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Publication Number: N/A
Date: July 13, 2000

Memo: State Planning and Research Program-Peer Exchange

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U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

Memorandum


Subject: INFORMATION: State Planning and Research Program—Peer Exchange Date: July 13, 2000
From: Dennis C. Judycki
Director, Research, Development, and Technology
 
To: Division Administrators Reply to
Attn. of: HRPD-01

The State Planning and Research Program Administration regulations (23 CFR Part 420) became effective on August 22, 1994. Subpart B requires the States to conduct a peer review (exchange) of their R&T management process on a periodic basis; "periodic basis" has been interpreted in previous correspondence to be a 3-year cycle. The first round of peer exchanges was held between January 1996 and December 1998. It is now time to begin planning for and conducting the second round of peer exchanges.

In general the peer exchange process has been well accepted by the State DOTs, and in fact, most States have been very enthusiastic about the value of this process. A July 1998 report, "Documenting Peer Exchange Administrative Experiences," which was prepared by Barbara Harder under NCHRP Project 20-38A, documents the administrative experiences of the host States and peer exchange teams involved in the first 13 peer exchanges. The report states that the peer exchange is a "practical and effective tool to foster excellence in RD&T program management." The report also provides ideas and suggestions for future peer exchanges. Ms. Harder is preparing a similar report now discussing all of the State's experiences.

We are also planning to make several technical revisions to the Planning and Research Program Administration (Title 23 Part 420) regulations to bring them into conformance with TEA-21. At that time we will change "peer review" to "peer exchange" to reflect current practice. Another change we are making is reflected in the attached revised guidelines. We will no longer require that two members of the peer exchange team be selected from the FHWA list of peer reviewers. There is now a sufficient number of qualified people available to conduct peer exchanges and the list is no longer considered necessary. We certainly continue to encourage participation by FHWA staff in peer exchanges, as this is valuable to both State and FHWA staff in fostering strong relationships and sharing best practices.

It is the State's responsibility to initiate its peer exchange. The composition of the peer exchange team, the breadth of the issues covered, the duration of the peer exchange, and other issues are at the States' discretion. However, your R&T personnel should be proactive partners in helping the State identify the best peer exchange method for them, consistent with the requirements of the regulations. I urge you to work with the State personnel to continue to use the peer exchange process as an effective tool for improved R&T management processes.

If you have any questions, please contact Mr. William Zaccagnino at (202) 493-3183.

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