Research Program Manual

DRAFT, not yet approved.

Updated: November 2020


Policies and Procedures

Library Procedures

University Contract Standard Operating Procedures (2015-2020 contract)

Research Project Publicity

Peer Review

Administrative tasks

Project and Report Numbering Policy



Still in development:

  • Overarching intern program SOP - how long interns can stay on, payments, tracking... bring together the 3 intern elements above
  • New policy for project selection: no new projects when a program area has final reports past due
  • Final Reports
  • Project Flow with information on project documentation and responsibilities (possibly to link up with Research Project Process that explains how  you get a project)

1 Introduction

1.1 Purpose of the Research Manual

The purpose of this manual is to describe how the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) manages its Research, Development, & Technology Transfer (RDT) Program. Defining and communicating the program’s policies, procedures, and processes is intended to facilitate the effective conduct of research to better serve agency employees, the District’s residents, and the general transportation research community.  The updates in this manual since the prior version (from 2011) reflect changes in agency organization and program staffing, the enhanced DDOT Library, and a greater emphasis on project oversight and research implementation.

This manual is also intended to satisfy the federal requirement contained in Title 23 Section 420.209(b) of the Code of Federal Regulations,[1] which requires that each state document its management process and procedures for selecting and implementing research, development, and technology transfer activities. This manual reflects the latest guidance from FHWA, released October 16, 2018.[2]

Detailed program procedures for certain activities (e.g. intern selection) have been developed to support and supplement this manual. Those procedures are available on request from the RDT Program and are stored on the DDOT Wiki (  

1.2 RDT Program Mission and Responsibilities

The mission of the RDT Program is to facilitate and promote innovative applied transportation research, implementation, outreach, and technology transfer activities in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of DDOT’s service delivery. The RDT Program seeks to anticipate and address transportation concerns before they become critical problems. The program serves the entire agency by convening and guiding a structured approach to transportation research, providing research material, and managing research projects.

The program’s primary activities include:

Program management
- Developing the research work program
- Serving as an advocate and liaison for research within the agency
- Operating the DDOT library and related services
- Managing the research intern program
- Conducting periodic peer reviews and strategic planning activities
Research projects and activities at DDOT
- Soliciting, conducting, coordinating and supporting in-depth research projects
- Conducting market scans and literature reviews to understand best practices and the state of current research
- Facilitating implementation of research results
- Contributing to data standardization and centralization efforts
Connecting to resources
- Working with and leveraging other research programs, including the Transportation Pooled Fund program and the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) cooperative research programs
- Fulfilling a liaison role to outside research and transportation groups (TRB State Representative, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials [AASHTO] Research Advisory Committee, National Association of City Transportation Officials [NACTO], others)
- Disseminating research findings and marketing DDOT’s research and innovation
- Enhancing DDOT’s visibility at the regional and national level as an innovative agency through outreach and technology transfer activities.

These activities are described in more detail in later chapters. The three primary activities are used as the organizing structure for those chapters.

The vision and goals for the RDT Program is set in the strategic plan.[3] The most recent five-year plan for 2013-2017 set an overarching vision to become a premier urban research program. The plan identified a series of goals and performance measures to support that vision:

  • Enhance the research value proposition, by providing more quality and relevant research projects and improving project implementation.
  • Propel the agency’s data-driven culture, by increasing the availability of timely and quality data and integrating disparate data collection efforts.
  • Partner for success with university partners, Federal agencies, and cooperative research programs.
  • Enhance the visibility of the research program, by better communicating the program’s activities, focusing on customer service, and integrating research programmatically into DDOT’s work. 

1.3 Program Structure

The RDT Program is housed within the State & Regional Planning Division (SRPD) in the Administrative Administration, shown in Figure 1, but serves the entire agency and participates in the broad range of activities in which the agency engages. The RDT Program staff is made up of the Research Program Administrator (Program Manager) and the DDOT Librarian.

The program is also supported by a consortium of universities, led by a lead university partner. The consortium and lead university are selected in a periodic competitive procurement process and currently operate under an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract with the lead university. The Howard University Transportation Research Center is the current lead university. Their staff support program administration activities and, together with the consortium members, conduct many of the agency’s research projects. The partnership with the university community expands DDOT’s subject matter expertise and supports the development of local students who can contribute to the intellectual capital of the District. The partnership can also leverage additional funding opportunities.

