The National Academies

NCHRP 20-121 [Active]

State DOT Contributions to the Study, Investigation, and Interdiction of Human Trafficking

  Project Data
Funds: $299883
Staff Responsibility: Stephan A. Parker
Research Agency: Project Performance Corporation
Principal Investigator: Ms. Chris M.S. Baglin
Effective Date: 5/31/2018
Completion Date: 3/30/2020

Human trafficking can be defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for labor or services through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, commercial sex acts, or slavery. Within the United States, human traffickers are using national, state, and local transportation infrastructure, systems, and modes. 
State DOT staff and technology resources have the potential to assist in efforts to combat human trafficking, aid victims, and support critical decisionmaking. There are several actions that state DOT personnel can take to enhance awareness and use of their resources to supply valuable information that supports anti-human-trafficking efforts. These actions include the following: knowing the signs of human trafficking; collecting actionable information; utilizing existing anti-human-trafficking resources provided by the DHS Blue Campaign, Polaris, and Prajwala; cooperating with requests from internal and external law enforcement for information that can be derived from transportation agency assets or personnel; and investment in, and use of, helpful technologies such as smart video archiving, license plate readers, and toll tag records.  Also, through more strategic efforts to support anti-human-trafficking efforts, state DOTs can support law enforcement in the gathering of and access to relevant information, thereby supporting successful investigations, interdiction, and decisionmaking. A transportation workforce trained to observe and report suspicious behaviors of traffickers and their victims complement “if you see something, say something” campaigns, enhancing community resilience. Opportunities to observe and report include flaggers at work zones, maintenance people at rest areas, toll collectors, or any worker while on their commute or off duty.
Many transportation professionals are not familiar with the problem of human trafficking; and, while some have awareness, their knowledge may be limited to anecdotal experiences. It can be challenging to rally the resources needed to educate employees on the scope of the problem and on the specific steps they can take -- through planning, programming, and daily operations -- to respond appropriately. Research is needed to inform state DOTs interested in developing structured responses to human trafficking that are appropriate to their state and in supporting their employees who may be on the front lines of this criminal activity. 
The objectives of this research are (1) to identify how state DOTs can assist and/or enhance the existing efforts in combatting human trafficking and (2) to develop guidance and a suite of tools that support effective training, policy, and collaboration practices related to mitigating human trafficking.
The target audiences of this research include, but are not limited to:
  • Leadership within state DOTs
  • State DOT field staff
  • Contractors
  • Industry stakeholders
  • Collaborative partners
Accomplishment of the project objectives will require at least the following tasks.
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives.
Phase I
Task 1. Examine current national and international definitions and practices for disrupting the demand side and supply chains of human trafficking, emphasizing the role of transportation. Include linkages to victim assistance resources and appropriate responses, reflecting the perspective and experiences of survivors and victims as relates to utilization of transportation. (See Special Note F.)
Task 2. Examine current mechanisms, practices, data collection efforts, and policies that state DOTs are using to help mitigate human trafficking. Identify practices that are potentially applicable at state DOTs and entities under state control or influence (e.g., fueling stations at travel plazas, employee training, and reporting mechanisms in the private sector). Identify how state DOTs are currently aiding the following activities and conduct a gap analysis to identify opportunities to expand their involvement and further enhance anti-human-trafficking efforts at DOTs across the country:
  • Identifying and reporting victims and traffickers
  • Tracking victims and traffickers in collaboration with enforcement agencies
  • Supporting existing efforts of law enforcement, nonprofits, and other anti-human-trafficking stakeholders
In formulating the research approach and recommended actions, consider potential negative impacts of activities that might harm victims (e.g., re-traumatization of victims by interviewing them) or hinder investigations.
Note: If surveys or interviews are to be used, the survey instrument(s) and sample plan(s) must be reviewed and approved by the NCHRP.
Task 3Identify opportunities for how human trafficking counter-efforts can be incorporated at the programmatic level into existing resources and practices available to state DOTs such as, but not limited to:
  • Relevant standards
  • Training programs
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Standard operating procedures
  • Other widely used guidance (e.g., checklists in standards documents, procurements)
Recognizing constraints on DOT resources, identify anticipated benefits of addressing human trafficking through state DOTs.
Task 4Identify additional research projects and planning activities for potential development in Phase II. Include items that could be completed within the project resources and those that will require additional resources.
Task 5. Prepare an interim report on the findings and conclusions of Tasks 1 through 4. The interim report shall also contain a detailed work plan for Phase II. The research plan shall provide a 2-month period for review and approval of the interim report. An interim meeting of the project panel to discuss the report with the research agency will be required. NCHRP will be responsible for the cost of panel member travel and will provide the meeting facility. For the interim meeting, provide a PowerPoint presentation suitable, upon revision, for posting on the project website. The research agency shall not begin work on the remaining tasks without NCHRP approval.
