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Vdot news - June 4



CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – The Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation has selected the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Knowledge Management program as one of 15 finalists in its 2008 Innovations in American Government Awards competition.

The competition recognizes the best in government innovation from all levels of the public sector. Picked from nearly 1,000 applicants and 50 semi-finalists, VDOT’s program is the only government program in Virginia and only state department of transportation in the nation selected for this honor.

“VDOT is changing to better serve the demands of a 21st-century transportation system,” said Commissioner David S. Ekern. “Our Knowledge Management program has resulted in improved best practices and thus has improved our overall performance – saving time and money.”

VDOT initiated its Knowledge Management program in 2003, initially to stem the loss of institutional memory as a growing number of long-time employees began to retire. Another 30 percent of VDOT’s workforce is expected retire in the next five years.

The practice of knowledge management is the sharing and use of an organization’s intellectual capital, or the knowledge and experience of its employees, to increase effectiveness and efficiency.

“Explicit knowledge – what is written and documented – is easy to access,” stated Dr. Maureen Hammer, VDOT’s Knowledge Management director. “Tacit knowledge – information that people store in their memories and is based on experiences – is harder to track and record.”

Hammer and her staff collect this information in the form of lessons learned and best practices for VDOT. The department also sets up “communities of practice” for employees with common backgrounds but in different jobs and locations throughout the agency to address and share mutual concerns.

Established in 1985 at the Harvard Kennedy School by the Ford Foundation, the Innovations in American Government Awards program is designed to improve government practice by honoring effective government initiatives and encouraging the dissemination of such best practices across the country. In September, the Harvard Kennedy School will announce the six 2008 finalists.


VDOT’s Knowledge Management Division is centrally located in Charlottesville to provide better access for all agency employees throughout the state. It is at 530 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, Va. 22903; telephone (434) 293-1987. More information is at

The Roy and Lila Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, publications, leadership training, global network and awards program – developed in collaboration with a diverse, engaged community of scholars and practitioners - the Ash Institute fosters creative and effective government problem-solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. The Ford Foundation is a founding donor of the Institute. Additional information is at

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