In addition to its own staff, RDT leverages additional staffing throughout the agency to provide project management and oversight of individual research projects, and to serve on the Research Project Selection Committee.

Figure 1 | Research Branch Administrative Structure and Agency Organizational Structure

1.3.1 Program Oversight: Research Project Selection Committee

The Research Project Selection Committee (RPSC) provides high-level strategic oversight and direction to the RDT Program to help ensure the program’s work is relevant and timely and helps to connect RDT to the rest of the agency. The RPSC meets annually to select the research projects to be funded each year. The project rankings and selection results of the RPSC meeting are shared with all RPSC members and the project proposers following the annual meeting.

This committee is comprised of:

  • DDOT Director (or his designee)
  • Chief Project Delivery Officer
  • Up to 2 Associate Directors or Branch managers from the Project Delivery Administration
  • Chief Operations Officer
  • Up to 2 Associate Directors or Branch managers from the Operations Administration
  • Chief Administrative Officer
  • Up to 1 Associate Director or Branch manager from the Administrative Administration
  • Chief Performance Officer
  • Up to 1 Associate Director or Branch manager from the Performance Administration
  • FHWA DC Division Office representative (non-voting)
  • Lead university partner representative (non-voting)

Project oversight is described in section 3.2.

1.2 Program Funding

Federal State Planning & Research Part II (SPR2) funds, as defined in 23 USC 505(b), are the primary source of program support and the application of that support is the focus of this manual. SPR2 funds are required to be at least 25% of the funds set aside each year for the State Planning & Research (23 USC 505(a)). Under the FAST Act, the typical funding level for the RDT Program is approximately $1 million per year in combined Federal and State funding. [4]

The RDT Program also seeks to leverage other Federal, local, and grant funding to support agency research activities, such as the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) Implementation Assistance Program and State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Incentive funding. In the agency’s annual call for projects, the RDT staff can request additional funding to increase the program funding levels and fund more or higher cost projects. Additional funding can come from prior year SPR2 balances (made available when research activities do not spend their full allotment and are de-obligated) or from other District and Federal funding available to the agency.

The program’s fiscal year follows the agency’s and runs from October 1st through September 30th.

2 Program Management

This section describes the core aspects of running the RDT Program at DDOT that are not directly tied to research projects or liaison roles with external groups (described in later sections). The staff of the RDT Program serve as advocates for research within the agency, administering the program and providing on-call research support. Staff also serve on project oversight panels for projects with research components that are not funded by the RDT Program but support DDOT research needs.

2.1 Work Program

The Work Program identifies the work to be accomplished and provides cost estimates of activities using SPR2 funds for research purposes. The RDT Program uses this document to outline its planned work for the year. The work plan is submitted to the FHWA DC Division Office for approval by September 1 each year and includes the following information:

  • A description of RDT activities to be accomplished using that fiscal year’s funds (projects, program administration, other research efforts) and a list of on-going funded projects from prior years;
  • The estimated cost for each eligible activity, with a breakdown of funding by Federal, local, and other sources (if applicable) and by previous expenditures, current work program costs, and estimated future costs;
  • The planned period of performance for each activity and what type of entity will be doing the work, as best as is known at the time of work plan development; and
  • A description of any cooperative research, development, or technology transfer activities in which DDOT is participating (e.g. pooled fund studies).

The selection of research projects for the work program is described in Chapter 3.

2.1.1 Funding Obligation

The Work Program describes all the planned obligations during the current fiscal year, including both recurring annual costs and one-time budgets for projects of varying duration. In order to allow the timely closure of federal aid projects, beginning in FY2019 the RDT program will no longer obligate the entire Work Program budget as one federal aid project (FAP). Instead, the budget will be obligated  in several FAPs. The recurring costs, including staff salaries, university and intern support, and pooled fund contributions, are obligated on an annual basis at the start of each fiscal year and closed after the end of each fiscal year. The selected research projects are each individually obligated, keeping within the overall program budget defined in the Work Program.

The obligations themselves follow DDOT’s current obligation process. This is initiated through a request in the Packet Tracker module of ProTrack+. As per current FHWA and 2 CFR 200 guidance, the period of performance for each project obligated (research project or program support) is specified during the obligation process.

