The National Academies

NCHRP 23-35 [Pending]

A Guide for Program-Level Risk Management Performance Metrics

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 24 months
Staff Responsibility: Dr. Yi Zhao


Risk within transportation agencies encompasses uncertainties that present opportunities and threats to an agency's mission. Effective risk management relies on quantifying the impacts of these uncertainties. However, current performance measures, like asset condition and safety, might not fully capture the potential for value creation and risk reduction achievable through effective management of these uncertainties.

Several research projects on risk management have been conducted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the NCHRP. However, this body of knowledge primarily concentrates on enterprise risk management itself rather than on quantifying the benefits of risk management.

Research is needed to bridge the gap and develop a framework for program-level risk management performance metrics (e.g., federally funded programs, grant programs, or state or locally funded transportation programs), thereby better quantifying the efficacy of risk management practices. Additionally, the needed research must enhance the data-driven decision-making process and integrate risk management into the daily operations of multimodal transportation agencies.



The objective of this research is to develop a guide to create program-level risk management performance metrics tailored for state departments of transportation (DOTs), accompanied by example performance measures, case studies, and toolkits to drive data-driven decision-making throughout multimodal transportation systems.

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


PHASE I - Preliminary Research

Task 1a. Conduct a comprehensive literature review on risk management practices in transportation agencies and the performance metrics for risk management being used in the transportation industry. The review shall include published and unpublished research conducted through the NCHRP; the FHWA; other national, state, and local agencies; and international organizations; as well as federal regulations and standards such as Title 23 CFR 515 (Asset Management Plans), ISO 31000 (Risk Management), and AASHTO Guide for Enterprise Risk Management Guide (2016) to identify foundational elements for establishing robust risk management metrics.

Task 1b. Collect pertinent information by engaging with a broad spectrum of stakeholders through surveys, interviews, and focus groups to gather insights on existing risk management practices, perceived gaps, and areas for improvement in current metrics. All surveys must be reviewed and approved by the NCHRP before distribution. A roster of potential candidates shall also be provided along with the survey.

Task 2. Synthesize the results of Tasks 1a and 1b to identify the knowledge gaps related to the project objective. These gaps shall be addressed in the final product or the recommended future research as budget permits.

Task 3. Create a preliminary framework to guide the development of program-level performance metrics in risk management. At a minimum, this task shall analyze the following aspects:

  • Risk management criteria for different performance metrics;
  • Risk management practices for varying maturity levels of agencies;
  • Opportunities (e.g., process improvement, innovations, resilience) and threats (e.g., network threats, project delivery uncertainties, and organizational risks) encountered by different agencies and their multimodal assets;
  • Metrics utilizing the current and forecasted data; and 
  • Toolkits for applying these performance metrics.

The proposed framework will inform the development of performance metrics, enabling agencies to measure the efficacy of risk management strategies against a broad spectrum of potential impacts, including asset integrity, safety, operational efficiency, and environmental and economic factors. 

Task 4. Develop an annotated outline for the guide, which will include at least five case studies to encompass the diverse areas of risk identified in Task 3. The annotated outline is intended to provide the foundation, context, and framework for the draft guide development.

Task 5. Prepare Interim Report No. 1 that documents Tasks 1 through 4 and provides an updated work plan for the remainder of the research.


PHASE II – Performance Metrics and Guide Development

Task 6. Develop program-level performance metrics tailored for risk management based on the Phase I approved Interim Report No.1.

Task 7. Execute case studies as identified in Task 4 to evaluate and validate the metrics developed in Task 6.

Task 8. Revise the proposed annotated outline for the guide based on the findings from Tasks 6 and 7 and provide a sample chapter, which will be selected by the NCHRP and shall be publication-ready.

Task 9. Develop a draft guide that includes the framework, case studies, a brochure or executive-level document, and toolkits on the application of the performance metrics. The draft guide shall also include implementation guidance to promote the adoption of program-level performance metrics for risk management and drive improved decision-making throughout the multimodal transportation system. The draft guide shall be submitted to the NCHRP 6 months before the contract end date.

Task 10. Present the research findings to appropriate AASHTO technical committees for comments and propose any revisions to NCHRP. The research team shall anticipate making two presentations during the research to the AASHTO Committee on Performance-Based Management and the Committee on Transportation System Security and Resilience.

Task 11. Refine the guide based on feedback, ensuring the final deliverables are practical, actionable, and aligned with the varying complexities of risk management within multimodal transportation agencies.

Task 12. Prepare the final deliverables, which at a minimum shall include the following:

  • A research report that documents the entire research effort;
  • A guide that includes the framework, case studies, and toolkits on the application of the performance metrics;
  • A brochure or 2-page executive-level document to highlight the potential benefits and the usage of the research project.
  • Outreach materials to support practitioners’ understanding and use of the framework;
  • Two virtual workshops for state DOT staff and other transportation practitioners to disseminate the project’s results. The materials and target audience for the workshop need to be approved by the NCHRP panel before conducting the workshop.
  • Other media and communication materials (presentation, graphics, press releases); and
  • A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.”

STATUS: A research contractor has been selected for the project.  The contracting process is underway.


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