NCHRP Project 20-68A U. S. Domestic Scan Program is intended to facilitate technology transfer and innovation among state departments of transportation (DOTs) and others through personal contact. A “scan” approach typically entails field visits to observe promising new practices, identify pertinent development and application issues, and assess appropriate technology transfer opportunities and methods. The scan visit focuses on face-to-face discussion of current experience, providing opportunities for a uniquely rich exchange of information that is difficult or impossible to replicate through written materials, telephone conversations, and e-mail correspondence. The scan visits themselves are a productive means for spreading information and innovation, but scan projects typically include efforts to encourage scan-team members to expand the circle of information exchange through preparation and dissemination of a report of each scan, publications in trade and professional journals, and participation in conferences and other peer-to-peer forums. Efforts must be made to assess the effectiveness of scans and post-scan dissemination activities as means for disseminating new concepts and practices and encouraging innovation.
NCHRP Project 20-68(01), a pilot to assist designers of the current Domestic Scan Program, entailed two pilot scans, both completed in CY2007. Reports prepared by the scan teams, on “Transportation Asset Management” and “Right-of-Way Acquisition and Utility Relocation,” were produced and made available to the general public. A report was prepared soon after the scans’ completion, reviewing and evaluating the experience of scan planning and execution. (These reports are available from the pilot project's web page.) The objectives of the current project were to conduct a longer-term review the impacts of domestic scans, to document related changes that have occurred at state transportation agencies in the time since the scans occurred, and to assess the investment in domestic scans as a means for facilitating technology transfer among DOTs. The research entailed a review of scan products and a series of interviews with scan participants. The interviews focused on effectiveness of scan tour process; how participants obtained their knowledge; what they did with that knowledge and when; the kinds of people and organizations they communicated with; specific technologies or practices implemented in home agencies or barriers to successful adoption; methods and modes of tech transfer; and measures used for evaluating the benefit of scan tour participation. Participant interviews included both scan-team members and staff of agencies that hosted or otherwise participated in scan-team visits. This research has been extended as a continuing activity to monitor and evaluate the impacts of the U. S. Domestic Scan program. The research team seeks to obtain tangible evidence of implementation or change attributable to the scans, such as detailed descriptions of process changes, photos, data, and reports.