2.1.2 Monitoring and Reporting

RDT tracks its activities on a monthly basis and maintains a detailed record for each program activity and project. Spend and schedule adherence on each project is closely monitored in tracking spreadsheets for each year’s work program. In addition, for each project, the records includes scope of work, proposals, agreements or task orders, schedules, quarterly progress reports with accomplishments and problems, fiscal commitments, expenditures (via invoices), and any products delivered in the course of the work. The Project Steering Committee (PSC) reviews are also part of the project record. The role of the PSC is discussed in more detail in Chapter 3.

The RDT Program uses progress reports and other information from the project and program files to develop quarterly and annual reports of program activities for the FHWA Division Office. Per 23 CFR 420, quarterly reports are submitted within 30 days of the close of the quarter and annual reports are submitted within 90 days of the end of the fiscal year.

2.1.3 Program Modifications

Once the Work Program is approved, RDT staff obligate, monitor, and manage the overall budget. Per guidance from FHWA, deviations in work plan items that can be accommodated without additional funding are tracked by the RDT Program but do not require additional FHWA approval.[5] Updated work plans are reflected in the quarterly reporting to FHWA and tracked internally.

Any new projects (aside from those using quick response funds, discussed in section 3.6) or requests for additional funding are sent to FHWA for approval using form FHWA-1365 and following the approved agency processes for submitting such requests in the Packet Tracker module of ProTrack+.

2.1.4 Program Close-Out

Upon completion of a research project or the end of the period for an annual obligation for recurring costs, RDT staff will work to promptly close-out the project. All final invoices should be received and processed within 90 days of project completion and the full close-out process should be complete within one year, in accordance with guidance from FHWA. The close-out process follows the agency’s defined procedures and is initiated via a request in the Packet Tracker module of ProTrack+.

2.2 Communications

2.2.1 Research Website

The RDT Program maintains a website to allow for enhanced and easier communications between itself and DDOT staff. The website communicates the branch’s activities and services to both internal and external parties, including regular updates  of transportation research news. The site provides a list of all ongoing and completed DDOT research. The site also provides DDOT staff an easy way to submit requests for needed research (such as market scans and literature reviews and project ideas).

The RDT website is currently hosted on the Google Sites platform: The site is in the process of being migrated over to the DDOT Wiki ( It is expected this will eventually be the only site for the program and will also contain the collection of RDT Program procedures. The Google site will be retired when the DDOT Wiki site is publicly accessible, expected by early 2020. The DDOT Wiki will support better knowledge management for the RDT staff and should be more readily accessible to DDOT staff.

The RDT website is updated on an ongoing  basis as projects are initiated and completed. The full site is reviewed on at least an annual basis by the RDT staff to ensure all information provided are accurate and complete.

2.2.2 Agency Communications

The RDT Program seeks to regularly contribute to the agency-wide DDOT staff newsletter with updates about the call for projects, project updates, and intern highlights. The call for research projects and the call for summer research intern projects are also posted on the monitors placed around the office.

The DDOT Library’s historical materials are also featured on DDOT social media, including Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.

2.3 DDOT Library

The DDOT Library preserves District transportation history and provides a central source of current information, statistics, decisions, texts and other literature serving the needs of DDOT, transportation/logistics profession, academia, students, librarians, journalists, and the public sector. The library is located on the 5th floor of DDOT’s headquarters at 55 M Street SE and provides study and work space as well as access to the collection for both employees and the public. The library fulfills vital technology transfer and knowledge management activities for the RDT Program and the agency.

The DDOT Library maintains a general collection, where books and other multimedia items are kept, including but not limited to: DDOT studies, AASHTO, TRB, and ITE publications, as well as federal reports. The library also keeps study materials for the PE, FE, and PMP exams, and providing assistance for these exams has become a core function of the library’s day to day operations. The library catalog is hosted at: and is available both within the agency and to the public.

The library also hosts a large historical collection, including books, archival materials, maps, and most centrally, photographs. A large digitization project is in progress for the historical materials, which are hosted on the publically available DDOT Back in Time Website at

The library has its own procedures manual where more detailed information about the program can be found. That manual is available from the RDT Program or on the DDOT Wiki.

