All of the scan participants as well as staff at the three host agencies noted that they found the scan to be extremely valuable in learning about successful practices. In addition to disseminating findings through this summary and final report, scan participants are actively working to adopt innovative practices and lessons learned from the scan within their own agencies, as well as communicate findings and lessons learned from the scan to their peers at professional meetings and conferences. A follow-up evaluation will examine to the extent to which scan participants have been successful in introducing these practices within their own agencies.
An important aspect of the scan visits was not only to explore successful processes and tools, but also to identify barriers to innovation, and ways in which those barriers might be overcome. In many cases, barriers can be addressed through agency actions such as advocating for legislative changes, changing agency policies, or implementing other internal strategies. Some examples of barriers include:
State laws prohibiting alternative methods, such as lack of authority to pursue design-build
Lack of a champion to promote exploration of different methods of accomplishing the goal
Institutional inertia, where staff prefer to stick with the tried and true approach - related to a high level of risk avoidance, and therefore an unwillingness to experiment or innovate
Failure to do a risk-reward analysis. For example, if a 100-year title report takes a lot of time and carries high-cost perhaps an abbreviated title report for low-value properties could be justified to save time and money
Lack of resources, including adequate personnel, appropriate databases, equipment, and training
Some barriers may be beyond the control of any individual person or agency. There are many others, though, that may be surmountable. For example, state DOT officials can propose and advocate for legislative changes, such as providing design-build authority, or allowing the use of incentive payments. Strong leadership, good management, and support from the highest levels of the agency can help overcome institutional inertia. FHWA and AASHTO can help states overcome barriers by continuing to sponsor research, develop training materials, and examine Federal policy and regulations as well as their implementation at a Federal and state level.
Success in implementing change comes only at the expense of taking risks and deviating from the orderly and safe processes of the past. A particularly successful approach was demonstrated by the Florida DOT where the goal is to have the project delivered on schedule. Where any portion of the process slips it is everyone's responsibility to get things back on schedule. It seems to be more than a coincidence that teamwork is mentioned in each of the scan locations as a technique which serves to improve overall performance. Throughout the discussion it is obvious that the team approach involves more than a couple of training sessions and meetings outlining the team process. Creation of successful teams require time, commitment and nurturing. The end results have produced effective teams who are justly proud of their accomplishments.
Development of teams demands commitment by management as well, and team creation requires a champion who will use effective communication skills to create self motivated teams. This observation is as critical to improving right-of-way and utilities practices as it is for improving any aspect of transportation planning, project development, and delivery.