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Transportation Performance Management

Asset Management Data Collection for Supporting Decision Processes - Chapter 1. Literature Review (continued)

Asset Management Implementation Efforts

This section presents a brief review of the state-of-the-practice in the United States and the world regarding Asset Management, individual management systems, and issues revolving around data collection. Although significant advances have been made in the implementation of Asset Management or individual management systems, the literature has very little information about the data needs of the various transportation agencies' decisionmaking processes. This is partly due to this issue's relative newness for most agencies (private or public) and because it affects only agencies that have already taken the initial step of developing Asset Management inventories and databases. Because the concept of Asset Management is relatively new and because there have been many hurdles in its implementation process to begin with, it is not surprising that formal links between decisionmaking processes and data collection have not been identified.

Domestic Experience

Most States have implemented some sort of management system for at least some of their individual assets, and many have reportedly been moving toward the integration of these systems. Asset Management efforts are underway, but as mentioned previously, with many implementation hurdles yet to overcome.

There have been several efforts to capture the U.S. state-of-the-practice and to document the degree of development of Asset Management systems. For example, Flintsch et al. (2004) investigated the number of States that use and collect major pavement management system (PMS) data types (table 4). In this investigation, State DOTs were asked to report whether their PMS was using specifically identified data items, whether these items were collected by the PMS's data collection activities, and what the data collection methods were. Furthermore, in order to get more specific about the U.S. practice, one has to recognize all the stakeholders that influence the development, endorsement, and implementation of Asset Management in the United States. Stalebrink and Gifford (2002) identified the main stakeholders, including three levels of government (Federal, State, and local), various organizations, academia, and consulting firms. In addition, the private sector contribution to Asset Management know-how should also be acknowledged (Nemmers 1997).

Concerning the various levels of U.S. Government, there have been several reports coming from State DOTs and municipal departments that present and analyze their current state-of-the-practice. These reports refer to implementation efforts, general methodologies adopted and implemented, and breakthrough initiatives undertaken, among others. They indicate that many State and municipal transportation agencies have been moving toward an integration of individual management systems and databases to support Asset Management. There have been efforts to integrate GIS in their information systems (Flintsch et al. 2004), to enhance data collection methods and procedures (Larson and Skrypczuk 2004a), and to develop models that link strategic goals and resource allocation to elements of an Asset Management system (Ogard et al. 2004).

Organizations, such as the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), have made significant efforts to enhance the level of knowledge of Asset Management and to support its implementation by the creation of relevant committees and task forces and by linking Asset Management with accounting reporting governmental mandates such as GASB 34 (GASB 1999).

Within academia, various universities and university clusters, (e.g., the Midwest Regional University Transportation Center [MRUTC]), have made significant efforts to promote knowledge exchange and research concerning Asset Management principles and methodologies (MRUTC 2002a, 2002b). Some of these universities have even created courses addressing Asset Management in their graduate degree programs (Stalebrink and Gifford 2002).

Table 4. Number of DOTs that use and collect each major pavement management system (PMS) data type.
Item PMS Uses Data Item? Collected by PMS? Collection Method
Manual Auto Both Total
Road Inventory 44 85% 13 25% 14 5 20 39
Pavement Condition 52 100% 43 83% 9 14 28 51
Traffic Volume 41 79% 2 4% 2 14 21 37
Equivalent Single Axle Loads 31 60% 3 6% 6 11 12 29
Maintenance and Rehabilitation History 44 85% 26 50% 34 1 8 43

Finally, private sector firms have participated in several peer-exchanging conferences and symposia to bridge the gap between themselves and the public sector regarding Asset Management implementation efforts and challenges (AASHTO 1999). The American Public Works Association has also dedicated resources to developing guides and promoting research in this subject area (Danylo and Lemer 1998; Stalebrink and Gifford 2002).


Canada has been moving in the same direction as the United States. Canadian transportation agencies, universities, and public and private organizations have been promoting Asset Management and funding-associated research since the late 1990s (Vanier 2000). These efforts, complemented by the extensive Canadian experience in individual management systems (Haas et al. 2001), have resulted in a thorough development of the Asset Management state-of-the-art and has led to the publication of a variety of research reports (Cowe Falls et al. 2001; Haas et al. 2004).

Besides the various official publications on Asset Management issued by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC 1999), Asset Management has been of interest to Canadian municipalities in charge of municipal infrastructure assets. Therefore, significant effort has been made in providing guidelines and creating a framework for the implementation of Asset Management in this area (NGSMI 2003). Reports produced in the past few years suggest that Canadian authorities and other stakeholders are very much interested in the concepts and methodologies of Asset Management and look forward to its gradual implementation.

