Over the past 20 years, PENNDOT has made significant investments in a suite of management systems designed to support its business operations, as follows:
These systems are homegrown, mainframe applications that have evolved over time in reaction to the changing needs of PENNDOT staff. The systems provide a wealth of standardized inventory and condition data from the last 15-20 years. However, because of their origins, many of the systems are based on outdated technology and do not meet the expanding needs of the modern user community. Specifically, modern users need improved functions for needs predictions, cost tracking, and the integration of data and results across asset categories. Due largely to the size and complexity of the organization, and the rapid pace of technological advances, PENNDOT's previous information technology (IT) efforts have been uncoordinated and often performed without adequate consideration for other systems or the needs of staff outside traditional user groups.
In the late 1990s, PENNDOT adopted the Malcolm Baldrige excellence criteria as the basis for an intensive evaluation of its business operations. Through this initiative, PENNDOT continues to review and improve five critical business areas:
In support of this effort, PENNDOT conducts a formal business planning process annually. Department and district level business plans identify activities that support PENNDOT's strategic agenda, define performance measures, and set targets. Progress toward these targets is tracked throughout the year with a performance scorecard.
At the same time, PENNDOT was also moving toward a more strategic approach to resource allocation and utilization. The adoption of Asset Management principles reinforced the need for performance measurement, better coordination of decisions horizontally and vertically across the department, timely and accurate data, and an improved suite of decision-support tools.
PENNDOT revisited its legacy systems to support a broad movement toward a more performance-based and customer-oriented approach to doing business.
The adoption of the Baldrige criteria and Transportation Asset Management principles became the catalyst for PENNDOT to revisit its legacy tools, with an eye toward making them more consistent with each other and with improving business practices.
In response to these corporate goals, PENNDOT is working to clearly articulate its business needs, incorporate them into a systematic IT planning process, define an overall architecture for how different systems and databases could work together to address these requirements, and incorporate all of these components into updated versions of their legacy management systems. This overall architecture would provide access to strategic performance and cost data by an executive information system, regardless of where the data reside. As a starting point for the integration effort, PENNDOT's Asset Management Concept Plan proposed the high-level system architecture concept illustrated below.