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Minnesota Department of Transportation


Mn/DOT's Office of Investment Management is responsible for both planning investments and managing performance measures. The Office develops plans and performance reports that reflect a performance-based approach to planning and investment management. This includes the Statewide Multi-Modal Transportation Plan, the 20-year Statewide Highway Investment Plan, and the Annual Transportation Performance Report. Other Specialty Offices at Mn/DOT produce additional performance-based plans and reports such as the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, the annual Metropolitan Freeway System Congestion Report, the Mn/DOT Pavement Management Report, and the Minnesota Statewide Bridge Inspection Report.


Mn/DOT has been developing performance management tools since the early 1990s. The performance-based planning system designed by the Office of Investment Management establishes explicit policy priorities, tracks and reports performance trend data, and develops performance forecasts that guide long range capital investment plans and the annual update of the 4-year STIP. Mn/DOT's approach encourages innovation by setting clear goals and outcome-based performance targets and allowing districts and managers to allocate resources to meet those targets. The approach encourages accountability and transparency both internally, among districts and divisions, and externally with the Minnesota legislature and the public. It also helps Mn/DOT executives communicate the revenue required to meet transportation system performance targets so that the Legislature can make informed funding decisions.

Long Range Planning

In 2003, Mn/DOT adopted its first performance-based statewide plan. The plan suggested the development of performance measures to track progress towards Mn/DOT's policy goals and guide investments. After completion of the 2003 Statewide Transportation Plan, Mn/DOT integrated performance based resource allocation into its highway planning, programming, and project development process.

The Minnesota Statewide Transportation Policy Plan published in 2009, reflects the evolution of Mn/DOT's performance-based approach. Along with Mn/DOT's Strategic Plan, the Minnesota Statewide Transportation Policy Plan establishes the planning and performance measurement framework for Mn/DOT. The statewide plan suggests performance measures for all modes and jurisdictions to measure the progress and effectiveness of policies and strategies.

The performance measures in the plan are organized into 10 policy areas. In each policy area performance measures and indicators are identified and associated with policies and strategies. Each objective is tied to multiple performance measures. Measures are used to track system performance over time for a broad set of system characteristics such as condition of infrastructure, travel safety, and traffic congestion (see Table 16).

Table 16. Mn/DOT Performance Measure Policy Areas

Policy Exemplary Measure/Target
Reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries for all travel modes. Reduce annual vehicle-related fatalities on all State and local roads to fewer than 400 by 2010.
Ensure the structural integrity of the transportation systems serving people and freight. Maintain the conditions of principal arterial bridges so that more than 55% are in good condition, less than 16 % are in fair or poor condition, and less than 2% are in poor condition based on the National Bridge Inventory Structural Condition Index.
Maintain and operate the Statewide transportation system in an efficient, cost-effective, and secure manner. Overall customer ratings with maintenance of State highways will be maintained at 7.0 or higher on a 10-point scale.
Maintain and strengthen Minnesota's strategic multimodal connections to the Upper Midwest, the nation, and the world. Annual number of scheduled commercial airline passengers departing from Minnesota airports.
Enhance the movement of people and freight between regional trade centers within Minnesota by providing efficient, multimodal transportation connections. 100% of Greater Minnesota Interregional Corridor miles should perform within 2 MPH of target speeds.
Provide mobility and address congestion in the Twin Cities by optimizing use of the existing system and making strategic capacity investments in both highways and transit. Double 2003 transit ridership to 150 million rides by the year 2030.
Provide for the changing transportation needs of people and freight traveling within Greater Minnesota regions and metropolitan areas by planning regionally for critical investments and improving coordination across modes and jurisdictions. 80 Greater Minnesota counties with county-wide transit service.
Support local efforts to increase jobs, expand housing, and improve community livability through more coordinated planning, complementary design, and timely communication among land use and transportation authorities. All publicly funded airports are required to adopt Airport Safety Zoning.
Increase the energy efficiency and environmental sustainability of Minnesota's transportation system. Reduce the use of gasoline by on-road vehicles owned by State agencies by 25% by 2010 and by 50% by 2015.
Strengthen accountability and transparency in the delivery of Minnesota's transportation system. 90% of projects scheduled are let in the planned year.

Mn/DOT uses both performance measures and performance indicators. Performance measures are metrics of performance that Mn/DOT has significant influence over and actively manages. Annual trends for many of the performance measures are tracked against targets and depicted graphically in an appendix to the Statewide Plan. Performance indicators help describe the performance of the transportation system but are strongly influenced by exogenous factors. In some cases the measures and indicators identified in the plan are listed as developmental, indicating that the source or methodology for data collection has not been fully developed.


