The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(39) [Final]

Alternative Organizational Designs for State Transportation Departments
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $220,000
Research Agency: TransTech Management, Inc
Principal Investigator: John Cameron
Effective Date: 9/22/2005
Completion Date: 7/31/2008

State departments of transportation (DOTs) are continually evolving because of planned and unplanned reactions to internal and external forces of change -- for example, legislative, economic, and demographic trends; rapid turnover in top leadership as well as other workforce-related issues; increasing focus on operations and customer services; downsizing, employment caps, and outsourcing; rehabilitation needs versus new construction; modal integration; and elective and mandatory changes in relationships with other governmental agencies and private organizations. While many state DOTs periodically assess their organizations' abilities to react strategically and revamp their organizations accordingly, accomplishing these efforts can be influenced by issues such as employment policies, other internal policies, and long-standing cultural traditions. The public's demand for more responsive and cost-effective delivery of transportation projects and services often requires more creative and innovative changes to state DOT organizations.

This research was intended to identify organizational designs that respond to various internal and external forces and improve the strategies and business operations of state DOTs in fulfilling their missions in areas such as, but not limited to, program delivery and system operations. Such research could inform the leadership of state DOTs working to improve their own organizations and to discuss alternatives among peers.  The objective of the project was to provide a resource to top-level state DOT management on organizational designs to improve their responses to various external and internal forces of change. It was envisioned that this resource could be used to support organizational assessment as well as to provide a basis for future dialog among the leadership of state DOTs as opportunities or needs arise.  The research was  to examine the effect that organizational design has on the processes and procedures used to fulfill a state DOT's mission.  For purposes of this research project, "organizational design" was taken to mean not only the manner in which units are scoped (i.e., roles and responsibilities defined), but also the way units relate functionally  to one another and actually affect the work-flow processes.

The project was intended to identify and evaluate alternative organizational designs that produced positive changes in response to external and internal forces.  The research team focused on only a few examples of DOTs that had undergone major reorganizations and the process of reorganization rather than the resulting organizational designs.  Documentation and analysis relied on narratives of senior executives of the DOTs that had undergone reorganization and the judgements of research-team members.  A final report was delivered to AASHTO; a version subsequently published by that organization may be accessed on the AASHTO website (click here.)


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