The DDOT Library collaborates with other programs in the agency, particularly the learning and development branch, to ensure that agency materials are deposited with the library and to identify and procure materials needed by DDOT staff.

2.4 Intern Program

The intern program provides paid opportunities for current university (graduate and undergraduate) students to work on substantive research-oriented projects around the agency. The RDT program typically funds 10 summer interns and up to 5 school-year interns. A call for summer intern projects is put out to agency staff in January and projects are selected and posted by early March. Summer interns work from June to August. Semester interns are typically a continuation of summer intern projects but sometimes additional recruitments are done mid-year.  

The program is managed by the RDT Program with its university partner. The staff who request intern projects oversee day-to-day work and provide direction to the interns. The RDT Program staff provide oversight for the program, handle administrative details for working at DDOT (badges, desks, computers) along with Human Resources, and serve as an on-site resource when there are questions or issues. The university partner is responsible for recruiting the interns, paying their stipends, and providing administrative support.

An intern manual was developed to support interns at DDOT and is regularly updated based on feedback from interns and changes in agency policies. The manual and detailed intern program procedures are available from the RDT program and on the DDOT Wiki.

2.5 Peer Exchanges

FHWA requires that each state host a peer exchange periodically to review its research program. The goal of the peer exchange is for a participants from various state research programs, FHWA, the host state, and other as deemed appropriate, to share information and to identify the strengths and opportunities for improvement of the host state’s research program. Topics considered by participants include research management approaches, project solicitation and selection, building research capacity, contracting, implementation and other related topics.

At the end of the one-to-two day exchange, the participants develop a report which summarizes the discussions, itemizes findings and outlines the recommendations. Copies of the report are filed with DDOT Library and the DC Division Office of FHWA. The Program Manager submits the peer exchange report and its highlights to the DDOT RPSC. The Program Manager will also submit a response report to FHWA that will outline actions to be implemented as a result of the peer exchange.

DDOT hosts peer exchanges at the appropriate interval, following the latest best practices identified by the AASHTO Research Advisory Committee. In accordance with 23 CFR 420.209(a)(7), expenses for hosting peer exchanges are eligible for 100% federal funding. The cost of hosting a peer exchange is included in the Work Program for the fiscal year in which it will be held.

2.6 Strategic Planning

As a complement to the peer exchange process and to improve and ensure the effectiveness of its activities, the RDT Program periodically prepares a strategic plan. The strategic planning process captures the needs of the program’s customers and how the program’s work fits into the agency’s overall mission, assesses how the program’s customers want to access research services, and identifies where the program should focus its activities over the next five years. The strategic plan also identifies resource needs and how to deploy those resources to meet the goals.

The latest plan was developed in 2012-2013 and guides the program from 2013-2017. The plan is available on the RDT website (see section 2.2.1).

3 Research Projects and Activities at DDOT

This section describes the research project lifecycle at DDOT, from inception and inclusion in the Work Plan through implementation.

Figure 2 shows a brief flow chart outlining the research project solicitation and selection process.

Figure 2 | Research Project Process

3.1 Project Selection

The Work Program identifies the programs and projects that the RDT Program funds each year. Research project selection is a major component of the work program development and one of the most direct ways that the RDT Program advances research at the agency. The Work Plan is submitted for review to the FHWA DC Division during the fourth quarter of the prior fiscal year. This section describes the steps that lead up to that submission.

3.1.1 Solicitation and Initial Review of Problem Statements

Research projects begin as research problem statements, which are submitted to the RDT Program for consideration. Problem statements can be submitted by DDOT staff and by external parties with research ideas for DDOT. Project ideas submitted by non-DDOT individuals must have the support of an internal (DDOT) sponsor. The RDT Program staff help to identify sponsors of submitted ideas as needed.

Problem statements are accepted year round; however, selection activity begins in the 3rd quarter of every fiscal year (April-June). The Program Manager coordinates solicitation activities with the appropriate division managers. In addition, a broad call is put out to university partners and agency staff, via email and inclusion in agency-wide materials (e.g. monitors around the office, all staff newsletter). University outreach is done in partnership with the lead university partner and particular attention is given to researchers who have been in contact with RDT Program staff throughout the prior year.

