In most state departments of transportation (DOTs), about 40% of the workforce will be eligible for retirement within a few years, taking with them significant institutional knowledge. Collaboration and interdisciplinary work are also increasing the need for effective, efficient, and timely knowledge transfer. State DOTs and other transportation agencies could benefit from knowledge management (KM) techniques and practices to help identify, capture, and transfer institutional knowledge and support continuous learning.
KM continues to evolve, particularly in the understanding of factors such as cognitive science, learning cultures, and knowledge risk. Some research has been conducted on KM and institutional knowledge in the transportation sector, but KM is still a new practice in that context. In NCHRP Report 813: A Guide to Agency-Wide Knowledge Management for State Departments of Transportation, guidelines on the fundamentals of agency-wide KM for state DOTs are provided. There are also numerous examples from outside the transportation sector on how to start building a KM function within an organization. However, a prioritized program of research (hereafter, research roadmap) on KM specifically for state DOTs has not been developed and hence would be timely, since research roadmaps for transportation practices far more mature than KM have been developed. Ultimately, such a roadmap could identify and prioritize the KM needs of transportation agencies and provide the foundation for maturation of the KM practice.
The objective of this research is to develop a research roadmap for knowledge management in state DOTs and other transportation agencies. The roadmap shall be designed to systematically revisit research priorities to guide research and ensure its future relevancy. The roadmap shall include, but not be limited to, the following elements:
Description of research that should be conducted within the next 5 years
10 or more research problem statements suitable for submittal to NCHRP
Identification of relevant, active, and completed research that could benefit from a focused implementation effort
Prioritization of all research recommendations
Accomplishment of the project objective 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 objective. 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 objective.
Task 1. Review literature and identify stakeholders.
Task 1a. Review literature, research in progress, and research needs data to identify completed and active KM research and remaining research questions and gaps. Both domestic and international resources shall be consulted and include resources within and external to the transportation sector. Conduct analysis to identify research gaps and guide the design of the research roadmap and development of research problem statements.
Task 1b. Identify stakeholders to be engaged in Task 2 and develop a stakeholder engagement plan. The rationale for stakeholder selection shall be provided along with an interview guide describing the objectives of the interview and the questions to support those objectives. Stakeholders may include representatives from public, private, and academic organizations within and external to the transportation sector. Both KM practitioners and end-users within these organizations shall be included in the consultations. Interviews are anticipated to help inform (a) the current state of KM practices; (b) current KM best practices; (c) opportunities for implementing KM; (d) existing constraints to implementing KM; (e) stakeholder research priorities; (f) feedback on useful KM research products; and (g) next steps for KM implementation.
Submit a technical memorandum covering the findings of Tasks 1a and 1b for NCHRP review. Present findings to NCHRP at an online meeting. NCHRP approval is required before work on Task 2 may begin.
Task 2. Engage KM stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement shall be based on the interview guide developed in Task 1b. Summarize the findings of the stakeholder engagement. Submit a technical memorandum covering the findings of Task 2 for NCHRP review.
Task 3. Develop a conceptual roadmap structure. Critical elements shall include (a) a description of research topics and activities that will help state and other transportation agencies optimize knowledge retention, sharing, and development; (b) implementation-ready, nearly implementation-ready, and short- and long-term research; (c) research that may be prerequisite for additional research; (d) relevance of and relationship to ongoing research; and (e) criteria to prioritize research activities.
Task 4. Submit an interim report and obtain feedback on conceptual framework structure.
Task 4a. Submit an interim report summarizing the findings from Tasks 1-3. Present findings to NCHRP at an interim meeting.
Task 4b. Hold a webinar for key transportation stakeholders to provide feedback on the conceptual roadmap structure. Document feedback and review with panel in a follow-up meeting, including proposed revisions to the interim report and communication plan for NCHRP approval. Incorporate stakeholder feedback into interim report and communication plan (see Task 5b).
NCHRP approval of the interim report, which is to include stakeholder feedback from Task 4b, is required before work on Task 5 may begin.
Task 5. Develop a research roadmap and follow-up plans.
Task 5a. Develop a research roadmap and research problem statements. The format for research problem statements will be provided; it is expected that problem statements will be formatted for submittal to NCHRP and the TRB Research Needs database. The roadmap should cover (a) research that should be conducted within the next 5 years; (b) 10 or more problem statements on topics suitable for submittal to NCHRP and the TRB Research Needs database; (c) relevant, active, and completed research that could benefit from a focused implementation effort; (d) implementation plans; and (e) prioritization of all research recommendations.
Task 5b. Develop a communication plan. Develop an outreach plan for distribution of the research roadmap and other products to key transportation organizations, especially those previously involved in stakeholder engagement in Task 2. The goal of the plan is to explain (a) the roadmap to potential users and why it is important to transportation agencies; and (b) how users will be able to implement the results of the research in the roadmap to improve KM. Innovative means of disseminating the plan should be considered; at a minimum, the plan should be accompanied by a list of AASHTO and TRB committees and conferences to which the plan is pertinent and outreach materials that others could use to make presentations.
Task 5c. Develop a roadmap management plan. Develop a plan to enable use of the research roadmap, maintain currency of the roadmap through periodic revisions, and identify stakeholders who could take ownership of the plan. Recommend a limited set of research need statements from the nearly implementation-ready and short-term list identified in Task 5a that should be submitted to NCHRP's next funding approval cycle.
Submit a technical memorandum covering the findings of Tasks 5a, 5b, and 5c for NCHRP review. Present findings to NCHRP at an online meeting. NCHRP approval is required before work on Task 6 may begin.
Task 6. Submit final report and project deliverables. Besides the final report, project deliverables shall include the research roadmap, the communications and roadmap management plans, related outreach materials, and the research problem statements identified in Task 5c.
Status: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.