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The National Academies

NCHRP 02-27 [Active]

Making Targets Matter: Managing Performance to Enhance Decision-Making

  Project Data
Funds: $530,000
Additional funds ($120,000) have been reserved for validation and refinement of the resources developed in this project, subject to NCHRP acceptance of the resources and dissemination plan.
Staff Responsibility: Leslie C. Harwood
Research Agency: High Street Consulting Group
Principal Investigator: Joe Crossett
Effective Date: 2/11/2019
Completion Date: 4/10/2021

BACKGROUND
 
Transportation agencies increasingly are adopting Transportation Performance Management (TPM) principles to ensure that good resource allocation decisions are made concerning transportation system development and operations to produce the performance outcomes desired by the agency, its external partners, elected officials, and the public. For purposes of this research, transportation agencies may be state departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan transit or public transportation agencies (MTAs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and other government entities responsible for managing transportation system performance.
 
Wherever it is applied, TPM encourages accountability and helps determine what results are to be pursued, how information from past performance levels and forecast conditions are used to guide investments, how progress toward strategic goals is measured and reported, and how needs for adjustments to improve performance are recognized and acted on. Effective TPM is grounded in sound data and information management, effective communication and collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, and decision-making based on shared understanding among policy makers and operational managers of performance goals and objectives.
 
A core element of TPM is defined performance targets that connect investment decisions to system results in a manner that is transparent to all stakeholders. Targets are used to assess progress toward achieving strategic goals, guide planning efforts, inform programmatic decisions and adjustments, and communicate with stakeholders. Target setting and performance reporting practices continue to evolve and recently have become cornerstones of USDOT regulatory efforts required under federal legislation. Work sponsored by FHWA, NCHRP, and others has produced resources for practitioners working to address how an agency may judge whether performance trends indicate that targets are being met, to communicate about such matters with stakeholders, or to assist agency determination of whether current funding allocations are likely to improve achievement of performance targets.  
 
Despite progress in developing such resources, practitioners nevertheless lack adequate tools and methods for establishing an effective feedback loop between observed performance and agency performance management decisions. Such feedback can be used by agencies to maintain or adjust their management strategies (and subsequent planning, programming, and target-setting decisions) to ensure that agency goals and objectives are met. 
 
OBJECTIVES
 
The objectives of this research are to (1) assess the state of transportation agency practices regarding use of targets in their transportation performance management (TPM) decision making, monitoring performance results, and as necessary adjusting management strategies and desired target levels; and (2) develop resources that agency practitioners can use to implement and maintain a process of monitoring performance and making management decisions based on comparisons of targets and observed system performance. Such resources could include, for example, guidebooks, web-based publications, prototypical planning scenarios, interactive computational tools, and visualization tools.
 
RESEARCH PLAN
 
The research will entail (1) a critical review of relevant current practice in monitoring of performance relative to established targets and use of such monitoring in decision-making; (2) four regional peer-exchanges to engage state DOT, MPO, and transit agency stakeholders in discussions of agencies’ TPM skill levels, processes, and tools for linking transportation system performance targets and achievement; (3) development of guidance and web application to facilitate agency target attainment; and (4) development of documentation and other materials to support agency adoption and use of the guidance and decision-support applications developed.
 
STATUS (February 2021)

Draft final deliverables have been received and are being reviewed.

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