Click for next page ( 155

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement

Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 154
APPENDIX B Workshop Discussion Papers In preparation for its workshops, the committee developed brief discus- sion papers on four themes that it deemed of particular importance for strengthening the U.S. surface transportation research enterprise. These themes were • Agenda setting and processes, • Models for collaboration, • Performance assessment, and • Funding long-term research. The committee formulated questions relating to each theme and included them in the papers to provide guidance to workshop guests and help stimulate informative discussions. THEME 1: AGENDA SETTING AND PROCESSES Context Many organizations in the United States fund research, development, and deployment (RD&D) programs aimed at improving the economy and the quality of life through, for example, the implementation of new technologies or the adoption of environmental or safety standards. The purposes of such programs are to generate new knowledge and to explore ways in which this knowledge can be effectively applied. In prac- tice, however, the potential benefits of RD&D programs may not be fully recognized, or may be unduly delayed, because no integrated and cohe- sive framework exists for addressing the nation’s overall economic devel- opment and quality of life. The lack of a strategic research framework is particularly apparent in the area of transportation. 154

OCR for page 154
Workshop Discussion Papers 155 Other countries, by contrast, have been successful in building trans- portation research frameworks that are closely tied to national policy goals. A team of U.S. transportation experts who toured Europe and Asia in April 2008 observed that, in the countries visited, transportation RD&D is directly related to national economic growth and competitive- ness, among other goals.1 Questions • What processes do you use to set the national RD&D agenda and establish multiyear RD&D program plans? Are these processes top down or bottom up? Are there any unintended consequences, such as an overemphasis on short-term objectives? • What place does transportation RD&D have in economic and envi- ronmental planning and evaluation at the different levels of govern- ment: supranational (e.g., European Union), national, regional, and local? Are steps taken to document linkages between transportation RD&D and economic development and quality of life? • What processes do you use to resolve (or accommodate) differences in priorities among the levels of government and among organizations with potentially competing interests (e.g., entities representing differ- ent modes of transportation)? THEME 2: MODELS FOR COLLABORATION Context The innovation process can be difficult and unpredictable, especially when diverse stakeholders are involved. But collaboration can be a mech- anism for bringing together and engaging all the relevant parties (public, private, and academic) in the innovation process. Models for collaboration recognize that innovation is sometimes driven by government regulation. For example, the introduction of more 1 Elston., D., D. Huft, B. T. Harder, J. Curtis, M. R. Evans, C. W. Jenks, L. McGinnis, H. R. Paul, G. Roberts, E. Wingfield, and J. B. Wlaschin. 2009. Transportation Research Program Administra- tion in Europe and Asia. FHWA Report PL-09-015. pl09015/pl09015.pdf.

OCR for page 154
156 Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future stringent standards governing tailpipe emissions drives the adoption of low-emissions vehicles. In other cases, inventions or technological improvements move into practical application through a process of vol- untary adoption, often in conjunction with capital investments aimed at expanding capacity or replacing obsolete methods. Examples include the widespread adoption of premium steel and aggressive track-maintenance protocols, which have reduced derailments and doubled the service life of rails; and, in the case of highways, the adoption of protocols for longer- lasting pavements. The transportation sector is becoming more reliant on public–private– academic partnerships and on leveraging RD&D conducted in all three sectors to their mutual benefit. However, collaborative models for bring- ing these parties together often fall short of realizing the full potential of new knowledge. Questions • How does your program establish and use partnerships involving gov- ernment agencies, industry, and academia for transforming research- derived knowledge into application? What models of collaboration are most beneficial for “voluntary adoption” of innovations, and why? • Does your program use the regulatory model to advance innovation, and if so, how? What benefits and drawbacks do you see with this model? • What types of organizational structures and funding models are used to enhance application of research results or to stimulate innovation and deployment activities? • What are the barriers to forming collaborative partnerships? What techniques are used to overcome these barriers? • How are proprietary issues and intellectual property rights addressed among partners? THEME 3: PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT Context Across the member nations of the Organization for Economic Coopera- tion and Development, from North and South America to Europe and

OCR for page 154
Workshop Discussion Papers 157 the Asia–Pacific region, there has been a general trend toward evidence- based decision making, accompanied by increasingly formalized require- ments for strategic planning and quantitative evidence of performance. Nations differ, however, in how they implement these requirements, so the transferability of “good practices” across borders remains an open question. Similarly, little evidence is publicly available on the require- ments’ impacts—whether positive, negative, or neutral. Nevertheless, methods and measures are available that can help in prioritizing RD&D activities and assessing their impacts; these tools include, but are not limited to, rate of return on investment, benefit–cost analysis, biblio- metrics (e.g., citation analysis, content analysis), and rates of start-up of new businesses. Questions • What methods and measures do you use in setting RD&D priorities? What time frames are involved? Which methods and measures are required by which funding or oversight entities? • What methods and measures do you use to assess the impacts of RD&D? Which methods and measures are required by which funding or oversight entities? Are the same measures used at supranational (e.g., European Union), national, regional, and local levels of government? • Do the methods and measures used to set priorities and assess impacts for transportation RD&D differ from the methods and measures used for RD&D in other sectors? • To what extent does performance assessment of prior investments influence your decisions on future research investments? THEME 4: FUNDING LONG-TERM RESEARCH Context In the United States, efforts to develop and sustain long-term research initiatives have often run into difficulties because of politically mandated research agendas that are relatively short term. Research for which a pay- off is years, or even decades, away is less likely to receive funding than research offering more immediate benefits. However, long-term research

OCR for page 154
158 Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future in its various forms is an essential component of the innovation process. In the case of transportation, such research enables the possible applica- tion of results emerging from the basic sciences, such as nanotechnol- ogy for use in preventing metal fatigue in rails or bridges, or molecular chemistry to create self-healing asphalt pavement. Long-term research also creates tools for analyzing and predicting the performance of sys- tems not yet in existence, such as new paradigms for public transporta- tion. Long-term research also investigates policy alternatives related to a future that is complex, diffuse, and uncertain. For example, such research might consider the impacts of climate change on transportation systems or the implications of changing demographics for future travel behav- ior and demand, thereby providing guidance about whether to invest in costly and long-lived transportation infrastructure. Questions • Does your research portfolio include funding for long-term initiatives as well as for short-term applied research? • If so, what is the approximate funding split between the two catego- ries of research (long term versus short term), and how has this split varied over time? • Does your funding for the two types of research come from the same source(s)? In other words, is there competition for funding between long-term and short-term research? • If so, do you take any measures to ensure that funding for long-term research is not eroded by the prospect of more immediate payoffs from short-term research? Please describe any such measures and comment on their effectiveness. • How do you justify long-term research in your requests for funding?