The National Academies

NCHRP 23-37 [Pending]

Integrating Performance Management, Risk Management, and Process Improvement: A Guide

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 30 month
Staff Responsibility: Jennifer L. Weeks


In recent years, transportation agencies have developed knowledge and skills in the application of three disciplines: performance management, risk management, and process improvement. The high-level definitions of these three disciplines are as follows:

  • Performance management is the practice of using measurements to track progress toward established goals. The dissemination of reporting and insights supports evidence-based decision-making and provides transparency to stakeholders.
  • Risk management is a methodology that looks at uncertainties on all levels, including activity, project, program, and strategic risks. Risk management aims to identify, assess, and respond to potential pitfalls that affect transportation systems, operations, and objectives.
  • Process improvement involves the business practice of defining, analyzing, and improving processes, products, and services to optimize performance and improve the experience for the end users.

While these disciplines are heavily researched and applied individually, little research has taken place regarding the relationship between the three efforts and the benefits and challenges of integrating them. Generally, the steps of each discipline are established and treated separately within the specific system, which may limit efficiency, create redundancies, and disrupt plans due to mixed messages. Integrating the functions and relationships among the disciplines could provide efficiencies across agencies and align agency decisions and practices more readily to overarching goals and objectives. Research is needed to reveal the potential benefits and opportunities for integrating risk management, performance management, and process improvements by transportation agencies, including identifying the practices, methods, and data requirements of doing so. This research will be particularly useful to transportation agency executives, managers, and practitioners seeking to proactively integrate risk management, performance management, and process improvements to meet agency goals and objectives.


The objective of this research is to develop a guide to assist transportation agencies with integrating risk management, performance management, and process improvements. The practical guide must

  1. Feature a decision framework applicable to integration of the three disciplines in enterprise-level, program-level, and project-level decision-making;
  2. Identify the relationship of the three disciplines, including common purposes or areas of focus that could be integrated to inform decision-making and practice;
  3. Present the business case for linking these disciplines, including but not limited to meeting federal and state mandates;
  4. Define the obstacles and opportunities to integrating the disciplines; and
  5. Determine the best communication tools to support application of the framework by transportation agencies.


The research plan should (1) include a kick-off teleconference with the research team and NCHRP to review the amplified research plan; (2) address the manner in which the proposer intends to satisfy the project objective; (3) be divided logically into detailed tasks that are necessary to fulfill the research objective, including appropriate milestones and interim deliverables; (4) include one in-person meeting (convened by NCHRP) to review the interim report and other deliverables; (5) include a final teleconference to review draft final deliverables; and (6) incorporate opportunities for the project panel to review, comment, and approve milestone deliverables. 


Phase I

Task 1. Conduct a comprehensive literature review from transportation and related industries in the public and private sectors within the United States and internationally. The literature review should at a minimum accomplish the following:

  • Characterize the risk management, performance management, and process improvement disciplines and their purposes in transportation;
  • Identify the use of language and terminology within each discipline, including language differences that could cause confusion;
  • Identify the relationships between and common ground among the three disciplines;
  • Identify experience with the integration of risk, performance, and process improvements both within and outside the transportation industry, including examples of the data and methods that are being used; and
  • Identify the benefits and costs of discipline integration.

Task 2. Plan, execute, and document practitioner outreach to specifically identify whether and where the integration of risk management, performance management, and process improvement is being performed; which agency functions are involved; how success is defined and measured; how the integration performs; and what gaps exist in knowledge and practical methods for integrating the disciplines. 

Task 3. Prepare a state-of-practice technical memorandum for panel review using the data and information collected in Tasks 1 and 2, specifically identifying the following:

  • The extent to which transportation agencies are seeking to integrate risk management, performance management, and process improvements;
  • The strategies, data, and methods that have been successfully used to integrate the disciplines;
  • The types of decisions affected by integrating the disciplines;
  • The lessons learned from the integration;
  • The gaps in knowledge and practice with respect to integrating the three disciplines; and
  • The obstacles and opportunities for implementation by transportation agencies.

Task 4. Prepare an annotated outline of the guide to be shared with the panel during the interim meeting as specified in Task 5.

Task 5. Prepare an interim report and a proposed Phase II work plan that details the research process, data collected, and data analysis conducted in Tasks 1-4, specifying gaps in knowledge or practical methods that should be researched during Phase II. The Phase II work plan shall include tasks to address these gaps and fulfill the requirement for validation of the proposed framework in practice as provided in Task 7. This report and the Task 4 deliverables will be presented at an in-person interim meeting to be convened by NCHRP in Washington, D.C. The research team shall revise any of the deliverables from Tasks 4 and 5 as agreed to with the panel during the interim meeting.


Phase II

Task 6. Implement the approved Phase II work plan to gather and assess additional data, and/or revise the outlines of the practical guide and framework. 

Task 7. Plan, execute, and document a method of testing or validating the draft guide and integration framework in a practical setting. 

Task 8. Develop draft deliverables for NCHRP review and comment. The deliverables from this research project include, but are not necessarily limited to the following:

  • A guide for developing and applying a strategic framework for integrating risk management, performance management, and process improvement; 
  • A conduct of research report that documents the entire research effort;
  • A communications packet that can be used to describe the research benefits and methods to a variety of audiences, including agency executives and practitioners; and
  • A technical memorandum, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.

Proposals have been received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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