Caltrans Succession Planning

The purpose of this project is to conduct research on previous and current succession planning strategies undertaken by state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and other organizations to be used by California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in developing and updating its own strategies for application in planning and modal programs including those dedicated to rail, mass transportation, research, and aviation. With the workforce steadily aging, state DOT leaders will need to introduce workforce strategies that will prepare candidates to fill new vacancies. Prior work by Caltrans in this area (2015) indicated that about 10,300 of the DOT’s full-time employees (which constituted approximately 50% of the full-time workforce) were eligible for retirement. These impending vacancies will present a large gap in transportation knowledge as well as the skills that are required to maintain consistent research, management, and performance standards within the agency. Potentially losing half of the workforce would be more than losing loyal and valued employees, it would represent a loss of the knowledge, skills, and abilities that have accumulated over the 15 plus years each employee has experienced as a part of a governmental organization. To maintain the integrity and dissemination of these vital perspectives within state DOTs, succession planning and knowledge management strategy implementation has become paramount. The implementation of these strategies will require a new interdisciplinary system for coaching, mentoring, and long-term succession planning within state DOTs. The aging workforce seen in the transportation industry makes the implementation of succession plans of vital importance for organizations such as Caltrans. After conducting preliminary research related to this project, it was found that research on current state DOT and transportation industry succession planning is limited. However, some research reveals developing best practices from related organizations and general guidelines for succession planning and knowledge management that have been published by other state DOTs such as Oregon and Texas. This project will attempt to identify the state of the art for both succession planning and knowledge management as well as any current and previously implemented succession plans by transportation-related bodies to understand the best practices moving forward. The emphasis is on: (1) conducting research on best practices for succession planning in the transportation and supply chain sectors; (2) collecting professional perspectives on knowledge management and succession planning from industry professionals who have undertaken exercises in these areas; and (3) proposing succession planning and knowledge management exercises as well as organizational frameworks from the research that will serve as a toolkit for implementing succession planning initiatives for planning and modal programs within a state DOT such as Caltrans.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $130000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    METRANS Transportation Consortium

    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles, CA  United States 
  • Project Managers:

    Hong, Jennifer

    Bruner, Britain

  • Principal Investigators:

    O'Brien, Tom

  • Start Date: 20230701
  • Expected Completion Date: 20240630
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01899792
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: 65A0674
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 17 2023 11:16PM