How to Prioritize Risks and Establish Tolerance

Status: Candidate
Timeframe: Mid-term
Potential Funding: Unspecified


Little information is currently available addressing how state DOTs/MPOs are prioritizing risks and establishing risk tolerance. To safely and effectively manage a DOT, a MPO, or any other transportation organization, rational decisions regarding safety and risk tolerance must be made on a regular basis. Due to the lack of information about how these decisions are currently made, it is impossible to asses which methods for assessing risk are most effective, and how to implement the most effective methods at other DOTs and MPOs.


This research will include MPOs of various sizes and organizational structures and seek to answer:
• Do policy makers understand what “risk” is? How do individual agencies define risk?
• Are there established best practices? What are these practices, and is there a metric in place for evaluating their effectiveness?
• How should practitioners communicate to policy makers and citizens so they can make informed decisions – and understand decisions and tradeoffs.

Research Plan:

The proposed research will consist of:
• A literature review of the current state of risk policies at DOTs and MPOs.
• Several quality case studies of the best practices, as defined by the agency, and an analysis of the effectiveness of such a practice.
Additionally, the research is expected to utilize existing resources to help create an understanding of the best practices to prioritize risks and to establish risk tolerance.

Duration: 18 months
Project Budget: $300,000

Topics: Analytical Tools and Models, Guidance/Lessons Learned
Subjects: General/TAM Practice, Resource Allocation and Program Development, Risk Management