The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(58) [Completed]

Toward Developing Performance Based Federal-Aid Programs
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $540,000
NCHRP funds were supplemented by FHWA and the TCRP.
Research Agency: Cambridge Systematics, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Lance Neumann
Effective Date: 3/4/2008
Completion Date: 6/30/2012

The United States Congress and the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission (established under federal SAFETEA-LU legislation) sought to examine how well current Federal-aid transportation programs meet certain performance goals. Some state departments of transportation (DOTs) have developed sophisticated management tools and procedures for setting performance targets and using performance-based management in their planning, programming, and other decision making. These tools and procedures may not be well known to other DOTs and the Congress. Research is needed to advance DOT practices for performance-based management of federal-aid transportation programs and to support the work of AASHTO’s leadership in further dissemination and development of best practices. The objective of this research is to work with the AASHTO to (a) describe the current state of practice in performance-based management of federal-aid programs, (b) assess how apportionment formulas and the distribution of federal funding among programs can influence overall performance of federal assistance for which an agency is responsible, and (c) assess how federal-aid programs may be better organized to enable agencies to manage for higher performance.
This project initially entailed a review of current literature on federal agency, DOT, and other transportation agency practices in performance-based budgeting, planning, and management of highway transportation programs, particularly with regard to lessons for highway-program budgeting, planning, and management. The research team worked with AASHTO leadership to develop and refine descriptions of the current state of practice in performance-based budgeting, planning, and management of highway transportation programs and to assess the impact of alternate federal-aid program mixes and apportionment formulas on transportation agencies’ ability to achieve specific performance goals.  Working with AASHTO leadership, the research team undertook to develop alternatives for federal-aid program management to improve agencies’ ability to achieve specific performance goals.  The initial phase of work was essentially completed in March 2009.  A report was delivered to AASHTO. 
Subsequent project phases considered the implications of performance-based management of federal-aid programs for management of urban and metropolitan transportation planning and programming and actions that AASHTO and its member DOTs can take to improve performance through changes in management practices.  The research identifyied the needs and perspectives of local, regional, and state officials with regard to performance-based management of federal-aid programs and alternatives for using or modifying current metropolitan and state planning and programming processes to respond effectively to performance-based management requirements.  A national forum on performance-based planning was held in Dallas, TX, September 2010, to engage metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and local economic development officials with state and federal officials to consider the challenges and opportunities of transforming state and MPO transportation planning and programming to a performance-based process.  A summary report is available for download by clicking here.   Subsequent research activities were intended to advance identification and adoption of a comprehensive set of effective and widely acceptable measures of system performance.  Research to advance adoption of these measures is being pursued in other NCHRP and FHWA research.
In addition to the forum summary report, the research team produced a brief statement comparing transportation system "performance management" and "asset management" to support discussions by the AASHTO Standing Committee on Performance Management (SCOPM).  That document is available for download by clicking here.  The research team assisted SCOPM leadership with development and implementation of the committee's action plan

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