RAC 101 PowerPoint Presentation - SCOR/RAC

“RAC 101”
An Introduction to the AASHTO
Research Advisory Committee
25 July 2011
• Intro – Skip
• Mentoring Program – Skip
• SCOR/RAC web site; new member handbook;
resources – Amy
• Peer Exchanges – Barnie
• Coop Research Programs – Chris
• Seven Keys – Gary
• TRB State Reps – Moy
• Q&A - all
AASHTO Vision:
The American Association of State Highway
and Transportation Officials will be the voice
for transportation and a catalyst for
institutional and technical excellence.
Established 1987
Advisors to SCOR
Research Directors from each
AASHTO member department
Appointed by member DOT CEO
Predominately highway-oriented
RAC Mission
“To promote quality and
excellence in research and in
the application of research
findings to improve state
transportation systems.”
RAC Responsibilities:
Demonstrate the value of research
Facilitate deployment of new
Collect and disseminate information on
current and completed research
Conduct peer exchanges on best practices
for research management
Assist SCOR developing annual NCHRP
AASHTO Regions
Chair and Vice Chair appointed by AASHTO President
SCOR and RAC Secretary: Director of the TRB
Cooperative Research Programs
Leadership Team:
RAC Chair
RAC Vice Chair
Four Regional RAC Chairs
RAC Secretary
Task Forces
• Administration
• Coordination & Collaboration
• Value of Research
• Program Management
• Funding
• Transportation Knowledge Networks
• Peer Exchange (dissolved)
Policies And Procedures:
Operating Guidelines
 Each Regional RAC has its own
objectives, policies and procedures, or
January during TRB
National Summer meeting
Role of Parent body: SCOR
“AASHTO’s driving force for transportation
research and innovation”
Keep informed on transportation research
Solicit, evaluate, select NCHRP problem
Encourage effective use of research funding,
and recommend appropriate funding levels
Serve as forum and advocate
Review, monitor, and foster coordination
SCOR Membership:
Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson appointed
by the AASHTO President.
Secretary: Director of TRB Research Progs.
2 Senior Administrators from each AASHTO
2 Research Directors from each AASHTO
Affiliate & ex-officio members
• RAC Secretary sends welcoming letter
• Regional chair talks to new member and
assigns mentor
• Mentor/new member talk on monthly
basis covering various aspects of RAC
and research program administration
• Mentor assists new member in
preparation for the annual summer
meeting; participate together in RAC 101
• Mentor/new member provide feedback
RAC Activities and Resources
Pooled Fund Program
Enables states with common research
interests and needs to collaborate by pooling
Administered by FHWA
•Leverage limited funds
•Avoid duplication of effort
•Undertake large-scale projects
TPF Website: http://www.pooledfund.org/
• Anyone can
Search TPF studies
View current funding
reconciliation spreadsheet
• Authorized users can
Commit funds
Review level of
Read study documents
• Quarterly webinars
Sharing information:
Transportation Research
Information Database (TRID)
World's largest and most comprehensive
bibliographic resource on transportation
information (900,000 records; 60,000+ with
links to full-text documents)
Essential resource for solving problems,
avoiding duplication, and building on
existing research
RAC members can submit reports on-line for
posting in TRID
Available free on-line at http://trid.trb.org/
Research In Progress (RiP) Database:
8,400 records
State DOTs, U.S. DOT, and UTCs can add,
modify, and delete info on current research
Now includes U.S. and international research
RAC members can submit and search
information online
“RAC input to TRID & RIP is vital”
SCOR/RAC Website
New Member Handbook
SCOR/RAC Website
• Found on-line at:
• New Member Handbook
Answers basic questions new members might have
Provides links to additional information
SCOR/RAC Website
SCOR/RAC Website
• Overview of SCOR and RAC
Mission statements, operating guidelines, rosters
• RAC Task Forces
Administration and Education
Value of Research
Program Management Quality
Transportation Knowledge
Research Coordination &
• Upcoming Meetings
SCOR/RAC Website
• Contacts/Links
State DOTs
TRB (Cooperative Research Programs, SHRP2,
TRB membership by state)
FHWA (pooled funds, IDEA, STEP, TFHRC)
SCOR/RAC Website
• Resources for Research Managers
Peer Exchanges
Guide to State Transportation Research Manual
Model Calendar for Research Managers
SCOR/RAC Website
• Results of RAC Surveys
• FAQs
Peer Exchanges:
Summary of Changes in
SP&R Guide For Peer Exchanges
Issued January 2010
Peer Exchanges
Federal Requirement.
