Managing a Research Program from
Various Funding Sources
Sandra Larson, P.E.
Research and Technology (R & T) Bureau
Iowa Department of Transportation
July 2012
Strengths of a Varied $ Program
• Adequate Funding
• Flexibility
• Meets the Needs and Vision of the Agency, including quick
• Reduced Bureaucracy, quick approvals when needed
• Fosters Inclusion and Implementation
• Transparent and involved in agency functioning
• Facilitates Competing for Additional Funding from Outside
Challenges of a Varied Program
• Requires Extensive Staff Oversight – Difficult for a Small Staff
• Challenges for Coordination of Efforts Across Programs and
Iowa DOT Research Program
• ~ 150 Active Projects at Any Given Time.
• Stand Alone Bureau in the Highway Division.
• Research is Embedded Throughout the DOT Operations and
• Project Technical Advisors are DOT Champions and Experts
in Their Fields, fosters implementation.
• Some Limited Research Conducted by DOT staff, most by
University researchers.
• Some Projects are “Managed” in Other Offices.
Iowa DOT Research Program
• Rich history of transportation research dating
from the early 1900’s
• Anson Marston, ISU Dean of Engineering
started IA DOT on campus and instrumental in
creating TRB (HRB)
• Continued strong support for transportation
research implementation and close
partnership with university
Iowa DOT Research Program
• Annual Research and ITS Program ~ $12 M
• Six Major Research Focus Areas
– Winter Maintenance
– Structures
– Intelligent Construction
- Safety
- Pavements
- Human Factors
• Additional funding from other sources
– HfL, states (pooled funds), SHRP2, FHWA
Major Research Funding Sources
• State Planning and Research (SPR) (Federal) ~
• IHRB (State) ~ $2.2M
• Traffic Safety Improvement Program (TSIP) (State)
~ $0.5 M
• ITS (State) ~ $5M
• State ~ $750k
Major Research Funding Processes
• SPR and ITS – Streamlined Submittals from DOT
Employees/Focus Groups to Office Directors and Bureaus;
Review and Approval by R & T Bureau Director and Division
• IHRB (State) - Detailed Board Process, R & T Bureau Director
Approval – since 1950
• TSIP - DOT and Committee Input, Commission Approval ;
Traffic and Safety Office Administered
• State Research – Flexible, Responsive; R & T Bureau approval
Iowa DOT Research Program
• Basic Agreements with UNI, U of I and ISU
– Reduced Overhead 26% for Research; 8% for Core
Functions (ISU)
– Short Work Order Contracts via
– Common Language
– No Overhead on Subcontracts Between U of I & ISU,
Has Increased Collaboration
– Strong Partnerships with universities/DOT
– Streamlined , Facilitates Project Development,
Reduces Paperwork, Increases Accountability
InTrans at ISU/Iowa DOT Research
Core Program ~ $1.2M
• Admin Support
• Shared Faculty Positions
– Traffic Safety, HMA, PCC, Structures
• Library
• Geotech Center (CEER)
• National Concrete Pavement Technology Center
IHRB History
• Iowa Legislature Set Aside County Funding in 1949
• First Meeting - May 18, 1950
• Initially County and DOT Funds
– City Funding Added in 1989
• All State Funded
• Advisory Board to DOT
• Results in implementable research for state, cities
and counties
IHRB Organization
• 15 Members / Alternates
– 7 County Engineers (Six Districts + TRB Rep.)
– 2 City Engineers
– 2 University Civil Engineering Department Chairs
(U of I, ISU)
– 4 Iowa DOT Engineers
• 3 year terms
Pooled Funds
• Iowa Participates in 35 Pooled Fund Projects (uses multiple
funding sources)
• Iowa Leads 17 Pooled Fund Projects
• Technical Staff Participate on Advisory Panels – Champions for
• Benefits
– Cost Sharing Among States
– Address Regional / National Issues
– Can Address Larger Issues than Individual States
Iowa-Led Pooled Funds (17 total)
Aurora Program (Road and Weather Information Systems)
SICOP (Snow and Ice Pooled Fund)
Smart Work Zone Deployment Initiative
Integral Abutments on Moderately Curved Girder Bridges
Novice (School Age) Drivers - Million Mile Study
Structural Health Monitoring
Impacts of Implements of Husbandry on Bridges
Tech Transfer Intelligent Compaction Consortium
2014 Asset Management Conference and Training on
Implementation Strategies (NEW)
Iowa-Led Pooled Funds - PCC
Concrete Mix and Design Analysis
Joint Deterioration in Concrete Pavements
Deicer Scaling of Slag Cement Products
Development of Performance Properties of Ternary PCC Mixes
PCC Surface Characteristics
Technology Transfer Concrete Consortium
Improving the Foundation Layers for Concrete Pavements
Next Generation Concrete Pavement Road Map (NEW)
• Statewide Urban Design and Specifications
– Uniformity of urban design and specifications across the
– Reduction of contractor confusion and mistakes due to
differing specifications; encourages more bidders
– Mechanism to be proactive in research and studies for
new and improved urban design and specifications
– Forum that allows state/ local governments to collaborate
with industry
– Reduced costs through uniformity, understanding, and
Multiple funding sources
Unique state DOT research program, multi-faceted
Key research areas
Agile program to meet agency needs
Embedded in the Iowa DOT culture
Numerous partnerships with universities, agencies,
• “Easy to work with and get things done!”

Sandra Larson: Managing a Research Program from …