To meet the study objective, the research plan should address the three components outlined below.
I. Successful Practices for Integrating Performance Management, Risk Management, and Asset Management at Transportation Agencies
Federal transportation legislation requires performance, risk, and asset management to influence agency planning and programming priorities. Agencies are advancing on performance management, and making strides on asset management; however, the role of risk management remains unclear to many. Currently, many resources on these topics exist but are not linked. In addition, states are required to follow relevant federal regulations affecting transportation asset management, including recently issued rules under MAP-21 that address preparation and implementation of risk-based asset management plans.
The purpose of this component is to develop resources for state transportation agencies to facilitate integration and optimization of performance, risk, and asset management in combination to improve the effectiveness of transportation agencies. These resources will enable decision makers to economically use these three management approaches to enhance achievement of strategic goals, organizational objectives, and performance targets. These resources should be useful at all levels of the enterprise, from the strategic and tactical to the operational levels, and apply to all major program areas.
The output of this component of the research will be a set of successful practices that integrate performance, risk, and asset management to improve overall outcomes, demonstrating how these practices have been implemented not only with respect to highway transportation but also as applied to other modes. It will summarize successful practices applicable to transportation systems in general, documenting experience applicable from international agencies as well as from other modes, including transit, aviation, marine, and rail— both public and private.
II. Using Case Studies to Identify, Evaluate, and Select Management Frameworks for Implementation by Transportation Agencies
Several standard frameworks for asset, performance and quality management have been developed which have the potential to improve management procedures used by U.S. transportation agencies. These include, but are not limited to, frameworks for managing assets, such as International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard 55000; and other frameworks for performance and quality management such as Balanced Scorecard, Triple Bottom Line, Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, and ISO standard 9001. By adapting and applying relevant aspects of these various frameworks, transportation agencies have the potential to leverage the knowledge and experience built across a wide array of different organizations to manage transportation assets more effectively, better tie asset performance to agency goals and objectives, and deliver better results more efficiently.
At its core, transportation asset management shares many of the basic concepts of these management frameworks, as exemplified through its emphasis on concepts such as making investment decisions based on quality data and on continuous process improvement. Further, the AASHTO Transportation Asset Management Guide: A Focus on Implementation provides a brief discussion relating several of the most common frameworks to transportation asset management; however, the available high-level guidance is of limited use for agencies seeking to fully integrate asset management practices into their evolving management framework. Moreover, transportation agencies face a number of specific challenges and requirements not addressed in the guidance for implementing the standard frameworks–as most were initially developed for the private sector. Consequently, agency leaders are left in a situation in which they are highly familiar with the underlying concepts needed for improving how their agencies are managed, but lack specific procedures and tools needed to implement some of the best-established approaches.
Under this component of the study, research is needed to establish how transportation agencies can best implement emerging management frameworks that successfully integrate asset management into agency decision making. This research will generate case studies of how agencies have incorporated asset management via the implementation of relevant management processes. The research will also evaluate the case studies to determine effective procedures for implementation. As a result, these case studies will help transportation agencies leverage existing resources by improving management approaches, thereby improving transportation asset management outcomes in general.
III. How to Recruit, Train, and Retain Human Capital to Support Asset Management and Related Functions
As a multidisciplinary, holistic practice, TAM applies a different approach to managing transportation infrastructure investments. Implementation of TAM enables agencies to share processes, data, and management systems across traditional discipline stovepipes. Additionally, TAM brings with it new expectations, new fields of expertise, and emerging technologies.
Agencies have customarily been organized and staffed around specific technical skills, such as engineering, data collection and analysis, planning, budget, and accounting. Successful implementation of TAM, however, requires effective coordination across internal organizational boundaries encompassing multiple disciplines. Thus, innovations in TAM are leading to changes in organizational structure at transportation agencies, requiring employees to have different skill sets than in the past. Consequently, these new skill sets translate into a need for employees trained accordingly. As agencies continue their implementation of TAM principles, they face the difficult task of recruiting, training, and maintaining TAM human capital.
The focus of the third component of the study is to provide agencies with a description of human capital skills needed to implement key aspects of TAM. These skills include, but are not necessarily limited to, economic analysis, life-cycle planning, risk management, data integration, modeling, performance management, target setting, and multiple objective decision analysis. The product of this component will assist agencies in identifying those critical skills required and provide guidance on effective implementation of TAM, including an emphasis on coordination.