State departments of transportation (state DOTs) and other such agencies engage in a wide and evolving range of business activities that require collaboration and access to many types of data and information from among various units within a state DOT and with other public- and private-sector entities and the public. Expectations for collaboration to facilitate multimodal and multidisciplinary decision-making and public engagement are increasing. Collaboration and sharing of information are often essential in the relationships among, for example, the state DOT and others in private and public sectors, such as metropolitan planning organizations, personnel and construction contractors, academia, and other state and federal government agencies.
In each case, however, concerns for the security, integrity, reliability, and timeliness of data and information often motivate agencies to adopt such practices as “zero trust” that make collaboration, information access, and knowledge sharing frustrating and ineffective. Diverse security requirements and lack of mechanisms for accessing information across multiple agencies, for example, can lead to clandestine exchanges of information among practitioners that threaten security.
While lax or ineffective security can have dire consequences, excessively restrictive security that obstructs information exchange can thwart good decision-making, increase workloads by limiting legitimate access to business-critical data, and stimulate public disclosure requests. For state DOTs, the issues of balance between collaboration and information security cut across all modes, jurisdictions, and users. Research is needed to support informed state DOT decision-making about the (a) balance to be achieved between information access and protection and (b) tradeoffs to be made between risks associated with information security and meeting needs for information sharing in collaborative working environments that engage all state DOT stakeholders.
The objective of this research was to describe the organizational motivations for collaboration and develop guidelines for state DOT leadership, staff, and others on effective practices for balancing concerns for collaboration and for information security in support of the state DOT’s evolving business needs.
STATUS: Research is complete; final report is available as NCHRP_Report_1034.