- Briefing Room
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
CHART (Coordinated Highways Action Response Team) is an incident management system for roadways in Maryland. It is a joint effort of the Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Transportation Authority (toll authority), and the Maryland State Police in cooperation with other federal, state, and local agencies. The system described here is actually the second version of the original CHART system, and is technically called CHART II. The CHART system was successfully deployed and has achieved its goals. Annual evaluations performed by the University of Maryland have documented the considerable benefits of CHART, which far exceed its cost.
The Key Lessons Learned in the Application of Systems Engineering to CHART
The rigorous systems engineering process took time and money, but paid off in the successful operation of the system and the ability to maintain and enhance it.
High Agency involvement in the definition of the system was important to the system development.
Well documented software allowed other system integrators to upgrade the system.
A time-and-materials, task-order agreement with the primary contractor allowed the system to evolve over multiple incremental versions rather than a single deliverable as originally envisioned. This allowed more rapid implementation of the base system, and subsequent feedback from users lead to a better final product.
Despite the thorough software documentation, on-going software maintenance and enhancement upgrades have been found to be very time consuming. Software maintenance activities have therefore been divided into three categories – routine maintenance (e.g., upgrade operating system), minor functional changes and fixes, and major functional enhancements.
Better software cost estimation skills by the agency are desired and the agency is pursuing Project Management Institute (PMI) certification for all major IT project managers.
Using a qualified independent verification consultant was a contractual requirement of the agency and is felt to have been critical to the success CHART has achieved to date.
The contract required that the software contractor have a solid history of using systems engineering and also required that the winning contractor to bring its documented internal systems engineering processes to the project and train the agency in its use.