Volpe Center Highlights
Professional Capacity Building Helps the Transportation Workforce Maintain Its Edge
Transportation professionals are expected to provide efficient, accessible, cost-effective, and safe transportation while adapting to rapidly changing technologies, interacting with diverse groups of stakeholders, and meeting requirements for environmental stewardship and enhanced security.
The DOT plays a critical role in ensuring that local, state, and federal transportation agencies meet these goals; over the last several years that role has begun to change, as exemplified by the Department's implementation of several professional capacity building (PCB) programs. Capacity building uses strategic communications and fosters a climate of partnership to empower the individuals that make up transportation agencies.
The Volpe Center supports several DOT capacity building efforts. Each addresses a key area of workforce expertise:
Throughout the federal government, agencies are expanding their use of capacity building to complement traditional methods of policy implementation such as regulation and funding.
The goal of capacity building is to foster an effective and adaptive transportation workforce that can adjust as circumstances and needs change. As DOT increases its emphasis on program results and resource management, PCB programs provide products and services that help transportation professionals attain and maintain essential skills and commitment. The Volpe Center supports the DOT in developing and implementing capacity building programs. Over the last several years, Volpe's role has expanded; several PCB programs are in various stages of development.
Beyond Training: Tailored and Targeted Learning
Capacity building programs tailor resources and support to the specific needs of particular audiences, and target delivery to only those audiences for whom it is most relevant. Accordingly, capacity building encompasses much more than traditional training. It applies learning theory using a variety of methods, such as:
- Traditional, classroom-based training
- Distance learning
- Peer exchange
- Technical assistance
- Web-based information clearinghouse.
Volpe's Growing Support to PCB
The Volpe Center's involvement in capacity building began in 1996 with the development of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) PCB Program. In 2000, Volpe began supporting the Metropolitan Capacity Building Program, which later expanded to become the Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program. These programs coordinate with stakeholders, including metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), state DOTs, professional associations, the DOT federal headquarters and field staff, local agencies, and academic institutions; and partner with education and training institutions. Typically, Volpe teams are active in each phase of a PCB program cycle, which includes scoping the program, assessing needs and resources, planning and implementing the program, developing products and services, conducting outreach, evaluating program effectiveness, and modifying the program in response to evaluations.
More recently, Volpe's Planning and Policy Analysis Division has begun supporting the development of new PCB efforts in three areas: Roadway Safety, Environment, and Security and Emergency Management.
Intelligent Transportation Systems
Professional Capacity Building Program Cycle. The evolving nature of the PCB approach ensures that each program maintains its relevance and meets the needs of its diverse audience. Typically, Volpe teams are active in each phase of a PCB program approach.
The ITS PCB Program supports successful job performance in the deployment, integration, and operations of ITS, including both technological and institutional requirements. The program also seeks to increase decision-maker understanding of ITS, the transportation planning process, and the business case for ITS. The program sponsor is the ITS Joint Program Office, which works in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Volpe Center has worked closely with the ITS PCB program coordinator to design and implement a comprehensive, nationwide program that evolves in response to the needs of the transportation professionals it serves. The program encompasses training; technical resources such as a searchable database for technical assistance; a peer exchange program; a Web site providing tools, publications, event information, and relevant links; and outreach activities.
Over the last year, as the program's focus has begun to shift from delivering traditional classroom courses to enabling learning through a variety of means, the Center has supported the development of the new PCB Program Five-Year Program Plan. Volpe teams conducted needs assessments to study ITS learning priorities for highway and transit professionals. The first draft report was submitted in November 2004. Findings from these assessments, and from several ITS Learning Forums held throughout the country, will form the foundation for the program's new mission, objectives, and priority actions by year.
Highlights of the ITS PCB Program include the Technical Training by Telephone (T3) Program, which received the "Best of ITS Award Honor" in the Training and Education Category from the Intelligent Transportation Society of America in 2004. The T3 program, which uses innovative technology in net conferencing (Web cast) to deliver short, interactive technical training sessions, has proven to be a quick, low-cost, and efficient method to deliver timely training to ITS stakeholders nationally. Volpe hosts and maintains the ITS PCB Web site, found at http://www.pcb.its.dot.gov.