Submitted problem statements are first reviewed by the RDT Program staff to determine if they are appropriate for DDOT research and the level of need at DDOT. This initial review will consider whether the project meets the following criteria:

  • The issue is answerable by conducting specific research. The project idea must be sufficiently narrow that a research project can provide a useful outcome in a reasonable period of time.
  • There is an agency need or urgency, i.e. the issue relates directly to improving transportation in Washington, DC and DDOT has the ability to implement the project outcomes. Projects that address critical agency needs as identified in the Research Strategic Plan are particularly relevant.
  • The research project is not a duplication of work already conducted elsewhere.
  • The cost and timeframe is realistic and within DDOT’s abilities.

As part of this initial review a market scan or literature review may be completed using the Transportation Research Information Database (TRID) to determine if similar work is underway or has been completed by someone else, as well as the current state of the practice in the area. To help gain a full understanding of the issue at hand conversations with experts may be required. Revisions may be suggested to refine or clarify the problem statement to allow it to move forward in the process. In some cases, although DDOT will not take on the project it may be referred to another venue where it is more appropriate, (e.g. NCHRP, FHWA, or the Transportation Pooled Fund Program).

See Appendix B for a template for submitting problem statements. The latest version of this form is available on the RDT website.

3.1.2 Project Prioritization and Selection

During the 4th quarter (July-Aug), the RPSC meets to discuss and rank the final list of full problem statements. The project sponsors attend the RPSC meeting to help clarify and promote their individual problem statements. Any projects that did not receive funding the year before may also be reconsidered at the request of the project champion. Following the meeting, the RPSC members rank the proposed projects by giving consideration to:

  • Relevance for DDOT’s work: Does this project address one of the identified agency critical needs? Is it likely that DDOT can implement the research results?
  • Merit as a research project: Is this a problem that can be solved by research? Is this a unique need that is not already being addressed elsewhere?
  • Project readiness: Can the research be undertaken immediately? Is DDOT ready to implement the research results in a timely fashion once complete?

The final rankings are compiled by averaging the individual RPSC member rankings.

Projects are selected for the Work Plan according to available funding. Unfunded problem statements are kept on a reserve list in the case that additional funding becomes available throughout the year.

3.1.3 Limitations on the Use of Research Funds

RDT Program funding is used to address the research needs to accomplish the mission, goals and objectives of DDOT. It is intended that funding be utilized for transportation research and development projects and for non-routine technology transfer activities. The following activities are eligible for SPR2 funds based on 23 US.C. 505, State Planning and Research:

  • Research, development, and technology transfer activities necessary in connection with the planning, design, construction, management, and maintenance of highway, public transportation, and intermodal transportation systems.
  • Study, research, and training on engineering standards and construction materials for highway, public transportation, and intermodal transportation systems.
  • Study, research, and training on evaluation and accreditation of inspection and testing materials for highway, public transportation, and intermodal transportation systems.
  • Study, research, and training on the regulation and taxation of highway, public transportation, and intermodal transportation systems.

Activities must also be determined to be consistent with the definitions of research, development, and technology transfer in 23 CFR 420.203. Within these definitions, federal legislation specifically calls out that eligible activities shall encompass the entire innovation lifecycle. Activities cease to be eligible for SPR Subpart B funding upon completion of testing, evaluation, and dissemination.

Unless a research project is to be conducted by in-house staff or needs substantial in-house support, DDOT staff salaries should not be a part of the research project. Research funds are not intended to supplant normal DDOT staff salaries for staff outside the Research Program, to fund travel beyond that required to complete the project, to purchase office equipment, or to be a substitute for projects that would be done otherwise.

Travel for an employee who is working on an eligible SPR2 funded activity can be billed to SPR2 funds at the Federal matching ratio if the travel or training is necessary for performance of the SPR2-funded work and the cost is reasonable. Travel, training, and attendance at meetings and conferences (when the primary purpose of the meeting or conference is the dissemination of technical information vs. general meetings) are allowable if such costs meet the general criteria specified.

SPR2 funds may be used to purchase equipment only if the item is not normally used in day to day work of DDOT and if the equipment is either required for the conduct of the research or if the item is the object of study.  Title to all equipment purchased under a research project rests with the DDOT and must be turned over to DDOT upon the completion of the research project.

3.2 Project Oversight

Once selected for funding, appropriate staff within DDOT are identified for project management and oversight. The Research Program staff remain engaged throughout the project lifecycle but do not directly manage research projects in most cases.

