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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-06-037
Date: April 2006

Performance Plan Fiscal Year (FY) 2006-2007

RD&T Performance Management

The performance planning process for the Office of RD&T supports the Agency R&T planning process and enables RD&T to carry out its research functions in support of a nationally coordinated R&T Program. The RD&T Office of Program Development and Evaluation is responsible for leading the development of the RD&T Performance Plan, with the support of the RD&T Leadership Council and Performance Management Working Group.

The RD&T Leadership Council is composed of the Associate Administrator for RD&T and the RD&T office directors and team leaders. The RD&T Leadership Council functions in an advisory capacity to effect organizational process improvements on a wide range of issues including program planning, performance management, program planning, and quality of work-life.

Reporting to the Leadership Council is an RD&T Performance Management Workgroup. The RD&T Performance Management Workgroup helps the Leadership Council develop the RD&T Performance Plan, develop performance measures, monitor results, and undertake initiatives to improve organizational performance. The Performance Management Workgroup is chaired by the Office of Program Development and Evaluation, and includes representatives of all seven RD&T offices.

Use of the R&D Investment Criteria

RD&T program managers work to ensure that research investments are mission oriented, support Agency goals, and meet the needs of our customers and stakeholders.

Developed as an initiative of President Bush’s Management Agenda, the Federal R&D investment criteria are used to help improve program management, inform funding decisions, and increase public understanding of the potential benefits of investment in Federal research. FHWA RD&T program managers work to ensure that research investments are mission oriented, support Agency goals, and meet the needs of our customers and stakeholders. The criteria are:

  • Relevance. RD&T program managers must be able to articulate why an investment is important, relevant, and appropriate. Our research activities, products, and services outlined in this plan are designed to support the Agency's goals and address customer needs.

  • Quality. RD&T program managers must justify how funds will be allocated to ensure quality research. Programs allocating funds through means other than a competitive, merit-based process must justify these exceptions and document how quality will be maintained. Quality also is assessed periodically through independent lab assessments.

  • Performance. RD&T program managers must be able to monitor and document how well this investment is performing. Program managers track R&T projects to determine whether the projects are on time and within budget, and assess whether to increase or redirect funding. Customer feedback mechanisms and retrospective benefit studies also provide important information on performance.

USDOT agencies received a rating of “Green” in recent assessments of progress made under the Federal R&D Investment Criteria. Progress in this area is tracked and updated on a quarterly basis by USDOT. The President’s Management Council establishes the ranking criteria with input from experts throughout government and academia, including the National Academy of Public Administration.

Performance Planning and Reporting

The performance plan for FHWA’s RD&T Program is a 2-year plan that directly supports the strategic goals of FHWA and USDOT. The RD&T Performance Plan includes a detailed list of projects and anticipated completion dates. The listed projects are developed in conjunction with FHWA headquarters and field offices as part of multiyear R&T program plans. The RD&T Performance Plan is complemented by an annual report that highlights program performance. Copies of RD&T publications are available online at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/research/index.cfm.

The RD&T biennial performance plan directly addresses the research needs identified by our customers and stakeholders. It provides information on the products, services, and innovations that will be delivered during the plan years, as well as ongoing research activities and support services. This plan also is included in FHWA’s national performance planning database, known as the Shared Unit Performance Planning System.

The Lab Assessment Program

A lab assessment is an onsite, independent investigation by technical and scientific experts whose knowledge and expertise enable them to make credible and unbiased judgments regarding the conduct of research. The review provides a means to determine whether the research activities have high potential value and whether they are achieving their stated objectives. Additionally, the review produces a set of specific observations and recommendations for improvement of operations. FHWA has articulated the following four goals for the Lab Assessment Program:

  • Enhance research quality, performance, and relevance by providing lab managers feedback and suggestions for improvements.
  • Supply an opportunity for an exchange of views among technical experts.
  • Offer increased opportunities for FHWA customers and stakeholders to provide input to research and related activities.
  • Conduct a credible, professional, and objective assessment that further improves customer and stakeholder confidence in the conduct of research and the outcomes produced.

As part of its commitment to continually reevaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of its operations, TFHRC established a lab assessment process in 2003 that used external, independent evaluators from industry, academia, and government. Evaluations are programmed on a 4-year cycle for each of the labs at TFHRC. To date, seven labs have completed the assessment. Results of those assessments, as well as a detailed description of the program, are available on the TFHRC website at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/research/tfhrc/labs/labassessment/

Labs Scheduled for Assessment in FY 2006 and 2007

Scheduled Lab Fiscal Year
Aerodynamics Lab 2006
Coatings and Corrosion Lab 2006
Crash Analysis Labs
  • NCAC at George Washington University
  • Federal Outdoor Impact Lab
Geotechnical 2007
Highway Safety Information System (HSIS) and Design
  • HSIS Lab
  • Geometric Design Lab
Bridge Management Information Systems Lab 2007
Nondestructive Evaluation and Pavement Surface Analysis
  • Nondestructive Evaluation Validation Center
  • Pavement Surface Analysis Lab

Performance Measurement

RD&T uses efficiency measures to link resource utilization with the results that were achieved. The measures are designed to answer questions such as, “Are we making progress? Are we falling behind? Are we achieving what we set out to achieve?

Tracking program efficiency measures allows RD&T to determine the extent to which multiyear program plan milestones are being met, and thus assess progress toward achieving long-term program goals. Additional information on our research results can be obtained in the TFHRC Profile Report available at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/research/tfhrc/.

FY 2006/2007 Project Distribution

Currently, 35 percent of our projects are scheduled for completion in FY 2006, and 40 percent are scheduled for completion in FY 2007. There are 47 projects being conducted in support of the Mobility and Productivity goal area that are scheduled for completion in the FY 2006/2007 timeframe. In the Safety goal area, 34 projects are scheduled for completion during the same timeframe.

FY 2006/2007 Project Distribution Projects by Goal

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