Evaluation of the Federal Railroad
Administration R&D Program
An ad hoc committee will conduct a review and
evaluation of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Research and
Development (R&D) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to assess
R&D products and services to the agency and railroad industry. Congress
funds FRA R&D to contribute to the DOT's strategic goals, the principal of
which is improved safety. Thus, the goal of this biennial review and assessment
is to provide strategic feedback to the Office of R&D for program
improvement and planning purposes with specific emphasis on: 1) validating FRA's
process to identify new priorities for addressing emerging safety issues and
trends, and 2) evaluating the feasibility, usefulness, effectiveness, and impact
of R&D products and services in railroad safety. The committee will
evaluate each of the four major division areas (Track, Rolling Stock, Signals,
Train Control and Communications, and Human Factors), including cross-division
efforts, and R&D support functions (planning, evaluation, and management).
In gathering information and conducting its evaluation, the committee
will examine existing reports, documents, data-bases and other related material
in the public domain and organize presentations from industry representatives
and program managers through face-to-face meetings and conference calls.
Illustrative projects or programs within each division may be used as case
studies to highlight successful applications of research and to identify common
lessons learned that could be more broadly applicable across divisions.
As inputs to the committee's assessment of the four FRA divisions and
R&D support functions, it will address the following questions:
what extent has the Office of R&D excelled in engaging, maintaining
communication with, and using inputs from the full range of stakeholder
2. To what extent does R&D excel in conducting and using
results from needs assessments and diagnostic studies to prioritize, focus, and
plan projects and programs?
3. To what extent has R&D's planning
support function defined a sound mission and associated goals and priorities
that reflect assessed safety needs in the railroad industry?
what extent is R&D sufficiently flexible and responsive in addressing
changing economic, political, social, and technological contexts? (Question does
not apply to planning and evaluation support functions.)
5. To what
extent does R&D's current and planned portfolio and budget appropriately
address its defined mission, goals, and priorities?
6. To what extent is
the Office of R&D sufficiently staffed and funded in accordance with its
mission and priorities to effectively carry out all of its programs and program
support functions at a high level of quality?
7. To what extent is the
R&D Office's science and engineering work of excellent technical merit and
quality, and appropriate and feasible for implementation? (Question does not
apply to R&D support functions.)
8. To what extent are R&D
services and products being used and/or adopted by the railroad industry both
internal and external to FRA? (Question does not apply to R&D support
9. How effectively have R&D services and products helped
the railroad industry improve safety and reduce fatalities? (Question does not
apply to R&D support functions.)
10. To what extent does the Office
of R&D evaluate its services and products prior to or during an
implementation to help improve their usability and likelihood of adoption by
11. To what extent is the Office of R&D effective in
providing its key stakeholders with summative evaluation reports, technical
reports, conference presentations, and other communications that validly assess
R&D efforts, impacts, and cost-benefits?
The committee's first letter
report will include descriptive assessments and constructive comments on the
evaluation questions. The letter will present a holistic assessment of the
Office of R&D, the individual divisions, and the R&D support functions.
The letter may provide recommendations to FRA on how to improve its processes
for selecting and executing projects and delivering value from its R&D
program. It may also provide direction on where the committee thinks the
program should be headed in the future.
During the period of
performance, FRA intends to hold a two-day public meeting to present its R&D
program to stakeholders of the R&D program. The committee's second letter
report will evaluate the content, organization and delivery of the public
session. In doing so, the committee will consider the evaluation of the public
R&D review held in 2012 (see, Summary of Evaluation Findings, 2012 FRA
Research and Development Review by Fulcrum Corporation).
The projected is
funded by U.S. Department of Transportation. The first letter report will be
issued in approximately 12 months, and the second letter report will be issued
at the end of the project in approximately 24 months.
Revenue Variable Engineering, LLC
Director, Railway Technologies Laboratory
Director, Railroad Engineering Program
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Vice President of Transportation – Northern Region
Union Pacific Railroad Company
Norfolk Southern Corporation
Railway Engineering Professional (ret.)
Carnegie Mellon University
E. Keith Holt
Deputy Chief Engineer, Communications & Signals
Director of Policy, Research and Risk, and Deputy CEO
Rail Safety and Standards Board
Edward La Guardia
Chief Engineer – Rail and Transit
Michael Baker International
Vice President, Operations Manager South
Gannett Fleming Transit and Rail Systems
Director, Office of Rail Transportation
Iowa Department of Transportation
Professor and Chair, Department of Civil Engineering
Associate Director / Research Scientist
New England University Transportation Center, MIT
National Legislative Director
United Transportation Union
Director of Regulatory Affairs
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen
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