“Each State shall conduct peer reviews of
its RD&T program and should participate
in the review of other States' programs on
a periodic basis.” [23 CFR 420.207 (b)]
Objective: improve the quality and
effectiveness of research management
Peer Exchanges: History
Federal Requirement emerging
from ISTEA (1991).
 One component of a new model
for research management.
 Peer Review vs. Peer Exchange
Peer Exchanges: History
Federal Requirement emerging
from ISTEA (1991).
 One component of a new model
for research management.
 Peer Review vs. Peer Exchange
Peer Exchanges: History
Federal Requirement emerging
from ISTEA (1991).
 One component of a new model
for research management.
 Peer Review vs. Peer Exchange
Success of the Peer Exchange
The Peer Exchange is widely recognized
as an excellent tool.
The Peer Exchange is frequently copied
by other groups within transportation.
The goal of the RAC Peer Exchange Task
Force was to improve the effectiveness of
this valued tool.
RAC Task Force and its
1. Revise requirement to perform a peer exchange
from once in 3 years to once in 5 years.
2. Allow more flexibility to explore alternate formats.
3. Provide assistance with travel reimbursement for
panel participants.
4. Develop training materials & updated resources for
FHWA Division Office & State DOT Research
Key Changes
• Updates philosophy by both encouraging and
creating the flexibility to use the peer exchange
 Provides for alternate formats.
 Revised interval between peer exchanges.
 Revised peer exchange length.
• Suggests new resources for peer exchange logistical
• Clarifies close-out and follow-up requirements.
• Clarifies the Role of the FHWA Division office
Using your Peer
Using your Peer Exchange Strategically
First Peer Exchange:
a) full evaluation of the program
Second Peer Exchange:
a) full evaluation of the program and/or
b) specific focus topics
After Second Peer Exchange:
a) full evaluation of the program and/or
b) specific focus topics
c) explore emerging opportunities for program
How to use your peer exchange
Panel composition
Other participants
Activities planned during the exchange
Alternative Formats
• On-site at Host State (standard format)
• Multi-state Peer Exchange
• Virtual Peer Exchange
• Multiple ”mini” Peer Exchanges
Multi-state Peer Exchange
• No more than 3 states may meet the requirement at a
Multi-state Peer Exchange.
• Must include an equal or greater number of panelists,
beyond representatives of the Peer Exchange states.
• Expected to be longer than a standard Peer Exchange.
• Exchange must still incorporate discussion of
facilities of all the Peer Exchange States.
• All the Peer Exchange states must hold their own
closeout meeting with their upper management and
Division office.
Virtual Peer Exchange
• Only in rare instances.
• Same array of participants as other
• Prohibits back-to-back virtual peer
Multiple “mini” Peer Exchanges
• More than one part-day or one-day activity.
• May be a combination of formats.
• Must cumulatively satisfy the requirement of
2-3 days within 5 years.
• Must still address key requirements, including
a report, and a closeout meeting.
Length and Cycle Time
• Old minimum of 3 days revised downward to 2-3
Length should consider scope and objectives
Longer for multi-state peer exchanges
Perhaps longer for a comprehensive peer exchange.
Can be treated as a cumulative total over multiple peer
• Definition of “Periodic” has been bumped from 3
to 5 years.
New Resources for
Peer Exchange Administration
Most states struggle with the administrative side of
hosting a Peer Exchange, because of issues related to
paying for travel, lodging, meeting facilities, meals or
The new manual suggests some options:
LTAP Centers
University Transportation Centers
Transportation Pooled Fund Program
The role of your FHWA
Division office
• Solicit their support in planning your peer
• Invite them to participate directly.
