Transportation Asset Management Case Studies
The Michigan Experience
Setting the Stage
What Did MDOT Have?
In the early 1990s MDOT was a highly centralized agency with more than 4,200 employees. The completion of the 40-year-old Interstate Highway System meant it was time to begin reconstruction and modernization of those roadway segments. At that time, MDOT faced several challenges. Its organizational culture was shaped by the need to complete the construction of the interstate system rather than to preserve the system, resulting in high operating costs. In addition the department did not have enough contact with its customers, and its information system was not up to the task of supporting its changed mission.
The new mission of reconstruction and modernization called on MDOT to meet new management challenges:
- Manage existing assets
- Identify and control overhead costs
- Flatten the organization's decision-making hierarchy
- Become more agile and interdisciplinary
- Respond better to the needs of its customers
These goals required a new staffing mix for MDOT to manage its resources and operate its transportation systems more effectively.
When the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 was passed, MDOT saw the opportunities to re-engineer its business processes and use new computer technologies to facilitate organizational change.
The keys to reinventing the department were moving from a centralized to a decentralized organization and developing new relationships between strategic planning, program development, project design, and project delivery. When ISTEA was passed, MDOT saw the opportunities to re-engineer its business processes and use new computer technologies to facilitate organizational change. At the same time, MDOT was deciding whether to replace an aging mainframe system or migrate to the maturing personal computing options that were entering the market.
What Did MDOT Want?
MDOT began to reinvent itself by facilitating a business process re-engineering activity with its top executives and managers. Through this activity, the department recognized that data integration concepts would provide the vehicle for changing its focus and culture. A key element of the business process re-engineering effort focused on empowering MDOT's employees to make decisions in a more streamlined manner that related directly to its external customers. With this in mind, the department embraced client-server technology and relational databases as the future for its computer operations.
MDOT also envisioned an Asset Management approach to managing the transportation system, a comprehensive, long-term view that depends upon quality data on the initial condition and service levels of the system and the performance of the investments made to address system needs.
This approach required a powerful decision-support tool that would provide immediate access to data needed to support resource allocation decisions. Such a tool would help them identify asset conditions, analyze system usage patterns, and determine deficiencies in transportation infrastructure and services across modes. This tool would enable MDOT to quickly change direction if infrastructure performance resulting from investments such as pavement and bridge improvements was not meeting expectations.