Phase II
Task 6Carry out the approved Phase II work plan.
Note: Proposals shall address both Phases I and II.
Task 7. Provide a standalone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.”
Task 8Final deliverables for the project should include (a) a final report summarizing the work, (b) a one-page executive summary, (c) an updated interim meeting PowerPoint presentation and speaker notes for posting on the project website, (d) a revised Task 7 implementation technical memorandum as a standalone document, and (e) standalone guidance and a suite of tools including (but not limited to):
  • Long-range planning guidance.
  • A discussion paper for chief executives that summarizes why and how transportation has a unique opportunity and role to play in mitigating human trafficking regarding/related to infrastructure, cross-sector collaboration, and leveraging the knowledge of staff who may regularly encounter victims and traffickers. The discussion paper should include a description of the harm to victims and the negative impacts to society that are enabled by revenue that is derived from this heinous criminal activity.
  • Awareness and training materials that cover all aspects of human trafficking for different stakeholders associated with DOTs, for example:
    • Training modules and presentations,
    • Handout materials for inclusion in existing in-service training, and
    • Materials that can be integrated into emergency management training and special event management training.
Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverables.
A. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
B. The NCHRP is a practical, applied research program that produces implementable products addressing problems faced by transportation practitioners and managers. The benefits of NCHRP research are realized only when the results are implemented in state DOTs and other agencies. Implementation of the research product must be considered throughout the process, from problem statement development to research contract and beyond completion of the research. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," must include the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, and (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in deploying the research product. The project panel will develop and maintain an implementation plan throughout the life of the project. The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_ActiveImplementation.pdf.
C. Item 5 in the proposal, "Qualifications of the Research Team," must include a section labeled "Disclosure." Information relevant to the NCHRP's need to ensure objectivity and to be aware of possible sources of significant financial or organizational conflict of interest in conducting the research must be presented in this section of the proposal. For example, under certain conditions, ownership of the proposing agency, other organizational relationships, or proprietary rights and interests could be perceived as jeopardizing an objective approach to the research effort, and proposers are asked to disclose any such circumstances and to explain how they will be accounted for in this study. If there are no issues related to objectivity, this should be stated.
D. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) the proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises--small firms owned and controlled by minorities or women; and (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's plan for participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 12 of the proposal.
E. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.
F. Useful resources for this project include:
  1. Polaris www.polarisproject.org  
  2. Prajwala www.prajwalaindia.com
  3. TRB Workshop 836 (at the 95th TRB Annual Meeting): Expanding the Scope of Resiliency: Human Trafficking, and Hazardous Materials Concerns http://amonline.trb.org/836-1.3001752?qr=1
  4. DHS Blue Campaign https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/indicators-human-trafficking
  5. Lessons Learned from Super Bowl Preparations: Preventing International Human Trafficking at Major Sporting Events. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human rights, and International Organizations of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. House of Representatives, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, Second Session, January 27, 2014. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-113hhrg86465/html/CHRG-113hhrg86465.htm
  6. US Department of Justice (USDOJ). Human Trafficking https://www.justice.gov/humantrafficking
  7. Iowa DOT http://www.news.iowadot.gov/newsandinfo/2015/10/iowa-motor-vehicle-enforcement-officers-and-truckers-against-trafficking-to-hold-first-ever-quad-sta.html
  8. Minnesota DOT Human trafficking awareness http://www.dot.state.mn.us/humantraffickingawareness/  
  9. Delaware Department of Transportation https://news.delaware.gov/2014/07/07/delaware-fights-human-trafficking/
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reports (below) can be downloaded for free from the National Academies Press website at www.nap.edu
  1. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States: A Guide for the Legal Sector (BCYF, CLAJ) Sponsor: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP/USDOJ)
  2. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States: A Guide for the Health Care Sector (BCYF, CLAJ) Sponsor: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP/USDOJ)
  3. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States: A Guide for Providers of Victim and Support Services (BCYF, CLAJ) Sponsor: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP/USDOJ)
 13.   Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States (BCYF, CLAJ) Sponsor: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP/USDOJ)
Research in progress. An interim report is anticipated in April 2019.

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