• Prepare and submit a follow-up report
Closeout Meeting
New guidance contains specific
expectations for the closeout meeting:
“The host state should hold a close-out meeting
together with their FHWA division office
representative and their State DOT upper
management on the peer exchange.“
New Follow-up Expectations
Old System
Optional “Round Robin” follow up Report.
A formal response required only if the host state rejects the
Peer Exchange Report and Recommendations.
New System
“Before the next peer exchange the state director of
research should prepare a follow up report or
memorandum summarizing changes that were or were not
made to the program based on the previous peer exchange,
and submit it to their FHWA division office and their State
DOT upper management.”
Sharing your Peer
Exchange Experience
Post your Peer Exchange Report on the
SCOR/RAC Website:
Research Programs
Technical Activities Division
Studies and Special
Programs Division
Research Board
Administration and Finance
Cooperative Research
Programs Division
Strategic Highway Research
Program 2
TRB Cooperative Research Programs
National Cooperative Highway Research Program
(1962- $37 mill.)
Transit Cooperative Research Program
( 1992 - $9 mill)
Commercial Truck & Bus Safety Synthesis Program
(2002 - $300,000)
Airport Cooperative Research Program
(2005 - $15 mill)
TRB Cooperative Research Programs (cont’d)
Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program
(2007 - $1 mill)
National Cooperative Freight Research Program
(2007 - $4 mill)
“AASHTO’s Research Program”
State DOT support
Formed in 1962
Applied Research Focus
APPLIED Research:
AASHTO Guides and Specifications
Guides for practitioners
Software products
Product enhancements
New or improved models/tools
Improved operations and services
Testing/evaluation techniques
Continuing NCHRP Projects:
Synthesis of Practice
International Scanning Program
Domestic Scanning Program
Quick response studies for AASHTO
Financial Support
From State Departments of
With 5 1/2% of State Planning and
Research funds (voluntary contribution)
SPR = 2% of Federal Aid Highway
RAC Participation in NCHRP:
Developing problem statements
Reviewing problem statements
Nominating panel members
Serving as panel members
Providing funding through SP&R
Evaluating and implementing results
The NCHRP Process
Problem Statements:
Annual solicitation (June)
Must be submitted by either…
–State Departments of Transportation
–AASHTO committees and subcommittees
–Federal Highway Administration
General description of problem or
research need
TRB Standing Committees:
• To learn
• Keep yourself and your organization up to date on
latest research and issues
• Get to know leaders in profession
• Leaders in profession get to know you!
• Become part of a community
• To help develop research ideas
How can I get my problem statement selected?
NCHRP problem statements must be …
• National in Scope
• High priority
• Widely supported,
esp. by DOTs and
“How to write an effective
problem statement”
See: Funding Sources for Transportation Research:
Competitive Programs, Appendix B
Problem statements reviewed by:
NCHRP and FHWA staff
AASHTO Standing Committee on
AASHTO Research Advisory
Projects selected by:
AASHTO Standing Committee on Research SCOR
Approval Required by 2/3 of AASHTO
Board of Directors
Formation of Advisory Panels
Experts in subject matter
Typically 8 members
4-5 State DOT
Academia, Associations, Private
Sector, Local Gov’t
Liaison member from FHWA
• Why serve on NCHRP panels?
• How do I submit my nomination?
Through AASHTO Research Advisory
Committee Members
(see Research.Transportation.org)
Directly to NCHRP
NCHRP website http://trb.org/NCHRP/Public/NCHRP.aspx
• Information on NCHRP and
• Search engine
• Project Info since 1988:
Anticipated / Active /
• CRP publication lists /
ordering info
• Requests for proposals
• Registration form for
notification of RFPs
Seven Keys to
Building a
Important implications
Presents major elements in research
manager’s job description
Describes a type of person who should be
managing research – skill set
Identifies responsibilities of top
management toward research
Addresses excellence in research
Why do programs differ
so dramatically?
Some research
programs are sustained
at a high level over time
& others struggle,
relying on federal
requirements to do
Is the Chief Executive?
