National Academies Press: OpenBook

NCHRP 2018 Annual Report (2018)

Chapter: Why NCHRP Works: A Model for Cooperative Research

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Suggested Citation:"Why NCHRP Works: A Model for Cooperative Research." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. NCHRP 2018 Annual Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25346.
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Suggested Citation:"Why NCHRP Works: A Model for Cooperative Research." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. NCHRP 2018 Annual Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25346.
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Page 7

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6 Nat i on al Coo perat ive Highway Research Program WHY NCHRP WORKS A Model for Cooperative Research The model developed for NCHRP has functioned effectively for more than 50 years and has also served as the foundation for other successful applied research programs managed by TRB. TRB manages or has managed national cooperative research programs in the fields of highways, transit, airports, hazardous materials, freight, rail transportation, and behavioral traffic safety. Many of the research programs in state departments of transportation use procedures modeled on NCHRP. From other units of the National Academies to industry associations in a variety of fields, experts approach NCHRP for advice on how best to manage cooperative research. Stakeholders drive success What makes this model so effective? Why has NCHRP been supported by voluntary contributions for more than 50 years? One of the key success factors is stakeholder involvement. Those who will ultimately benefit from the research are involved from beginning to end, starting with the identification of research ideas that might address “[NCHRP Synthesis 424: Use of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) by State DOTs and MPOs] was used to inform the CTPP Oversight Board on the use of PUMS…I also use the report in a course I teach to MPO and state planners.”” – Ed J. Christopher, Independent Consultant 6 at i a l erat ive i ay esearc r ra

7 2018 Annual Repor t their day-to-day problems. Once these ideas are identified, stakeholders review them and select and prioritize projects that will provide the greatest benefit. When projects are selected, stakeholders help to craft requests for proposals, and then provide technical guidance throughout the project to ensure that the research results will be practical, beneficial, and implementable. An objective eye Another key element in the NCHRP model is objectivity. As a part of the nonprofit National Academies, NCHRP does not own roads, make laws, or set policy. Instead, it provides a neutral forum for objective research without bias or prejudgment. NCHRP conducts evidence-based research that adheres to the highest standards of integrity. NCHRP panels bring diverse stakeholder groups together with a common interest for a common objective. Investing wisely in research The program is not intended to be “all things to all people.” NCHRP research is effective because each project is directly targeted at a current problem. Further, by working on shared, national problems and issues, the NCHRP model is designed to seek solutions effectively and efficiently. A comprehensive research program coordinated and funded by all the states allows every state to leverage its budget and receive far more value for the research dollars they spend. By joining forces to solve common problems, state DOTs are able to produce solutions to important problems that might otherwise be beyond the ability of any single state. By eliminating duplication of effort, the reach of every state’s research budget is significantly increased. The NCHRP process is designed to maximize efficiency while producing the highest quality research results—results that will help state DOTs to effectively plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain the surface transportation network while keeping workers and the traveling public safe, providing or improving mobility, and contributing to the economic vitality of communities and the nation. Competitive investigator selection The competitive process used by NCHRP to select research contractors is another aspect of the program that contributes to its success. Each project panel develops a request for proposals that is publicly advertised. Successful proposers are selected based on the qualifications of their team members and the merit of their research approach.

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TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has released its annual report. During 2018, NCHRP completed 150 research projects, published 68 research products, and approved 58 new and continuation projects. The report also presents detailed information about the operation of NCHRP.

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