Todd Kohr, Director of Highways Policy for the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, provided an update on the proposed Surface Transportation Authorization legislation. The current draft legislation calls for a $450 billion program over six years - dramatically more than current funding [U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, The Surface Transportation Act of 2009: A Blueprint for Investment and Reform Executive Summary, Presented by Chairman James L. Oberstar, Ranking Member John L. Mica, Chairman Peter A. DeFazio, and Ranking Member John J. Duncan, Jr., June 18, 2009]. To build the case for this level of investment, the T&I Committee has proposed a shift towards to a Federal transportation program that links investment to performance. Centered on the themes of performance and accountability, it is anticipated that the final legislation will specify performance measures and targets and hold funding recipients accountable for investment decisions and the impact that those decisions have on achieving national goals/objectives.
Recognizing that performance management is not a one-size-fits-all approach, the T&I Committee's proposed legislation calls for a partnership between Federal, state, and local governments, and a mixture of Federal and state agency-specific targets. Also, the proposed legislation reflects an understanding that the state of practice in preservation and safety is more advanced than in other goals areas. For example, in the area of preservation, Congress would specify performance measures and set minimum performance thresholds. State DOTs would then work with the FHWA to develop 1) agency-specific targets that are at least as high as the national standards, and 2) an investment strategy for achieving the targets. Accountability would be based on the implementation of the established investment strategy. The legislation would provide flexibility for allocating resources in a manner required to achieve the established targets, and for adjusting the targets in the case of inadequate funding availability or emergencies. In other areas, such as freight, national measures and targets would not yet be established.
The proposed legislation can be found on the T&I Committee's web site,http://transporation.house.gov. The Committee is aware that its proposal is a starting point and invites feedback from the transportation community. One of the outstanding issues relates to the timeframe for implementation. For example, the current draft calls for each state to establish preservation targets within 6 months after the legislation is enacted. Relying on expertise from others, the draft released in June 2009 will continue to be revised and modified in the coming months.
Jim March from the FHWA Office of Policy and Governmental Affairs presented an overview of FHWA's ongoing performance management activities. These activities include:
Tony Kane, AASHTO Director of Engineering and Technical Services, provided an update on AASHTO's Standing Committee on Performance Management (SCOPM), summarized the proceedings of the recent CEO Leadership Forum on performance management, and presented the findings of the international scan on the linkage between transportation performance and accountability.
The SCOPM is divided into eight task forces, one for each of AASHTO's six goal areas (safety, preservation, congestion, systems operations, environment, and freight/economics) as well as for planning and programming and comparative measures. Kane presented a status report on each task force.
In April 2009, AASHTO, FHWA, and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) sponsored a CEO Leadership Forum on Performance Management at the University on Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. The purpose of the event was to exchange best practices and experiences in performance management, identify strategic challenges, and develop research and action plans. Based on the Forum discussion and results of a survey conducted prior to the Forum (Table 2.1), there was consensus among Forum participants that states are ready to implement performance measures for pavements, bridges, and safety, but less ready in other areas. A report summarizing the Forum proceedings, including presentations and resulting action plans, will be published shortly.
|Goal Area||Measures Only||Measures and Targets||Neither|
Source: Cambridge Systematics, Inc.
In the summer of 2009, a panel of United States transportation professionals traveled to Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand to learn how these countries have incorporated performance management into their surface transportation programs.
The scan team found asset management to be an integral part of transportation programs in each country visited. Asset management is considered a viable model for managing pavement, bridges, safety features, and traffic hardware, as well as for operating highways (e.g., maintaining average journey to work time or reliability of the system). The scan team identified several examples of asset management tools and techniques that can potentially inform practices in the United States. These include more inclusive costs and benefits in benefit/cost analysis and “value for money” analysis; greater reliance on economic/financial accounting techniques by transportation agencies during discussions with treasury departments; and the use of risk analyses to make investment tradeoffs between and within asset classes.
Overall, the scan team found that performance management is an accepted, but evolving approach to the business of transportation. In each country accountability through performance measures have been built into the transportation program. In every case, performance management followed a learning curve that resulted over time in fewer measures and in more emphasis being given to performance trends rather then specific targets. A full report of the scan findings will be published shortly.
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