Development Process


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:

1. Submission

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

2. Discussion and 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.

This state takes place three times per year, according to the annual research calendar.

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.

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 to the Research Request 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.

4. Active Project

Contracts are drawn up and signed, and the research begins!

A visual timeline details the entire process.


We operate on a trimester cycle. Important dates are shown on our Annual Research Calendar.


Topics entering the Project 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.