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9 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION BACKGROUND generated knowledge resources--that is, on those materials, knowledge, and resources in the unique possession of indi- This synthesis report documents how state transportation vidual STAs at the program, policy, project, and project agencies (STAs) use knowledge management (KM) prac- detail levels. Also included are an annotated literature sur- tices to preserve and enable use of institutional memory. vey, interviews, and other resources detailing practices from STAs can use this report as a resource for assessing their own transportation and other types of organizations. institutional memory management practices. OVERALL FINDINGS There are a number of important reasons for STAs to preserve and manage institutional memory. These include: Of the 38 STAs returning questionnaires, seven reported having a successful KM process robust enough to continue Facilitating training and succession management in through staff and administration changes. Nineteen STAs light of the unprecedented numbers of long-term depart- reported having a KM-related program at some organizational ment of transportation (DOT) employees who are retiring level and in varying states of development. Thirty-three STAs or otherwise departing; reported making some efforts to retain the knowledge of retir- Needing to build on past understandings and improving ing employees. efficiency when providing the information and knowl- edge that allow managers, professionals, and technicians METHODOLOGY AND ORGANIZATION to deliver agency programs effectively, on time, and OF REPORT within budget; Budget-wise, doing more with less; A brief questionnaire was distributed by e-mail to each Responding to requests from legal staff for information state's TRB Research Advisory Committee member, solicit- to support agency positions in litigation; ing the name of an individual knowledgeable about the Integrating historical perspectives and lessons learned agency's KM practices, and able to respond to a more into current transportation agency activities and deci- detailed questionnaire. Drawing on a review of the relevant sion making; and literature, a questionnaire was prepared to gather information Striving to respond efficiently and accurately to on current practices within each DOT. On January 21, 2006, requests for information from elected officials, media, the questionnaire was sent by e-mail to the designated indi- historians, researchers, and the general public. viduals in all 50 states and Canadian provinces. The ques- tionnaire is in Appendix A. At a time of diminished agency resources, these needs are growing in magnitude and urgency. Therefore, this synthesis Thirty-four U.S. state DOTs, three Canadian provinces, study is both timely and appropriate. and one Canadian city returned completed questionnaires. Organizations that returned the questionnaires are listed in STAs have adopted a wide range of approaches in res- Appendix B. The first question on the questionnaire asked ponse to these needs for the management and preservation whether specific efforts were being made to capture the of historically significant material. This study identifies the knowledge of experienced retiring or exiting employees. practices followed by STAs for the effective organization, Questions 2, 3, and 4 probed whether the STA had knowledge- management, and transmission of documents and other related programs or elements of such programs in place at forms of knowledge to current employees and the next gen- some level within the agency. Those STAs that responded eration of leadership at the program, policy, and project affirmatively to any of these three questions were asked to detail levels. finish the questionnaire, which probed the nature of the STA's knowledge-related activities, specific practices, staffing, etc. SCOPE Those who responded negatively were asked to return the questionnaire without proceeding further. Specifically, this synthesis documents the extent and nature of STA practices and approaches to, or lack thereof, at a Chapter one introduces the report and puts the concept of practical level, for preserving and enabling use of internally institutional memory and its relationship to KM in perspective