The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 49-07 [Active (Synthesis)]

Managing Transportation Research Programs
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 6/1/2017 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Research Agency: CPCS
Principal Investigator: Donald Ludlow
Effective Date: 10/5/2017
Fiscal Year: 2017

Final Scope

Currently, there are few tools or resources available to state DOTs on how to effectively manage state transportation research programs. This study will document transportation research management characteristics, models and resources used by state agencies for process management, program quality and program value. This Synthesis will identify existing resources, desired individual skill sets, core competencies, and structures that are in place for DOTs to manage and conduct transportation research, especially federally-funded research.

The synthesis will seek to identify current practices and lessons learned in the following areas (note this is not an all-inclusive list):

• Department structures – organizational charts, roles and responsibilities (where research fits on the department structure)
• Executive engagement
• Staff characteristics – position descriptions, education levels and areas of study, certifications, range of experience and exemplary characteristics or skill sets
• Oversight and advisory structures – committee roles and responsibilities, external and/or internal review structures, management oversight (both program and project)
• Legal, financial, procurement or other support provided to the research program from within the larger agency
• Funding sources and structures – federal, state, local, university or private
• Performance measures used to evaluate programs
• Use of in-house and contracted services
• Relationship with UTCs and other universities
• involvement with STIC and other innovation initiatives
• Program development
• Implementation and tech transfer processes
• Dissemination

Information will be gathered by literature review and a survey of state DOTs. From the results of the survey, a minimum of 5 state DOTs will be selected and case examples of their practices will be documented. Lessons learned, gaps in information and future research needs will also be covered.

Information Sources ( included but not limited to)
• The California Department of Transportation completed a review as part of the Division of Research, Innovation and System Information (DRISI) Strategic Plan. The plan identified the essential skills and areas of expertise for DRISI, and conducted a gap analysis of existing skills and knowledge against those needed. These skills sets may be universal across agencies, however, this proposed synthesis will build upon additional project management, coordination, outreach, and communications skills not identified in the Caltrans report.
• RAC and CUTC have surveys, fact sheets and other information from member agencies that provide portions of this information with limited scope or range, including peer exchange reports.
• Robust Research Program, Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC. http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/154352.aspx
• Harder, Barbara. 2001. NCHRP Synthesis Report 461: Accelerating Implementation of Transportation Research Results, Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC. http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/171446.aspx
• Sabol, Scott A. 2001. NCHRP Synthesis Report 300: Performance Measures for Research, Development, and Technology Programs, Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC. http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/160917.aspx
• Stone, William. 2014. Research Performance Measures: AASHTO RAC Member Survey, Survey Conducted April 1, 2014 by Missouri Department of Transportation, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, DC. http://research.transportation.org/_layouts/15/AASHTORAC/RACSurveyResultDetail.aspx?SurveyID=250
• Zmud, Johanna et al. 2009. NCHRP Report 610: Communication Matters: Communicating the Value of Transportation Research Guidebook, Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC. https://www.nap.edu/read/14259/chapter/1 

TRB Staff
Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Phone: 202-334-2361

Meeting Dates
First Panel: October 5, 2017, Washington, DC
Teleconference with Consultant: November 6, 2017, 11:00 a.m., EST
Second Panel: June 26, 2018, Irvine, CA

Panel Members
Stuart D. Anderson, Texas A&M University
Rhonda L. Brooks, Washington State DOT
David L. Huft, South Dakota DOT
John M. Mason, Jr., Auburn University
J. Neil Mastin, North Carolina DOT
Ann M. Scholz, New Hampshire DOT
William Stone, Missouri DOT
Jack Jernigan, Federal Highway Administration
James W. Bryant, Jr., Transportation Research Board


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