The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department’s Research Program has been operating as we know it since 1976. In 1976, following an extensive review, the Advisory Council was established. The Advisory Council is made up of institution and industry representatives and provides guidance to the Transportation Research Committee (TRC) in the selection of projects for funding. Since that reorganization, the formal process for getting a project underway has remained unchanged.
The process begins by submitting a “Research Problem Statement” to the Staff Research Engineer. The Problem Statement should portray the nature of the desired work and cite specific objectives on which the proposed work is to focus. Problem Statements are solicited annually from within the Department, from educational institutions within the State, and from Advisory Council members only.
The Problem Statement is reviewed by Research Section Staff and details of the review are reported to the Advisory Council for their consideration. The Advisory Council determines the relative priority of all the Problem Statements received at its annual fall meeting. This priority assignment is referred to the TRC along with any additional follow-up as deemed necessary.
The TRC reviews all of the information gathered concerning the Problem Statement and develops the final priority list from which Statements are selected for development into projects as funds become available.
When a Problem Statement is selected for development into a project, a subcommittee is appointed by the TRC Chairperson to advise and guide project personnel, to monitor progress of the project, to develop the implementation plan for the project, and for implementation of the results of the project.
This subcommittee solicits input from the submitter and from any other interested party. When all relevant information has been evaluated, the subcommittee decides if conducting the work as an in-house or contract project can best serve the Department. For in-house work, the subcommittee writes the work-plan. For contract work the subcommittee develops a request for formal proposal (RFP) for the work and circulates it to interested, qualified institutions within the state.
The subcommittee evaluates the proposals received in response to their RFP. They select the proposal that is found to be in the best interest of the Department. They may negotiate with the proposers as needed to obtain the desired project. When the subcommittee is satisfied that a proper project has been developed with a reasonable expectation of success, they recommend the project to the full TRC for consideration for funding.
Once the TRC has approved funding for a project, it is included in the next Fiscal Year Transportation Research Program. The subcommittee monitors progress on the project. They receive and review progress reports, review the work of the principal investigator, and keep involved in the project. Within six months of completion, the subcommittee in conjunction with the principal investigator develops the implementation plan for the project and prepares it for presentation to the Research Implementation Committee upon completion of the project.
When the project is completed, the Staff Research Engineer forwards a summary of the results of the project with recommendations for implementation from the subcommittee to the Research Implementation Committee. Also, the remaining 49 states are informed of the completion of the project. At their request, copies of the report are sent to them electronically. Summaries of activities resulting from the completed project are made to the TRC for a period of three years following completion of the project.