Idea Development Process

Here's How it Works

Iowa DOT Research is constantly looking for ways to keep Iowa’s transportation system on the cutting-edge of safety, mobility, sustainability, and technology.

Before a project can begin, it must follow a thorough development process. Here’s how it works and how you can help:

Stage 1. Submission

Research topics can be submitted by anyone (within or beyond the department) at any time through our Research Ideas site.

Stage 2. Discussion & Evaluation

While ideas are in the open feedback state, anyone can provide written comments or vote on a proposed topic and help make it better.

After the open feedback period closes, Iowa DOT Research Department staff and other stakeholders review the topics and all of the input received to gauge interest and determine which ideas should move forward.

Stage 3. Development

Next, the Project Development Group, consisting of two to five team members, takes the originally submitted idea and builds it into a more robust Request for Proposal (RFP).

The RFP is posted on the Requests for Proposal page and anyone who has subscribed to these notifications will receive an email.

After the RFP submission period has ended, the Project Development Group reviews all of the responses and chooses the one that will earn the project.

The winning proposer is notified and funding for the project is requested.


Research topics entering the Development stage follow a process to expand the submitted topic idea into a request for proposal and ultimately into a contract with an investigator. The process is shown on our Project Development Flowchart.

Stage 4. Active Project

A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is formed for each active project to serve as subject matter experts, overseeing and providing support to the project. Membership consists of a project champion and representatives from DOT, counties, cities, FHWA, and industry partners.


Iowa DOT Research operates on a trimester cycle. The research cycle and important dates are available in our Annual Research Calendar.


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