The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(040) [Completed]

Analysis and Benchmarking of State DOT Recruitment and Hiring Practices
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $49,658
Research Agency: B.T. Harder, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Barbara T. Harder
Effective Date: 9/21/2004
Completion Date: 9/30/2006


There currently exists little information and no mechanism for comparison of human resource (HR) best practice benchmarks of state departments of transportation (DOTs) and other transportation agencies. However, many innovative approaches are being tested and implemented by state DOTs that clearly constitute best practices and merit benchmarking and inclusion in a national summary report that could be shared with other DOTs and transportation agencies.

An area of particular interest and priority is recruiting and hiring practices. State DOTs face many challenges in competing with the private and nonprofit sectors, as well as other governmental agencies, for qualified employees at the entry and mid-career levels and at all skill levels. For example, many state DOTs must work within the requirements of state civil service systems or employee unions that are often viewed as hindrances to effectively competing in today's job market. Generational and diversity issues and the effectiveness or lure of incentives aren't well understood and accommodated. Non-US citizens in the job market are a resource, but present difficulties with traditional state DOT hiring practices. Finding the right talent pools can be difficult. What is needed is a major national study to benchmark various best practice HR activities for comparison among peer groups of states.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) requested this research to analyze and benchmark HR best practices for recruiting and hiring transportation agency employees at entry and mid-career levels. By grouping states using appropriate demographic and organizational context information based on qualitative and quantitative characteristics, organizations can assess the value of recognized successful programs by peer group states sharing the same mix and capacity potential. This benchmark report is intended to build on TRB Special Report 275, The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit Agencies and NCHRP Synthesis 323, Recruiting and Retaining Individuals in State Transportation Agencies.

The researchers reviewed and analyzed relevant practice, performance data, research findings, and other information related to the recruitment and hiring of transportation employees.   They then conducted a 2-tier survey of practices of state DOTs, other governmental agencies, and private and nonprofit organizations. The first level was intended to elicit a brief, quick response on which to judge the quality of practices being employed. The second level was a follow-up with a more detailed investigation by such means as visits, telephone interviews, or published agency material for select practices meriting further consideration.  The researchers than prepared write-ups of best practices organized within defined peer categories that could be used as benchmarked references.  Issues or practices dealing with entry and mid-career level positions included, for example, working with state civil service systems, employee unions, and the agency's culture; using incentives (e.g., hiring bonuses, moving expenses, and laptop computers); considering generational aspects and diversity; applying automated personnel systems; finding the right skill sets; dealing with the timing of recruitment efforts and the length of the hiring process; and employing non-US citizens.  The final report was intended to include a user-friendly catalogue of best practices organized by peer groupings.

Status: Completed

Product Availability: The agency's final report, as delivered to AASHTO, is available by clicking here.

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