The Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) is a national-level highway information system that includes data reported by states departments of transportation (DOTs) on the extent, condition, performance, use and operating characteristics of the nation's highways. This system is used by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to report national highway conditions, primarily pavement condition, to Congress every two years, to generate annual summary statistics that are posted on the FHWA website, and to quantify system characteristics used for formula-based funding programs. Although FHWA does not use HPMS to compare pavement performance among states, others have used the information to conduct such comparisons.
Some DOTs have observed that HPMS-based reports of their states’ performance and trends of performance over time differ from what the DOT produces for its own use, for example through a state’s pavement management system. DOTs have expressed concern that data sources and collection procedures differ from state to state, making comparisons of states’ performance difficult or meaningless. Studies in the NCHRP 20-24(37) series have explored and verified such concerns.
Further, DOTs have suggested that processing of their data to conform to FHWA input specifications may introduce anomalies that cause the state’s performance as reported by HPMS to differ from the state’s own assessment. Among the reasons cited for such problems are frequency and timing of reporting, reporting for only one direction of travel or only the outside lane of multi-lane highways, sampling rates, measurement methods, and data-conversion procedures.
As part of the HPMS Reassessment conducted in 2007 and 2008, states were given an opportunity to identify issues for FHWA consideration as the new HPMS reporting requirements were developed. Many DOTs suggested that issues identified were not adequately addressed.
Were it not for such concerns, many DOTs might be willing to make greater use of HPMS reporting to support their own pavement management decision making. It would in any case be advantageous to the DOTs and FHWA if results from HPMS were more closely matched by the overall evaluation from each state’s own pavement management system.
The objective of this study was to identify actions that could be taken to increase confidence in and use of the HPMS as a national source for reporting on pavement performance. The research team
reviewed comments provided to FHWA during the the agency's HPMS reassessment effort regarding pavement data; conducted a survey of states to assess the level of confidence with the reports of their states' pavement performance produced by HPMS and specific concerns regarding inconsistencies between HPMS reports and performance reports produced with state data and methods; recruited a representative set of volunteer states to take part in a comparison of HPMS data and reporting with the states’ pavement condition data reporting; compared data sources and analyses underlying HPMS- and state-produced performance reports to identify consequent differences in reported performance trends; and identifed steps that might be taken to reduce any inconsistencies between states’ pavement performance as reported by HPMS versus state methods. The research team's final report may be downloaded by clicking here.