PENNDOT's approach to data integration combines strategic business process improvements with information technology enhancements.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) is responsible for a large and aging transportation network. Over the past 20 years, PENNDOT made significant investments in a suite of systems designed to support the management of this network. However, these homegrown, mainframe systems could not keep up with the evolving needs of PENNDOT's decisionmakers.
In the late 1990s, the department began a concerted effort to improve the way it does business, focusing on improved efficiency, performance-based decisions, customer satisfaction, and the ability to track progress toward stated goals and objectives. These ideas were formalized through the adoption of the Baldrige quality evaluation criteria and Transportation Asset Management principles. PENNDOT's work in these areas triggered the decision to revisit its information technology (IT) resources in order to make them more consistent with each other and with improving business practices.
PENNDOT is simultaneously implementing top-down and bottom-up approaches to data integration. The central component of this process is a series of updates to three of the department's core functions and the management systems that support them. From the top, strategic guidelines drive these business process improvements and ensure that the updated management systems are all compatible with one another. At the same time, PENNDOT is working on the technical mechanisms required to integrate individual data items from the improved systems and disseminate the integrated information throughout the department.
Improved management decisions for a major transportation system such as Pennsylvania's cannot be made without a comprehensive and coordinated understanding of the infrastructure assets. If better Asset Management decisions could improve the efficiency of PENNDOT's capital program by only 1 percent (such as achieving similar benefits using less resources), the department would save over $28 million annually. Although the details of PENNDOT's enterprise data architecture are still under development, the department continues to make significant progress in several other areas required to make improved decisionmaking a reality.