However, significant implementation of Asset Management in Canada has yet to be seen because there are various hurdles to overcome and little related experience. Canadian provinces have possessed individual management systems (pavement, bridge, and maintenance) for a long time. In recent years, there have been efforts to draw on the experience of utilizing these systems for the promotion of Asset Management implementation. The focus mainly has been on the integration of such individual management systems under the umbrella of Asset Management (Cowe Falls et al. 2001).

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand have been among the pioneers of Asset Management. The first related efforts and reports date back to the late 1980s, and since then there has been much research in this subject (Sheldon 2004). Australian transportation agencies conducted early studies toward the state-of-the-art of Asset Management (Burns et al. 1999) and in 1990 were the first in the world to capitalize and record their road and bridge infrastructure in their annual reports (Sheldon 2004). One of the first comprehensive guides to Asset Management, "Total Asset Management," was issued in 1996. The Australian Procurement and Construction Council recently published a revised version, "Asset Management 2001" (APCC 2001).

Australian transportation organizations and authorities have repeatedly reported their progress toward Asset Management implementation and have produced significant results in all related fields, including data collection and related methods and equipment (Pratt and Ferguson 2004; Sheldon 2004), decisionmaking systems and their implementation and evaluation (Robertson 2004), and refinements of their state-of-the-art through new methodologies (Paine 2004), policy updates (APCC 2001), and implementation recommendations for efforts concerning partnerships with the private sector (Jordan 2004).

Similar efforts have taken place in New Zealand. Significant progress has been made in the implementation of Asset Management concepts by the public transportation authorities (Robinson 2000) as well as by the private sector (Pidwerbesky and Hunt 2004).

Finally, both Australian and New Zealand transportation authorities have been moving lately toward the issuing of performance-oriented maintenance contracts for their road networks, creating another milestone in their implementation of Asset Management concepts and methodologies (Robinson 2000; World Highways 2004).

Photo. Image of a multi-lane bridge crossing a river.


European transportation agencies present a very diverse picture in terms of their endorsement of Asset Management methodologies and principles and their consequent implementation efforts. Many European countries are still in the phase of developing or investigating the potential advantages of individual management systems, and implementation in this respect is still very premature. Other countries, however, are much more advanced and have been considering integrating their existing management systems within an overall Asset Management framework.

The United Kingdom has been among the pioneers in Europe, reporting on related efforts starting in the 1980s. The British Highways Agency has reportedly been using individual management systems for pavements and maintenance and is currently moving forward in introducing new, more effective data management schemes to accommodate its new business functions (Hawker 2003; Hawker et al. 2003a, 2003b; Hawker and Spong 2004; Spong and Pickett 2003; WERD 2003).

In the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark) the use of individual management systems has been abundant for many years. These countries are now beginning to investigate the merits resulting from the integration of these systems under an Asset Management framework, and research projects are being conducted in most of them (Kristiansen 2003; Männistö 2003; Männistö and Inkala 2003; Potucek and Lang 2004; Sund 2003; Sund et al. 2004; WERD 2003). In these countries, there is also ongoing research in the area of data collection and its related topics (Offrell and Sjögren 2003; Ruotoistenmäki et al. 2003; WERD 2003).

Germany has also been promoting the use of individual management systems for its road network (Krause and Maerschalk 2003; Woltereck 2003). Significant work has taken place in the area of data collection and integration (Bock and Heller 2003; WERD 2003) as well as in the creation of a common road data catalog for all German road administrations (WERD 2003; Socina 2004).

Similar efforts in the development and initial implementation of individual management systems coupled with research and development in the area of data collection and management can be found in many other European countries, such as Austria (Petschacher 2003; Weninger-Vycudil et al. 2003), Croatia (Keller et al. 2003; Srsen 2003), the Czech Republic (WERD 2003; Fencl 2004), France (WERD 2003), Italy (Crispino et al. 2003), Portugal (Picado-Santos et al. 2003a, 2003b), Slovakia (WERD 2003), Spain (Gascón Varón and Vázquez de Diego 2003), Switzerland (Scazziga 2003), and Ukraine (Vincent et al. 2003). Furthermore, in many of these countries, there is already a trend toward Asset Management with various efforts focusing on integration of databases and management systems.

Finally, in some other European countries, such as Greece, the adaptability of individual management systems in local conditions is still under investigation, and implementation efforts in this area are still in the initial stages (Roberts and Loizos 2004; Loizos and Papanikolaou 2005).

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Updated: 04/27/2015
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