While precise definitions vary among practitioners, “transportation system management and operations” (TSM&O, or simply TSMO) comprises generally a collection of technologies, services, and operating strategies aimed at delivering reliable, safe, and efficient transportation and timely information to travelers and shippers to enable them to make informed decisions to minimize their unexpected delay and improve the safety of their travel. As an area of professional practice, TSMO is a multifaceted approach to maintaining and improving the capacity, security, safety, and reliability of our multimodal transportation system. TSMO practice has increased in scope and prominence as practitioners have developed and adapted increasingly sophisticated ways of applying electronics, communication, information management, and data analytics technologies to enhance the capabilities and performance of our transportation infrastructure. State departments of transportation (DOTs) and other agencies responsible for that infrastructure face growing needs for a fully competent workforce to provide TSMO technical and managerial expertise as staff members and consultants. Recruiting and developing such expertise is complicated by generational shifts within the larger professional and technical workforce and the rapid pace of technological innovation as well as by the particular challenges government agencies face in a competitive labor market.
The National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) was organized as a partnership of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA), with support from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The partnership works to provide resources and services to support the TSMO professional community. Under the NOCoE's auspices, a diverse group of practitioners, agency managers, human resource (HR) specialists, professional education and training specialists, and professional service providers have sought to identify viable actions to encourage and influence development of resources to support rapid evolution of the TSMO workforce.
This NCHRP project was undertaken to produce resources and guidance—for DOTs and others (such as educational institutions, consultants)—for development of TSMO capabilities in several specific areas: model position descriptions for describing DOT staff at entry-level and advanced levels of TSMO responsibilities, supporting documentation for characterizing TSMO entry-level and advanced technical and management positions, and guidance on effective and exemplary practices for recruitment, professional development, and retention of TSMO staff. These materials were provided to the NOCoE.