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

This summary report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-16-071    Date:  August 2016
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-16-071
Date: August 2016


FHWA Research and Technology Evaluation Program Summary Report Spring 2016



The Federal Government has the responsibility to fund and conduct R&T activities to meet highway transportation challenges and significantly advance technology innovation when private investment is neither present nor sufficient to meet public need.(1) The FHWA R&T Research Agenda considers future transportation issues from two perspectives: challenges and research components designed to meet those challenges.(4) Four of the eight research components (Infrastructure, Operations, Safety, and Exploratory Advanced Research) take place under the guidance of TFHRC.(3) Advancing these research components will require continually reexamining and improving the process of selecting and executing research projects, disseminating findings, supporting user adoption, and assessing impact. FHWA’s Corporate Master Plan (CMP) for Research and Deployment of Technology & Innovation emphasizes performance evaluation and measurement.(2) Additionally, TFHRC leadership has adopted a Strategic Plan to guide the Center’s continued development. One of the long-term goals (Goal 5) in the plan is to calibrate the Center’s efforts to promote the adoption of research findings.(3) The plan makes explicit that dissemination of knowledge requires engaging external partners and targeting outreach. Evaluation can serve in the search for effective alignment by revealing the relationships between outreach, dissemination, transition, and increased performance. These relationships are the focus of the FHWA R&T Evaluation Program.

The FHWA R&T Evaluation Program has been designed to further TFHRC’s transparency, accessibility, and responsiveness of R&T for stakeholders. To support a more coordinated research agenda, FHWA and the Volpe Center have organized, clarified, and communicated FHWA’s R&T mission, vision, goals, and priorities.. By sharing this information, FHWA hopes to encourage highway researchers to identify and fill research gaps, to reduce unnecessary duplication of research efforts, to stimulate collaborative research efforts, and to accelerate innovation. In its initial year, the FHWA R&T Evaluation Program worked with 9 FHWA offices to identify 16 projects for evaluation across all program areas. The evaluations represent a mix of retrospective and prospective studies and range in schedule from 6 months to 4 years or more.

Each evaluation progresses through an ordered series of deliverables. Five evaluation teams have completed data collection and finalized a report, and one other has submitted a final phase I report and is in the process of preparing its phase II report. Three evaluation teams have submitted final evaluation plans (with one recently delivering an interim tech memo) while five other teams have submitted their draft evaluation plans. Of the remaining two, one team has submitted a preliminary evaluation plan and the other is preparing to initiate planning activities.

The Volpe evaluation team has developed and customized procedures to execute a large number of related evaluations of highway research simultaneously. Guides, templates, checklists, and other tools are in place to ensure quality control and prevent duplicated effort. These tools will enable the team to spend more energy on research design, data collection, and analysis while continuing to issue reports that are similar in style and highly readable. The evaluation team will continue to work with FHWA R&T and program offices to produce accurate evaluations that are useful in shaping the Nation’s highway research and technology agenda.




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Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101