The AASHTO Subcommittee on Asset Management is seeking to implement the recently completed Transportation Asset Management Research Roadmap (TAM Research Roadmap), developed under the NCHRP 08-36 quick response research program. The TAM Research Roadmap was developed in cooperation with AASHTO, TRB, USDOT, and other industry partners. It includes a multi-year research agenda to improve the overall implementation of transportation asset management at state, regional, and local transportation agencies. The purpose of the TAM Research Roadmap is to enable the TAM community to identify, propose, and implement TAM research projects necessary to improve the understanding of TAM and allow projects to be funded through various research programs including NCHRP, USDOT funding sources, and other sources.
The practice of performance, risk, and asset management has evolved over many years. MAP-21 and the recently passed FAST Act, associated rules, and guidance have clarified the federal asset management requirements. Beyond federal requirements, broader research and practice in the areas of transportation performance, risk, and asset management initiated by state DOTs and other public and private entities have added to the availability of tools, methods, and strategies. Yet, practitioners continue to struggle with integration and implementation of research findings and regulatory requirements. This state of the practice, coupled with a detailed gap analysis, was the focus of the TAM Research Roadmap. To address identified gaps, additional research is needed to implement effective transportation management practices and identify human capital needs at state DOTs, regional organizations, and local agencies. The research proposed in this study was identified within the Research Roadmap and is designed to fill gaps in several high-priority areas.
The objective of this research is to provide transportation agencies with practical guidance, recommendations, and successful implementation practices for
1. Integrating performance, risk, and asset management at transportation agencies;
2. Identifying, evaluating, and selecting appropriate management frameworks; and
3. Recruiting, training, and retaining human capital to support asset management and related functions.
The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe a research plan that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must represent the proposer’s current thinking described in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach in meeting the research objective.
The Research Plan should present a proposed scope of work for all three components of the objective, divided into two phases, with discrete tasks for each phase. Phase I will comprise approximately 50% of the research effort, covering all initial tasks and preliminary results sufficient to indicate a realistic direction for the overall study. Phase I will culminate in an Interim Report that will present the results of the initial components of the research, including a detailed, annotated outline or description of the deliverables, and an updated work plan for completion of all deliverables in Phase ll. A face-to-face interim meeting with the NCHRP panel will be scheduled at the conclusion of Phase I to discuss and approve the Interim Report. Work on Phase ll tasks will not begin until the updated work plan is approved by NCHRP. The project schedule will include 1 month for NCHRP review and approval of the Interim Report.
The research plan should include but not be limited to the following:
1. A kick-off teleconference meeting of the research team and the NCHRP project panel, to be held within 1 month of the contract’s execution date;
2. A literature review that identifies and summarizes key products of previous research;
3. The aforementioned Interim Report which presents the products of Phase I, including a preliminary detailed, annotated outline and description of expected deliverables;
4. Final version of the deliverables that fulfills the project objective, including a separate report documenting the conduct of the research; and
5. A PowerPoint or similar presentation describing the project background, objective, research method, findings, and conclusions.
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.
The final deliverables should integrate the three components of the study into a cohesive review of management procedures and implementation, including recommendations for future research. Final deliverables will be submitted in two stages: (1) draft final deliverables for review and comment by the panel, and (2) revised final deliverables following that review and incorporating proposed changes as appropriate.
Final deliverables will include, but not be limited to, the following:
1. A guidance document with supporting material to address the objective of this research;
2. A contractor’s final report documenting the entire project, incorporating all other specified deliverables of the research, including recommendations on priorities for additional research;
3. Electronic presentation of the guidance material that can be tailored for specific audiences; and
4. A stand-alone technical memorandum titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note B for additional information).
Proposers may recommend additional deliverables in support of the project objective.
The required implementation plan will be directed at the desired target audience: State DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and other transportation agencies. The key decision makers who can approve, influence, or champion implementation of these research products are the senior staff and CEOs of the transportation agencies. The AASHTO committees that will be involved in the adoption and implementation of the results will be the Committee on Planning, the Committee on Performance-Based Management, and the Subcommittee on Asset Management.
STATUS: The final report has been delivered and is in preparation for publication, expected by the end of the summer 2021.