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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-10-048
Date: June 2010

State Planning and Research Guide For Peer Exchanges

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4. Guidance and Resources on Conducting Peer Exchanges

It is the State's responsibility to initiate its peer exchange. The peer exchange activity, composition of the peer exchange team, the breadth of the issues covered, the duration of the peer exchange, and other issues are at the State's discretion. That notwithstanding, the State's selection should be done in consultation with its FHWA division office to ensure there is agreement on what will best fulfill the SP&R regulatory requirements for periodic peer exchanges.

What is the core guidance?

  1. Peer exchanges should convene periodically with an agenda that demonstrates efforts to address (a) the State DOT RD&T program's management plan, in whole or in part, and/or (b) value-added enhancements to the State DOT RD&T program.

  2. The peer exchange should be a planned activity with information necessary provided by the host State3,4.

  3. Under the Federal regulation, a State must hold a peer exchange periodically, which means at least every 5 years, if not more frequently, and entails at least a 2- to 3-day agenda.

  4. The peer exchange team should include a panel of approximately four to five people and should include participants from other State research programs, FHWA staff, universities, or other relevant participants; at least one or two of the panel members should have participated in previous peer exchange panels. The host State also may want to consider inviting research directors who are new in the role to give them not only some experience on a peer exchange, but a chance to make mentoring connections with other transportation research leaders.

  5. The peer exchange team must prepare a written report of the exchange4.

  6. The host State should hold a close-out meeting together with their FHWA division office representative and their State DOT senior management on the peer exchange.

  7. 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 his/her FHWA division office and his/her State DOT senior management.

What is the recommended peer exchange cycle for a State DOT director of research?

Determination of which peer exchange cycle is engaged should be at the discretion of the State DOT director of research, in consultation with the FHWA division office, based on the principle and philosophy of the peer exchange and the use of peer exchanges to strategically improve research programs. A longer period might warrant a full evaluation of the management plan to ensure it still provides the appropriate framework for the State's research program. Alternatively, if a State is confident in its management plan or if it is on a shorter cycle, it may choose to conduct a peer exchange that has a specific focus on topics in the management plan or overall research program. Future peer exchanges might also undergo a similar evaluation of the best focus and format to ensure the exchange will result in the most advantageous benefits to the research program.

What options are available for peer exchange activities?

FHWA division SP&R coordinators should be available to partner with and support the State DOT in determining the peer exchange activities and agenda. Peer exchange activities should fill at least a 2- to 3-day agenda within a 5-year span. The number of peer exchanges held should be at the discretion of the State and based on the value added of holding a peer exchange to benefit the State DOT RD&T program.

To ensure that a peer exchange may be fully productive, there may not be more than three host States in a multistate peer exchange. For a peer exchange that includes multiple States, four to five people from outside the host States should be included on the panel.

What resources for planning and peer exchange logistic support are available?

  • University Transportation Centers or universities are excellent resources to support functions related to peer exchanges and are encouraged as a support partner for the State.
  • State Local Technical Assistance Program Centers are excellent resources to support functions related to peer exchanges and are encouraged as a support partner for the State.
  • Meeting contractors are other resources to support functions related to peer exchanges.
  • FHWA division personnel should be available to assist in peer exchange strategic and planning functions.
  • A Transportation Pooled Fund project may be established and administered by States to support peer exchanges.

What other peer exchange resources are available?

Research Advisory Committee (RAC) Web site5

(Peer exchange reports)

http://research.transportation.org/Pages/PeerExchangeProgram.aspx

Summary: Collection of peer exchange reports by States

Documenting Peer Exchange Administrative Experiences6

(National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), Project No. 20-38A)

http://research.transportation.org/Documents/PeerExchangeExperience.pdf

Summary: Examines the progress of the completed exchanges.

Peer Exchange: A Value-Added Program Management Tool7

(NCHRP Project 20-7, Task 125)

http://research.transportation.org/Documents/PeerExchangeTool.pdf

Summary: This document summarized the States' experiences with peer exchanges and how they benefited from the program. The overall conclusion is that a peer exchange can be a valuable management tool.

Technology Today8

"Peer Exchange Produces Results"

http://www.ltrc.lsu.edu/pdf/techtoday_18_4.pdf

Summary: The article touts the success and value of the peer exchange program.

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