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JFA conducted a survey of all 52 state departments of transportation and a selection of ten other transportation planning organizations in order to gather useful and accurate data on current practices used in developing transportation solutions. During the development of the survey instrument and the analysis of survey results, JFA corresponded with Sounding Board members for suggestions, advice and feedback.
The following discussion describes the process undertaken by JFA in the development and implementation of the survey. This discussion is divided into three sections:
JFA developed questions for the survey instrument based on a review of relevant literature, input from FHWA, and correspondence with Sounding Board members. The questions were written with the following goals in mind:
A preliminary draft of the questionnaire was submitted for content review by FHWA personnel in the Environmental, Engineering, Planning and Real Estate disciplines. JFA then corresponded with the Sounding Board for advice and guidance in preparing a sensible, clear and appropriate set of questions. JFA conducted a conference call on April 17, 2002 with the Sounding Board to discuss four main issues that arose during the prior review: 2
The preliminary draft questionnaire was revised based on input from the Sounding Board and FHWA.
It was determined at the outset of the project that a web-based survey would be the most cost effective survey method and the one that would obtain the highest response rate. The survey page was created using MS FrontPage software and was housed on the JFA company website. The survey page was formatted with FHWA headers and footers in order to give it the appearance of an FHWA web page.
Finally, the draft questionnaire was pilot tested by the Sounding Board members and revised based on the feedback. The pilot test focused both on the content of the survey and on the functionality of the website and receipt of results. The draft questionnaire was then submitted to FHWA for final review. Through coordination with the FHWA Office of Management and Budget (OMB) liaison, JFA completed the required OMB clearance package and the questionnaire, entitled "FHWA Integration Solutions Survey", was also submitted to OMB for approval. OMB clearance was granted.
The list of survey respondents included staff from all 52 STDs and a selection of other transportation organizations. For each STD, up to 4 potential respondents were identified from each of the four disciplines of planning, real estate, engineering and environment. One respondent from each discipline in each STD was identified as the primary respondent for completion of the survey. JFA developed the list of potential STD respondents based on a review of organizational staff charts provided on STD websites and the AASHTO 2001 Reference book. JFA contacted the managers of each of the four FHWA Regional Resource Centers - Eastern, Midwestern, Southern and Western - for assistance in reviewing the contacts and providing suggestions where appropriate STD contacts were not easily identifiable. When information and assistance was unavailable, JFA contacted each of the state departments to determine which employees would be the most appropriate in completing the survey. JFA also received input from FHWA and the Sounding Board members on the identification of survey respondents in STDs and other transportation planning agencies.
The following two contact lists were developed.
Upon receiving approval of the survey instrument by OMB, an email notice providing a hyperlink to the web-based survey was sent on July 22, 2002 to the 255 identified respondents. The email specified general project goals and objectives and clearly established the survey as an FHWA project.
The deadline for responses was initially set for August 12, 2002 and then extended to September 20, 2002 in order to achieve a higher response rate. Many respondents were unavailable over the original survey period due to summer vacations. Two subsequent email notices were sent to all respondents as a reminder approximately one week before the initial and revised deadlines. In addition, JFA contacted all non-respondents by telephone in the weeks between the original and extended deadline dates in order to encourage completion of the survey and answer any questions respondents might have regarding the project.
The survey remained on the JFA company website in order to provide JFA the opportunity to make revisions and track responses. Responses were received directly on JFA's web server and maintained in an Excel spreadsheet throughout the data collection and survey analysis period. In instances when respondents had trouble completing the survey on-line or did not have web access, survey forms were sent and returned by facsimile. A few responses were also taken over the phone when making follow-up phone calls. A 70 percent response rate was achieved.
2 Sounding Board members were provided with a memo before the conference call outlining these four issues and presenting alternative solutions. Twelve Sounding Board members participated in the call and an additional three members submitted their response by fax or email. (back)