Exploratory advanced research includes foundational work that anticipates the questions and future needs in applied research or the application of innovations from other industries to the transportation sector.
Under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed partnerships with the public and private sectors. Furthermore, the nature of exploratory advanced research stimulates the use of partnerships to apply ideas across traditional fields of research and engage new approaches to problem solving. As a result, FHWA has sought and will continue to seek research partners through extensive outreach. FHWA wants to ensure all competent entities are aware of the solicitation and have an opportunity to compete for the work.
To ensure the highest technical merit, FHWA plans to continue to use peer review panels to evaluate solicitations. The panels are comprised of Federal, State, academic, and international scientific and engineering experts, who have been vetted to avoid potential conflicts of interest. The panels frequently include multiple disciplines to better assess cross-applications and novel approaches to research. In addition to the peer review, a multidisciplinary management group within FHWA also assesses the mission focus and overall balance of projects within each round of research funding.