The National Academies

NCHRP 20-123(18) [Active]

Development of a New Transportation System Operations Strategic Plan
[ NCHRP 20-123 (Support for AASHTO Committees and Councils) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $221.261
Staff Responsibility: Dr. Zuxuan Deng
Research Agency: Gannett Fleming
Principal Investigator: Patrick Son
Effective Date: 4/6/2023
Completion Date: 4/5/2024


The current American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Committee on Transportation System Operations (CTSO) strategic plan (relevant documentations can be found online at: https://onlinepubs.trb.org/Onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/CTSODocuments.zip) has many goals, each with a series of strategic initiatives and proposed implementation actions that were intended to be updated annually. In the spring and summer of 2020, CTSO’s leadership identified a series of cross-cutting themes:

  1. Cooperative Automated Transportation Coalition (CAT)/ Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) alignment;
  2. Research to build on existing practices;
  3. National Operations Center of Excellence's (NOCoE) role to encourage outreach and knowledge transfer;
  4. Capture of best practices to benchmark TSMO;
  5. The value of Regional Operations Leadership Forum (ROLF) and the Transportation Operations Manual (TOM) as foundational to the TSMO workforce and effective practices;
  6. Alignment of TSMO and safety; and
  7. The importance freight operations within TSMO.

The CTSO’s leadership further challenged its working groups to develop 2020/2021 action plans rather than update its implementation actions within each goal. This thematic approach has made it easier for CTSO working groups to review their portfolio, identify tasks, monitor their progress, and ensure effective collaboration among working groups and other AASHTO committees.

AASHTO also released an updated 2021-2026 Strategic Plan (https://aashtosp.wpengine.com/). This has led to a larger conversation about how best CTSO might engage strategically in the future, and what the implications are for its current planning structure and process.

AASHTO’s CTSO leadership believe it is important to develop a new strategic plan that reflects the continuing, fast-paced development of the TSMO field and the Committee’s learnings on how best to support these developments. This new approach is not easily supported by the current strategic plan’s structure, hence the need to overhaul rather than simply revise it.


This project objectives are to: (1) develop a new, comprehensive 5-year strategic plan for CTSO and (2) develop a multi-year action plan to implement the 5-year strategic plan for CTSO.

The strategic plan will build upon the existing plan and should be publication-ready with a purpose statement and a charter. At the minimum, the research shall include the following:

  1. A review and strategic alignment of CTSO structure and its sub-committees and community of practices to refresh the CTSO structure;
  2. Engagement activities for the CTSO’ sub-committee stakeholders, practitioner community, and other AASHTO committees and councils to solicit their feedback and input; and
  3. A multi-year action plan to implement the proposed strategic plan.

 Accomplishment of the project objectives will require at least the following tasks.


PHASE I—Planning

Task 1.  Participate in a kick-off web-enabled meeting with the NCHRP project panel and present the Amplified Research Plan (due 2 weeks from the contract’s execution date) to the panel for approval.

Task 2. Conduct Strategic Planning Scan.

  1. Review the existing scope and existing activities and resources of CTSO;
  2. Review any existing CTSO documents, which may include purpose statement, charter, current and old strategic plans, operating guidelines, committee research roadmaps, and other related documents. The review shall include the committee activities and accomplishments since inception;
  3. Review the new AASHTO Strategic Plan and identify themes and components that CTSO’s new plan should incorporate and coordinate with relevant groups;
  4. Review the CTSO’s cross cutting thematic approach, launched in the autumn of 2020 and how it should inform a new strategic plan;
  5. Examine relationship between CTSO and NCHRP Project 20-102, “Research Roadmap for Impacts of Connected Vehicles and Automated Vehicles on State and Local Transportation Agencies”;
  6. Coordinate with the contractor for NCHRP Project 20-123(12), “System Mobility and Emerging Technologies (SMET): Strategic Planning Session and Research Roadmap Development”; and
  7. Review documentation summarizing major ongoing initiatives of CTSO, TOM and ROLF, and the new Technical Services Program (TSP), all of which will be balloted by AASHTO CTSO in 2022 and voted on by the AASHTO Board of Direction at the upcoming annual meeting.

Task 3. Propose an engagement strategy limited to CTSO’s leadership and membership to solicit their feedback and input for creating the strategic plan and action plans. The proposer should be creative in determining how to gather CTSO’s feedback and input.

Task 4. Identify and consider relevant emerging trends and issues in TSMO, safety and mobility. Examples include the current policy priorities, new legislation, regulation, and congressional authorization and their impact on state departments of transportation (DOTs) and their implementation of TSMO and mobility services, as well as the CTSO’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Task 5. Develop a comprehensive methodology, to be executed in Phase II, to achieve the research objectives based on the results from Tasks 1 to 4. At a minimum, the methodology shall include the following:

  1. A step-by-step process to develop and deploy the essential elements of standard strategic plan;
  2. A step-by-step process to identify the CTSO short- and long-term goals;
  3. A step-by-step process to review the committee’s current structure and the restructuring process; and
  4. A process to identify and engage internal and external stakeholders to identify the important issues, gaps, and concerns.

Task 6. Develop an annotated outline for the proposed strategic plan to be developed in Phase II.

Task 7. Prepare Interim Report No. 1 that documents Tasks 1 through 6 and provides an updated work plan for the remainder of the research. This report must be submitted no later than 4 months after contract execution. The updated work plan must describe the process and rationale for the work proposed for Phase II.


PHASE II—Development and Final Products

Task 8. Execute the developed methodology and follow the annotated outlines according to the approved Interim Report No.1. Submit draft strategic plan that includes operating guidelines, a research roadmap (for short- and long-term goals that can be used by CTSO to focus its efforts to foster, support, monitor, disseminate, and implement research) and action plans for review and approval by NCHRP no later than 3 months after approval to start Phase II.

Task 9. Engage CTSO leadership and members according to the engagement strategy developed in Task 3, to solicit feedback and input and to revise the strategic plan and action plans.

Task 10. Develop the final deliverables based on comments received from Task 9. The draft final deliverables are due no later than 6 months after approval of Phase II and should include the following:

  1.  The proposed AASHTO CTSO strategic plan and action plans;
  2. A final report that summaries the entire project effort; and
  3. Presentation materials with which to present the strategic plan to CTSO and AASHTO leadership. It should also include content usable for engaging CTSO’s working groups and communities of practice to enable a clear understanding of how the strategic plan offers direction and insight to the constituent parts of CTSO. 


STATUS: Work has been initiated. 


To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=5265