Subject: TxDOT Research Program and Out-of-State Travel
As stated in the Research and Implementation Manual (Chapter 11, Section 3), requests for the Research and Technology Implementation Office (RTI) to cover out-of-state travel costs must be submitted in writing at least two weeks prior to the travel. Since Project Director (PD) approval is also required, additional time should be allowed so that the PD has time to review and so that requests arrive to RTI at least two weeks prior to the travel.
It is important that the PD approve the travel and associated costs, preferably prior to submitting the request to RTI because it speeds up the process. The researcher has a better understanding of the need for the travel and can more effectively discuss the need with the PD. If the PD does not approve, it saves the researcher the time it takes to submit the request to RTI. If the PD does approve, a statement from the PD attached to the request hastens the approval process within RTI. However, RTI still needs at least two weeks prior to the date of travel for internal approval processes.
Please work with the university researchers to make sure that they are aware of this requirement. I have been receiving many requests a few days before the travel date. This does not allow adequate time for review and approval. If I do not receive the request in a timely manner, I will not be able to approve it.
In addition, please make sure that the benefits to TxDOT and to the project paying for the travel are clearly spelled out. I will be looking closely at these reasons and may not approve them if the benefit to TxDOT is not clear. I will also be looking closely at requests where two people from the same university are requesting travel to the same meeting or conference.
As you can imagine, out-of-state travel is subject to scrutiny by many sources. Since TxDOT is responsible for the expenditure of these research program funds, we need to be comfortable that these funds are being spent effectively and to the benefit of TxDOT. Further, if questions arise about these expenditures, I would be the one to answer to TxDOT Administration and others so it is important that I have good documentation should this occur.
Your attention to and cooperation in this matter is sincerely appreciated. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Rick Collins, P.E.
Director, Research and Technology
Texas Department of Transportation
125 E 11th Street
Austin, TX 78701-2483