Ms. Suzanne Sloan, of the Planning and Policy Analysis Division, has guided the evolution of the ITS PCB Program work at Volpe. Ms. Dana Larkin of the Division provides day-to-day management of the Volpe team, which includes Mr. Allan DeBlasio, Ms. Ann Steffes, and Mr. David Jackson, all of the Planning and Policy Analysis Division; Ms. Justyne Johnson of the Telecommunications Division; Mr. Dave Rutyna, Ms. Ingrid Bartinique, Ms. Elizabeth Machek, and Ms. Charity Coleman, all of CASE, LLC (an on-site Volpe contractor); and Ms. Margaret Zirker of Cambridge Systematics, Inc. (an on-site Volpe contractor).
The Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program provides products and services designed to help decision makers, transportation officials, and staff resolve the increasingly complex issues they face when addressing transportation needs in their communities.
The Transportation Planning Capacity Building (TPCB) Program supports effective transportation planning in state, metropolitan, rural, and tribal settings. It provides products and services designed to help decision makers, transportation officials, and staff resolve the increasingly complex issues they face when addressing transportation needs in their communities. The TPCB Program is sponsored by the FHWA and FTA Offices of Planning, and developed and implemented jointly by FTA and FHWA headquarters, the Volpe Center, FHWA divisions, FTA regions, and FHWA resource centers.
The TPCB Program develops, collects, and provides access to high-quality information, training, technical assistance, and examples of effective transportation planning practices, making full use of effective forums for anticipating and responding to issues as they relate to transportation planning capacity building. For example, the TPCB Peer Program facilitates meetings where peers can exchange effective practices and problem-solving techniques. Peer assistance may range from small group discussions to instructional workshops; it is always designed to suit the specific needs of a region, state, or locality. In FY 2004, 17 events were held with a total of 500 participants. For each peer event, Volpe assists in planning, manages all logistics, participates in all sessions, and develops a final report that is published through the TPCB Web site.
The TPCB Web site is a key component of the program, providing a variety of resources, tools, and information to users (http://www.planning.dot.gov). Volpe hosts and maintains the site, measures and evaluates its use, and has developed a number of technical resources resident there, including a searchable database of all MPOs in the country.
The TPCB Program supports development and delivery of training (47 course deliveries in FY 2004). Volpe recently completed development of a seminar on the essentials of metropolitan transportation planning, designed for executive board members of MPOs and other agencies. In October 2004, Volpe participated in the delivery of the pilot seminar, and recently led a train-the-trainer session with FHWA and FTA field staff. The seminar will be available for delivery starting in April 2005.
The Volpe TCPB team is led by Dr. John Boiney of the Planning and Policy Analysis Division. who is supported by Ms. Rachael Barolsky, also of the Division, and Ms. Hope Johnson and Ms. Mirna Gustave, both of CASE, LLC (an on-site Volpe contractor). Mr. Paul Christner of the Planning and Policy Analysis Division manages Volpe's support of the TPCB Peer Program.
New PCB Programs
The Roadway Safety PCB Program is sponsored by the FHWA Office of Safety. Its mission is to develop within the transportation workforce the knowledge, skills, and abilities to improve roadway safety and reduce the number and severity of crashes. To date, the Volpe team has initiated a needs assessment and drafted a framework for the program plan. The team includes Ms. Suzanne Sloan and Mr. Allen DeBlasio of the Planning and Policy Analysis Division, as well as Ms. Elizabeth Machek and Mr. Ben Rasmussen of CASE, LLC (an on-site Volpe contractor).
The Environmental Competency Building Program is sponsored by the FHWA Office of Project Development and Environmental Review. Its mission is to develop and maintain a high level of environmental competency and expertise to deliver FHWA's transportation program. Volpe has completed a needs assessment, a state-of-the-practice report, and a white paper on certification programs. Current work includes developing the program plan, Web site, and outreach materials. The Volpe team is led by Ms. Rachael Barolsky of the Planning and Policy Analysis Division with the support of Mr. Adam Klauber, also of the Division.
The FHWA Office of the Administrator is exploring the possibility of developing a capacity building program for surface transportation security and emergency management. The Volpe Center is providing research and strategic planning services that have included a needs assessment, a database of available training resources, and a draft plan of action. Dr. John Boiney of the Planning and Policy Analysis Division manages this effort; Mr. Matthew Rabkin and Dr. Rachel Winkeller, both of the Division, and Mr. Robert Brodesky of EG&G Technical Services (an on-site Volpe contractor), provide technical analysis and other support.