US Domestic Scan Program -- Business Plan. US Domestic Scan Program

Continuing innovation in the practices of U.S. transportation agencies has brought substantial benefits to the nation. Examples of beneficial innovation range from new materials used in pavements and structures, to new ways of collecting and analyzing information about transportation system users and the environment in which the system operates, to new ways of funding the investments needed to improve public safety and efficiency of travel. Beneficial innovation occurs in any field when new ideas are disseminated and widely adopted by practitioners. Experience in many fields illustrates that expanding the extent of information exchange among practitioners and accelerating the rate of the exchange facilitate adoption of innovative practices. Experience also shows that personal contact with new ideas and their application is a particularly valuable means for information exchange. U.S. engineering professionals have visited their colleagues in other countries and returned with information that they have subsequently communicated to their domestic colleagues and seen applied to improving domestic practice. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and others have been active in technology transfers at the international level with their involvement in such activities as NCHRP Project 20-36 on “Highway Research and Technology---International Information Sharing.” These experiences have shown that the “scan” approach is a productive means for encouraging the spread of information and innovative practices. Many international program participants and observers have noted that new ideas emerge in state and local transportation agencies around the United States, and that faster dissemination of many of these ideas could yield benefits similar to those associated with international information exchange. Domestic scans conducted by various FHWA offices as well as through the NCHRP illustrate the potential value of a domestic scan program. A scan entails four key steps. First, knowledgeable people identify novel practices in their field of interest. Second, these people assess the likelihood that these new ideas might beneficially be applied in other settings. Third, new practices that offer the most promise are investigated further to identify pertinent development and application issues and assess appropriate technology transfer opportunities and methods. Finally, the results are documented for use by those who participated and for others to apply. Effective scans both supplement and make use of other mechanisms for information exchange such as publications in trade and professional journals, conferences, and peer-to-peer forums. A scan program focuses on face-to-face discussion of current experience, providing opportunities for a uniquely rich exchange of information that is difficult or impossible to replicate through written materials, telephone conversations, and e-mail correspondence. The informal discussions among scan participants contribute to the extraction of useful information from the individual participant’s observations. Executing an effective scan program requires sound understanding of the topic areas to be considered, insightful selection of topics and new ideas to be observed, careful selection of participants who can provide useful insights from their observations, and thoughtful documentation and dissemination of each scan’s results. Managing the domestic scan program additionally requires that resources be conserved by not duplicating the information exchange activities of others. As currently conceived, the domestic scan program is broad, considering any innovative practices of high-performing transportation agencies that could be beneficially adopted by other interested agencies. Each scan might entail site visits and peer exchanges, possibly at geographically dispersed locations. The program includes annual cycles of topic selection, scans, and documentation. A Draft Business Plan prepared by consultants for the NCHRP described some of the issues shaping the work in this project, and a Pilot Program that included two scans provided experience that helped to refine these issues. (Refer to ) The purpose of each scan and of the program as a whole is to facilitate information sharing and technology exchange among the states and other transportation agencies, and to identify actionable items of common interest. While scans have been shown to be an effective means for encouraging adoption of innovative practices, the overall program also includes activities to explore alternative methods of identifying emerging new practices and disseminating information about new practices to other practitioners. These latter activities may influence how the scan program is conducted. The objective of NCHRP Project 20-68A is to plan and manage the execution of domestic technology scans, each addressing a single technical topic. The initial 3-year schedule of activities was intended to be the first stage of what NCHRP anticipates will be a continuing domestic scan program. NCHRP staff estimates that funds allocated to the program will typically be adequate to support planning and execution of three to five scans each year. The number of scans conducted each year will depend on the estimated costs of specific scans and the availability of funds from NCHRP and other sponsorship. The ranges of total cost anticipated when the program was initiated were $80,000 to $150,000, dependent on how the scan was conducted. Costs for scans subsequently completed have reflected refinement and experimentation with scan procedures. AASHTO and NCHRP identify scan topics, based on suggestions submitted by state DOTs and FHWA. Each scan is planned and conducted with a scan team chair (or co-chairs) and 8 to 10 scan-team members. A subject-matter expert, working with the scan-team chair and members, is responsible for (a) conducting a desk scan; (b) defining the appropriate duration of the scan, its technical structure, and other factors likely to influence planning of the scan; (c) preparing scan technical materials; and (d) supporting the scan-team's reporting of their experience and findings. AASHTO and NCHRP identify scan team chars and members. The management team is responsible for receiving scan-topic descriptions from NCHRP; planning, executing and documenting scans, including securing NCHRP approvals of interim and final products; and preparing an annual report of the domestic scan program’s activities. The management team works with scan-team chairs to select subject-matter experts.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $5110592
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-68A

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Lemer, Andrew

  • Performing Organizations:

    Arora and Associates, P. C.

  • Principal Investigators:

    Capers Jr, Harry

  • Start Date: 20071227
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220402
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01730777
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-68A
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Feb 10 2020 4:41PM