Knowledge management (KM) practices, related to the identification, sharing, and retention of employee know-how and expertise within an organization, are important to improve operational efficiency, workforce development, organizational resilience, and innovation. While state departments of transportation (DOTs) recognize this importance, their KM practices are often in various stages of maturity (as determined by using the American Productivity & Quality Center’s Knowledge Management Capability Assessment Tool or the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Committee on Knowledge Management KM Litmus test). In comparison to organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense and private sector companies, KM remains an emergent topic in state DOTs. Many state DOTs struggle when asked by decision-makers to provide examples of KM practices and their benefits, and to define KM as a presence within their respective organizations.
NCHRP Report 813: A Guide to Agency-Wide Knowledge Management for State Departments of Transportation (2015) and NCHRP Project 20-68A, Scan 12-04 Report, Advances in Transportation Agency Knowledge Management (2014) framed core concepts of KM to help accelerate the adoption, acceptance, and integration of KM within state DOTs. Since the publication of the two NCHRP reports, AASHTO formed the Committee on Knowledge Management (CKM) and many members have referenced these works in the development of their KM practices. The CKM surveys its members biannually about KM priorities and practices in use, and survey respondents frequently cite concerns about employee retention and knowledge loss due to retirements, transfers, and departures for different positions, as well as the need for succession planning and on-boarding new employees. Subsequently, state DOTs are seeing the need for KM and to treat knowledge and human capital as an asset. Early adopter state DOTs have begun to pilot and integrate KM practices, which has resulted in the current need to capture these practices to help improve agency efficiency, performance, resilience, and innovation.
State DOT adoption of KM has parallels to the adoption of other new practices for transportation. For example, transportation asset management (TAM), which began in the 1990s, began with a period of outreach and early adopter agencies testing strategies. Following this, examples of implementation were developed to provide other DOTs insight into potential uses and methods for development. This led to further adoption, acceptance, and integration of TAM practice. To complement the research results from NCHRP Report 813 and NCHRP Project 20-68A, Scan 12-04 Report, and to address the concerns raised in the CKM surveys, research is needed to develop a set of products that can be utilized by state DOTs to implement KM activities. The NCHRP reports and the CKM both emphasize that development of the products from this project will be helpful to those just getting started and those further along the KM journey. In addition, these products will strengthen the community of practice by presenting examples of tangible state DOT efforts on KM.
The objective of this project is to develop a set of products to support the implementation of KM in state DOTs, by using the materials established by NCHRP Report 813, NCHRP Project 20-68A, Scan 12-04 Report, and a case study template developed by CKM. The products developed will be posted to the NCHRP Project 20-44(45) website and made broadly accessible.
To realize the objective, the research plan shall describe appropriate tasks and deliverables that include, but are not limited to, the following.
1. A survey of state DOTS. Based on the survey's results and the panel’s input, identify up to five participating states that represent all of the AASHTO regions, and have a variety of KM program sizes and maturity levels.
2. Up to five case studies. Using the CKM case study template, interview the selected state DOT representatives to document their KM successes and lessons learned.
3. A structured, categorized, in-depth report on the applications of KM tools, programs and processes currently used by an agency. This report must have sufficient detail to enable technology transfer among interested agencies for improved planning, programming, and decision-making around KM.
4. A report on suggestions and opportunities for improvement for the continued capture of additional KM applications within DOTs well after the conclusion of this project.
5. Suitable visualizations that would enable easy communication and dissemination of the results of items 1 through 4, for a variety of audiences (especially for the younger workforce).
6. A webinar to disseminate the results of this project to a national level audience.
7. A conduct of research report that documents the entire effort, accompanied by appropriate presentation materials and a plan that identifies opportunities for dissemination.
STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.