3.2.1 Project Champion

Each proposed project must have a champion who will advocate for the project during the selection process. This person is expected to stay engaged with the project as it moves through the project lifecycle, and to play a central role in implementing any research results. The project champion should therefore be someone from within a division with a stake in the project being conducted and implemented. The project champion is how the RDT Program ensures that only projects with adequate support are considered for funding and then funded at the time. Before a project is moved to the next stage of the project lifecycle, the program manager checks with the project champion to make sure the project is still desired and useful.

3.2.2 Project Manager

A DDOT staff member with expertise in the project topic serves as project manager. This is usually someone from the division requesting the project. This person may also be the project champion, or is someone identified by that champion. The project manager oversees the work of the university or consultant partner conducting the research by monitoring the progress of the project in order to ensure that contractual obligations are satisfied. The project manager is a member of the project steering committee.

3.2.3 Project Steering Committee (PSC)

A project steering committee (PSC), consisting of two to five subject matter experts is assigned to each funded project. The Program Manager selects the members of each PSC in consultation with the administration requesting the project. A member of the RDT Program staff is always included in the PSC; the project champion is frequently included.

Each PSC is responsible for developing the approved problem statement into a refined scope of work that reflects DDOT’s research needs. Throughout the project, the PSC provides guidance to the principal investigator and the project manager on larger questions of scope, project intent, and products to be produced. The PSC’s involvement may vary by project, with heavier involvement in cases of cross-administration or cross-division projects since there is need for more program areas to have active involvement in those projects, as opposed to just the project manager speaking for their program area.

3.2.4 Program Manager

Projects are assigned to RDT Program staff for oversight. The program manager assists the project champion, project manager, and PSC to shepherd projects from inception to implementation. The program manager assists with the identification, if needed, of the project manager, then supports the manager in navigating the process for conducting research projects (discussed in the next section). The program manager monitors the project’s budget and timeline, in coordination with the project manager, and in the case of university consortium projects, serves as the official Contract Administrator (also referred to as Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative) for the project. The program manager’s liaison role between the program and the project is critical to ensure that projects continue to move forward in a timely fashion and that the work conducted is in accordance with this manual. The program manager is also responsible for ensuring that the project is entered into the Research in Progress database and that that record is kept appropriately updated.

3.3 Conduct of Research Projects

3.3.1 Solicitation

Research projects are conducted by either a member of the university consortium or by a consultant, the latter usually being drawn from the Architect & Engineering (A&E) Schedule. For both means, the first step is for the project manager to expand the submitted problem statement into a full scope of work, with input and review from the PSC. The scope should give background on the project, describe the project requirements (tasks and deliverables), and identify a timeline within which the work should be completed. The RDT Program staff reviews the statement of work before it is put out for proposals, following the procurement processes for that particular solicitation type (A&E, University, or other).

If the A&E schedule is used, the RDT Program follows the current agency processes for using that schedule. As of 2018, this is initiated through a request in the Procurement module of the agency’s ProTrack+ system. The scope of work is then sent to three firms selected at random from the list of prequalified vendors. A panel of at least three DDOT staff review and rank the responses. DDOT then requests a  cost proposal and enters into negotiations with the highest ranked firm. If the cost proposal can be negotiated to a mutually acceptable amount, a task is issued to the selected firm.

If the university consortium is used, the RDT Program follows the process established with the consortium at the outset of the contract and documented in a separate procedure. As of 2018, the general process is for the RDT program to send the problem statement to the primary contacts at all the consortium universities (in collaboration with the lead university). A panel consisting of the project champion, RDT staff, and other staff as relevant (at least 3 staff total) then review responses and recommend a selection to the lead university. After negotiation, a task is sent to the lead university to conduct the work directly or via a subcontract with the selected consortium member.

3.3.2 Project Initiation

Once the notice to proceed is issued, a kick-off meeting is held with the principal investigator, the project manager, and the PSC to establish a common understanding about the goals of the project, the methodology, and the expected outcomes.

3.3.3 Project Deliverables Progress Reports and Meetings

For each project, a quarterly progress report will be prepared to outline the status of the project. Typically, the progress report will present the following:

  • How much of the work is complete
  • What part of the work is currently in progress
  • What work remains to be done
  • What problems or unexpected issues, if any, have arisen
  • How the project is progressing generally

At major junctions in the work the project manager should reconvene the PSC with the principal investigator and research team to discuss the current status of the project and next steps.

