items must be submitted at the same time as the PIF request.
Other general items for consideration regarding PIFs and Certifications
- Requests for Certification for Synchronization from local authorities to the project manager will need to be in the form of a memo or official email and included with request.
- Projects with temporary work requiring the use of specific items will require a PIF.
- MnDOT is able to certify products on a statewide basis if it meets the requirements listed above and is not simply out of convenience.
- A PIF/Certification is not needed if two or more items are listed as alternatives.
- Defining products based on a specification that only one product has the ability to meet will require a PIF. Justification will be needed to determine that specifications are valid and not too restrictive.
- The need for PIFs and Certifications are relevant regardless of funding (local, state, or federal).
- State Furnished Items are eligible for federal reimbursement when installed on subsequent contract, not at time of purchase.