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Program Assessment


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Highway Research and Development/Intelligent Transportation Systems

The Highway Research and Technology (R&T) program conducts and coordinates research relating to the construction and management of the nation's highway system. Research focuses on pavements, safety, and structures among others. The program conducts direct research and sponsors work by other bodies.


What This Rating Means

Moderately Effective

In general, a program rated Moderately Effective has set ambitious goals and is well-managed. Moderately Effective programs likely need to improve their efficiency or address other problems in the programs' design or management in order to achieve better results.
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has recently updated its strategic framework for managing the R&T program. FHWA now focuses more on achieving agency performance goals, involving outside stakeholders, and systematic program planning. FHWA's Research & Development Corporate Master Plan documents its adoption of industry best practices.
  • Congress earmarks most of R&T's budget for specific research projects. This practice limits FHWA's ability to conduct research in critical subject areas. In the recently enacted Highway authorization, the total value of Congressional earmarks exceeded the total amount authorized for the program in fiscal years 2006 through 2009.
  • FHWA employs a comprehensive project management tool that links performance, budget, and timeline information. FWHA manages each of its 63 different research areas using multi-year program plans, or "road maps," that link agency performance data, R&D schedule milestones, and budget information.

Improvement Plan

About Improvement Plans

We are taking the following actions to improve the performance of the program:

  • Requiring the recipients of earmarked funds to demonstrate how projects and intended results support FHWA and DOT goals.
  • Quantifying progress made towards achieving performance goals at the R&D project level in FHWA's RD&T annual performance reports.
  • Presenting the use of the President's Research & Development investment criteria (relevance, quality, and performance) in the FY 2007 DOT budget and performance documents.

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