In addition, DDOT’s contracts stipulate monthly invoicing with detailed support for costs and a progress report on the status of the project. These monthly progress reports can be compiled into the quarterly progress report. Final Reports

The content of the final report is largely driven by the scope of the work, though all final reports must document the data collected, analyses performed, conclusions, and recommendations. The final report should follow the standard research report template (available on the RDT website), including the required disclaimer for SPR2 funded projects and the technical documentation page. DDOT follows the latest guidance from the AASHTO Special Committee on Research and Innovation regarding how best to complete the technical documentation page.[6]

All final reports are submitted first as a draft report for review to the PSC. The principal investigator will then address all of the PSC’s comments and concerns and incorporate them in the final draft. Draft final reports are submitted to FHWA before publication to provide an opportunity to review and determine if the contents of the report are supported by the work performed.

All approved reports are submitted in electronic form (as PDF or a link to the report posted on a publicly-accessible DDOT site) within 3 months of completion to the FHWA Research Librarian, the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, the National Transportation Library, the National Technical Information Services, the Transportation Research Board Library, and the Transportation Library at Northwestern University. This is in compliance with guidance from FHWA as of May 2015 and any newer guidance will supersede the listing here.[7] Implementation Plan

Each completed project should develop an implementation plan that outlines how the DDOT division that requested and championed the research will make use of the research and track the progress of the implementation. The respective DDOT divisions(s) will be responsible for the implementation of the final report recommendations. Where applicable, this plan should include provisions to conduct before and after studies of project impacts.

3.3.4 Publications

All research projects are also strongly encouraged to produce a paper for publication or submission to a conference. In some cases this can be included as a deliverable in the scope of work. RDT Program staff can assist the project manager and principal investigator in identifying venues at which to publish the work.

Whenever a principal investigator submits a paper or presentation based on research sponsored by DDOT, it is required that DDOT will have the opportunity to review the paper and be acknowledged as the project sponsor. The RDT Program encourages DDOT staff to co-author papers. Additional information on project publicity and copyright is included in the program procedures.

3.3.5 Data Management

The RDT Program is a stakeholder within the agency’s data management efforts and assists in the development of standards for data collection and storage as well as with the development and implementation of data management plans, as relevant.

All data that is collected in the course of research projects is owned by DDOT and should conform to data standards established for the agency. The Research Program staff continue to monitor developments in open data requirements and will ensure that the program is compliant with Federal and District requirements.

3.3.6 Implementation Monitoring and Post-Project Evaluation

To assist in determining the effectiveness of the RDT Program, program staff follow up on whether the results of research projects have been incorporated into DDOT’s standard plans, specifications, practices, or procedures or have otherwise influenced how the agency meets its strategic goals. This monitoring can feed into the strategic planning process.

Immediately following the completion of a project, the project manager is asked to complete a Project Exit Evaluation & Feedback form (Appendix B). This form starts the implementation monitoring and provides feedback on the research team as well as the program processes. The responses are reviewed by the RDT Program staff and used to modify program procedures and inform future contracting.

3.4 Market Scans and Literature Reviews

The RDT Program conducts market scans and literature reviews throughout the year to assess the state of the practice and the state of the art on requested topics. More basic scans and reviews can be completed by RDT staff (often the librarian or the program specialist), but more technical or in-depth reviews are done by the university partner.

A request form for literature reviews and market scans is available on the RDT Program website and the template is in Appendix C.

3.5 Other Research Efforts at DDOT

The RDT Program seeks to maintain awareness of all research-related efforts at DDOT and provide assistance as needed. Where relevant, a RDT Program staff member will sit on the project panel for the effort. Monitoring these efforts helps to reduce duplication of effort, keeps the RDT Program aware of agency research needs, and identifies opportunities to showcase DDOT’s innovation to the broader research community.

The RDT Program also supports efforts to evaluate the impacts of DDOT projects through before and after studies. These are sometimes funded by RDT funding, but are often supported by the implementing program and may be written into the implementation plan.

