FAQ - ADOT Research Center

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of studies are managed by the Research Center?

Studies primarily focus on research that can be applied directly to improve ADOT processes and products. Research studies address the full range of topics of interest to the department. The Research Center will also consider topics relevant to MPOs, COGs, and local jurisdictions that also advance ADOT objectives.

What is the best way to suggest an idea for a research study?

The process begins with the clear identification of a need, problem, or question related to ADOT’s processes or products. Any transportation stakeholder may suggest an idea for a research study, based on identification of an ADOT need, at any time by contacting Research Center manager Dianne Kresich at [email protected]  or 602-712-3134. For each viable research idea, the manager will assign a project manager to work with stakeholders, develop a research problem statement, and help to identify an appropriate sponsor and champion.

Who conducts ADOT research studies?

Consultants from private sector firms and from universities conduct the studies, which are managed by Research Center staff. A consultant is hired through a competitive process after responding to a request for proposals. Currently, ADOT is not using an on-call consultant contract to procure research consultants. (Studies within a specific range of research topics are conducted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.)

What is the role of the project sponsor and the project champion?

The goal of every research study is to produce implementable results. Every study must have both a sponsor and a champion to ensure support for the project and its implementation. Research Center project managers can assist in the identification of a sponsor and champion for a research idea based on its subject matter and objectives. 

A sponsor must be in a position to have the authority to make decisions on a study’s recommendations, and the ability and commitment to implement them. 

A champion must be a public sector employee who supports the project’s objectives and enables the research activity through active participation in the study. While the project champion is typically an ADOT employee, it is not a requirement.

What is the role of the ADOT project manager?

The ADOT project manager is responsible for guiding the study from conception through completion and for ensuring that scope, schedule, and budget are met. The PM manages the consultant and the review and revision of deliverables. Deliverables are considered complete only after the approval of the ADOT project manager.

What is a technical advisory committee (TAC) and why is it important?

The TAC consists of ADOT subject matter experts, including the sponsor and champion, who critically review the technical content of research deliverables. When appropriate to the study topic, the TAC may also include staff from other public sector agencies. Active participation by TAC members is necessary to ensure that a research study fulfills its objectives.

How is a problem statement different from a scope of work and a proposal?

A problem statement describes an idea for future research, and is presented to the ADOT Research Advisory Committee for consideration of funding. It briefly states the existing problems to be addressed and the objectives that would be met by the requested research. It does not prescribe a methodology, include a scope of work, or call for the use of specific products or providers. In general, a problem statement raises questions that would be answered by the suggested research, but does not presume to know the answers.

A scope of work is a set of objectives-based tasks included in the solicitation for consultants to conduct a research study. Scopes of work, in most cases, do not prescribe a specific methodology. Prospective consultants are asked to develop a methodology to meet the objectives stated in the scope of work.

A proposal is submitted by a potential consultant in response to a solicitation for a specific research study. The contractor proposes a work plan, budget, and schedule with the intent of meeting the stated scope of work. Consultants for research studies are selected based on submitted proposals.

What is the role of the Research Advisory Committee (RAC)?

The RAC consists of staff from the Research Center, various ADOT Divisions, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Membership is intended to represent a wide variety of fields and interests within the department. Working in an advisory capacity, members review problem statements for new research and consider recommendations for funding.

What happens after the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) approves a problem statement for a new research study?

The ADOT project manager, in cooperation with the sponsor and champion, leads the process of identifying TAC members, developing a scope of work, releasing a solicitation, and selecting a consultant to conduct the study.

How is research funded at ADOT?

The FHWA State Planning and Research (SPR) program funds most research projects following the requirements of 23 CFR 420. Those projects are designated as “SPR” plus a project number assigned by the Research Center, e.g, SPR-595.

How do I learn about upcoming ADOT research studies?

Active studies, as well as those that are programmed (funded but not yet assigned to a consultant), are listed online in the Research in Progress database. To learn more about these studies:

  • At the Research in Progress Database, under the heading "Records by Location," select "Find projects sponsored or performed by state DOTs."
  • In the keyword search field, enter ADOT.
    • The resulting list will indicate whether a study is active, programmed (funded but not under contract with a consultant), or completed. 
  • Select a title to display its abstract and other project details.