A CEO not predisposed to research
is a hard sell
Most CEOs enter the job being
neutral to research
Robust programs remain strong
even during CEO turnover
Robust programs have supporters
throughout top management –
inform CEO about importance of
research – build CEO support
Note… Difference between effective
and robust
Effective = produce high quality
results, targeted to real problems
Robust = worthy of emulation,
models, flourish and thrive, vigorous
and enduring, add value to parent
organization, contribute to
organizational goals
Seven Keys to Building a Robust
Research Program
Found it on trust
Market boldly
Root it in economics
Make deals unabashedly
Insist on accountability
Embrace policy research
Empower the staff
Trust is most important
Trust relationship between research
program and parent organization
Trust extends both directions up
and down, can be injured by
carelessness or inattention by either
The other 6 keys are really aimed at
building trust
Market boldly
Successful research managers
understand that marketing is an
essential component
–People don’t know what to expect from
–New solutions always require change –
people and organizations are resistant to
–State DOTs are especially resistant to
Root it in economics
Economics is the basis for public
and private sector business
–Research mangers are often picked for
their technical and quantitative skills –
thinking in $$ may be a more valuable
Need for economic rationale for
research investments
Make deals unabashedly
Directors of robust research programs
tend to cultivate of alliances of all kinds
Robust programs include collaborations
–Between DOTs and universities
–Cooperative or pooled fund research
–Public-private partnerships
Leverage resources (talent and $)
Must cross organizational lines, some loss
of control
Insist on accountability
Research is an asset that
requires management
Hard to run research by the
Robust program managers
find ways to be accountable
even if not required to do so
by top management
Accountability is bidirectional
Embrace policy research
Robust programs include policy research
in their portfolios
Policy research provides a
communication channel between research
and top management
Makes research consider strategic topics
of specific interest to executives
Empower the staff
Let the staff “roam” to interact
with those that have the problem
or with relevant technology
Work across organizational lines
Interact with peers, travel to
research sites, and meet with
others working on similar
7 Keys Summary
Not all robust programs use all keys,
but using more is better
Keys appear to be universal -applying to public & private, large &
small, state & national scope
`RAC 101 Workshop
State Reps
Monday July 25, 2011
Moy Biswas
RAC Admin Task Force
Opinions expressed in this presentation
are solely & entirely those of Moy
and do not belong to RAC Admin Task
FHWA, NCDOT, or any other individual
or entities.
Ask not what you can do for TRB
Ask what TRB can do for you
What TRB Can Do For You
Free trip to Salt Lake City
Free registration at the Annual TRB meeting
(all state DOT employees)
Free lunch on Tuesday
Free lunch on Wednesday
Free food & beverages @ hospitality suites
Free TRB (& NCHRP) publications
Free on line access to full text TRR & other
(?) TRB publications
No Free Lunch!
(What you can do for TRB)
Pay your annual TRB dues
Pay by check – SPR 80-20
Pay by way of FHWA administered
Pooled Fund – 100 Federal w/ 3% surcharge
Pay your annual NCHRP dues by way of
FHWA administered Pooled Fund
Host periodic TRB Staff visits
TRB State Rep Responsibilities
Keep up w/ the annual activities calendar
for TRB reps (?)
Serve as the SHRP II coordinator
Disseminate information from the TRB
electronic newsletter, or encourage State
DOT research geeks to subscribe
Disseminate TRB publications information
Distribute extra copies to research geeks
(more) TRB State Rep Responsibilities
For newly minted research projects, enter
data on-line to Research in Progress (RiP)
For recently completed research projects,
send (electronically) final report to TRB
library – for inclusion in TRID
Update RiP data
Submit items for TR News
(e.g., Research Pays Off)
(more) TRB State Rep Responsibilities
Recommend/Assist members for TRB
committees and panels
Update listings from State DOT and
from your State
Update TRB publications distribution lists
Coordinate response to TRB questionnaires
Encourage submitting papers for TRB
meetings and publications
Maintain an awareness of TRB / inform
others in your department
(more) TRB State Rep Responsibilities
TRB Rep is like a housewife
 Work is never done!
Do not miss attending task force
conference calls or RAC region
conference calls, etc.,
you are going get assigned to make
presentations and other work

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