3.6 Quick Response Project Fund

Projects with significant or widespread interest for solving transportation-related problems that need or require immediate completion and funding between annual project selection meetings by RPSC will be considered by the RDT Program. Because these requests typically involve new or emerging issues and are not programmed in advance, approval to advance these projects requires approval from DDOT leadership (PSD Associate Director, DDOT Chief of Staff, or DDOT Director).

The RDT Program documents all approved quick response requests as part of the Work Program monitoring. The budget for the fund will be set in each year's Work Program.

3.7 Internal Research

RDT staff support a range of internal research and development efforts, helping to keep the agency abreast of emerging technologies and assisting with evaluations of pilots and demonstrations. These projects leverage DDOT staff time to conduct the work rather than primarily relying on consultant or University support. In many cases, these projects are also research intern projects. Results of these projects, when formally documented, are submitted as final reports to the DDOT Library.

Recent areas of internal research have included the launch of micromobility pilots in the District, data sharing requirements and data analysis for transportation network companies, and drop-off/pick-up zones on the curbside.

4 Connecting to Resources

4.1 Transportation Research Board (TRB) and Cooperative Research Programs

The Program Manager is designated as the TRB State Representative, charged with keeping DDOT staff informed of TRB activities and keeping TRB advised of current and contemplated research activities at DDOT. The entire RDT Program staff seek to encourage DDOT to leverage its investment in TRB and its programs.

The RDT Program pays the agency’s annual dues to TRB as part of its Work Program. The RDT Program staff seek to leverage that investment in TRB by encouraging committee involvement, organizing the agency’s booth at the TRB Annual Meeting, and encouraging attendance and participation in the TRB Annual Meeting.

DDOT’s contribution to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program is drawn from the State Planning & Research funds before it is split between Parts I and II. The RDT Program staff coordinate the annual ranking and balloting process for NCHRP, as well as encouraging staff to submit panel nominations for all the cooperative research programs. If topics of interest to DDOT are developed into NCHRP problem statements, the RDT Program staff facilitate submission of those problem statements, if needed.

4.2 Pooled-Fund Projects

Projects with significant or widespread interest for solving transportation-related problems are jointly funded by several federal, state, regional and local transportation agencies, academic institutions, foundations and/or private entities.

Budgets for pooled-fund project participation are included in the Work Plan, as deemed appropriate. When calls for funding arise, the Program Manager will consider each and decide whether and at what funding level to participate, in consultation with appropriate DDOT staff members. The RDT Program may be solicited to participate in pooled-fund projects throughout the fiscal year but generally seeks to accommodate new requests as part of the Work Program development cycle.

DDOT is currently refraining from leading any pooled fund studies given the lack of capacity to adequately support such an effort with staff and efficient procurement methods.

4.3 Research Liaison Roles

RDT Program staff are active with the AASHTO Research Advisory Committee, part of the Standing Committee on Research & Innovation. As appropriate, RDT Program staff serve on standing and ad hoc committees for AASHTO, NACTO, ITE, and other national and regional organizations.

4.4 Technology Transfer Activities

Technology transfer involves the use of research results as well as the dissemination of ideas developed by the RDT Program. Some examples include:

  • Presentation to professional and student groups on current research, new technologies, major projects, and lessons learned (at DDOT, HUTRC, etc).
  • Interaction with the public (e.g., ANC meetings).
  • Maintaining a library of research reports, memoranda, etc. for use by DDOT.
  • Professional development of staff through brownbags and dissemination of webinar information.

[1] See the current 23 CFR 420 at the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations:

[2] This guidance was not yet posted on the FHWA website as of December 17, 2018 but is expected to be posted at

[3] The plan is available in the DDOT Library catalog and at

[4] Unless otherwise noted in the Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS), the funding ratio for FHWA participating items is 80% Federal and 20% State. With FHWA approval, Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF) projects may be 100% Federal.

[5] Per the guidance, “a State may make budget transfers among individual RD&T activities without FWHA’s prior approval unless the total of such transfers over the period of the work program will, or is expected to, exceed the larger of the Simplified Acquisition Threshold under 2 CFR 200.88…or 10 percent of the total approved work program budget.” The Simplified Acquisition Threshold was increased to $250,000 in Federal Fiscal Year 2018.

[6] Technical documentation and Available at

[7] Guidance as of May 14, 2015 from FHWA: