The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(18) [Completed]

Outsourcing of State DOT Delivery of Capital Programs
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $99,992
Research Agency: Science Applications International Corporation
Principal Investigator: David Hensing
Effective Date: 3/28/2002
Completion Date: 4/30/2003

Background: Over the past several years, an increase in state and federal transportation funds has come at the same time that a record number of state transportation professionals are retiring and a declining number of transportation professionals are being educated, particularly civil engineers. This is further compounded by reductions in force occurring in many state agencies.

These factors have contributed to a considerable amount of outsourcing of state DOT functions. Although most states retain overall, ultimate management responsibility of the delivery process, many are beginning to consider delegating some of that responsibility as well.

The challenge is to deliver more projects than ever, in a more complex environment and with state DOT professional staffs that are declining in numbers and experience. There is a need to examine more creative ways to deliver capital projects, but with project management systems in place to ensure that project quality and delivery goals are still being met. State DOTs need to adapt and adopt more creative procurement processes like design-build, the use of general engineering consultants to manage multiple projects, turnkey contracts that rests entire control for project delivery with the consultants, and highway maintenance asset management contracts.

Outsourcing the management of capital program delivery, including project development and highway maintenance, is relatively new to DOTs, with a few exceptions. More data and guidance are needed on outsourcing delivery of capital programs and on processes for evaluating the actual results achieved. Best practices by DOTs need to be identified. Several DOTs are investigating outsourcing and some studies have been done in recent years; nevertheless, a comprehensive study on outsourcing of project delivery functions is needed. In particular, guidance for implementing and monitoring the outsourcing of major program responsibilities needs to be developed for chief executive officers and other top management of state transportation agencies.

Objective: The objective of the study is to develop guidance on the outsourcing of major program responsibility of state transportation agencies. Recommendations for innovative practices in the management and outsourcing of program delivery functions will be a primary focus. A review of current practices and an evaluation of the effectiveness, benefits, and concerns of the outsourcing of primary program delivery functions by DOTs will need to be conducted.

Tasks: Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks: (1) survey current practices by DOTs for outsourcing program delivery functions; (2) develop a process for evaluating the effectiveness of outsourcing state transportation functions; (3) collect data on the effectiveness of outsourcing experiences in state transportation agencies; (4) identify the benefits and concerns of outsourcing of project delivery functions; and (5) develop guidelines for outsourcing project delivery functions by state transportation agencies. The primary target audience will be chief executive officers and other top management of state transportation agencies.

Status: Research is completed.

Product Availability: The agency's revised final report is available online as NCHRP Web Document 59.

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