The Statewide Highway Investment Plan updated in 2009 was developed concurrently with the Statewide Multi-Modal Policy Plan. The 20-Year Highway Investment Plan for 2009-2028 provides the link between the policies and strategies established in the Statewide Policy Plan and the capital improvements that are made to the state highway system. The Investment Plan: establishes strategies and costs to meet performance targets; projects future revenues; sets investment priorities to projected funding; sets forth a plan of investments based on those priorities; and identifies investment priorities for additional funding.

The Investment Plan describes investments over three planning periods:

Investment plans are developed by Mn/DOT's Districts based on general guidance and statewide performance targets. By synthesizing needs assessments, revenue projections, stakeholder input and legislative direction, Mn/DOT sets statewide investment goals for four strategic priorities: traveler safety, infrastructure preservation, mobility, and regional and community improvements. System performance targets are developed using historical data, customer research, engineering analysis, economic analysis, fiscal trends, and institutional values. Mn/DOT sets targets at a level that meets customer needs, assures safety and achieves cost-effective use of public resources.

Mn/DOT's districts are responsible for managing resources to meet performance targets aligned with State priorities for a range of transportation service and assets. The formula for allocating funding among Districts reflects each District's share of performance-based needs related to safety, system preservation, and mobility.


The long range plan is linked to programming through the STIP and the HIP, which are updated on an annual basis to reflect revenues and costs. Every 4 years, as part of the Highway Investment Plan (HIP) update, each Mn/DOT district prepares an unconstrained scenario that assesses resource needs to meet performance targets and identifies investment priorities in a fiscally constrained plan. These scenarios are informed by Mn/DOT's asset management program which allows MNDOT to make better investment decisions based on infrastructure conditions and performance forecasting models. Department and District executives meet annually to review actual and predicted results of their investments against statewide performance targets. The process creates an impartial basis for identifying and evaluating critical transportation improvements allowing policy makers to focus on system performance rather than local political prerogatives. Furthermore, the resource gaps between the unconstrained performance-based plans and their respective fiscally-constrained plans are communicated to the State legislature to inform legislative funding deliberations and public dialogue.


Minnesota State Statute on budget preparation requires the presentation of performance data in concurrence with budge proposals. The statute states:

"Agencies shall present performance data that measures the performance of programs in meeting program goals and objectives. Measures reported may include indicators of outputs, efficiency, outcomes, and other measures relevant to understanding each program. Agencies shall present as much historical information as needed to understand major trends and shall set targets for future performance issues where feasible and appropriate. The information shall appropriately highlight agency performance issues that would assist legislative review and decision making."

Results for both Mn/DOT's long-term investment measures and its short-term operational measures are reported regularly to department, division and district management teams to evaluate progress, guide budgets, and stimulate problem solving. Mn/DOT's Transportation Performance Report, published May 2009, details annual transportation system performance from 2003 to 2008 and describes progress in achieving policy goals. The results are consolidated in one-page Transportation Results Scorecard that shows the degree to which Mn/DOT is meeting its performance targets set for traveler safety, infrastructure preservation, maintenance, statewide connections, Twin City mobility, regional mobility, and project delivery. The scorecard displays the measure, actual performance relative to targeted performance, trend analysis, and an explanation of the measure.


Mn/DOT's approach to performance-based planning has been refined over time. The progress made over the past decade is noted in the differences between the 2003 Statewide Transportation Plan and the 2009 Statewide Transportation Policy Plan. A performance-based approach stated in theoretical and aspirational terms in a couple of pages in 2003 has gradually become a reality by 2009, so that the 2009 plan contains an 88-page appendix devoted to charting performance across all aspects of the transportation system.

A performance-based approach to planning has led to significant benefits. Mn/DOT's performance-based reporting has allowed Mn/DOT to target investments to improvements that directly affect system performance and achieve policy goals. A strong asset management program has enabled Districts to develop annual scenario-based investment plans. Project planning can be largely dominated by local interest groups but Mn/DOT's performance-based approach has created an impartial basis for comparing the investment strategies of Districts while encouraging accountability and innovation. Greater transparency has fostered greater trust and a better partnership with the State Legislature, as Mn/DOT has been better able to connect funding needs with performance outcomes.

Despite significant improvements, the performance-based culture at Mn/DOT is still evolving. Mn/DOT has not developed formal measures to gauge the success of the planning process itself, though Mn/DOT did track public participation in hearings and open house meetings. The 2009 Statewide Plan sets a goal for greater transparency and accountability. One measure of this goal described in the Statewide Plan is "Customer Satisfaction with Reliability of Mn/DOT Communications."

Mn/DOT has found that issues such as economic development in rural areas are not easily addressed through performance based planning. Mn/DOT has found it difficult to balance goals with well-established measurement methodologies such as pavement conditions against goals with less rigorous measures such as economic competitiveness or livability. While the public, particularly in rural areas, is demanding capacity expansion as a vehicle to promote local economic growth, Mn/DOT planners have found that the scarce resources available may only allow system preservation and safety enhancements. This has caused Mn/DOT to reflect on the level of service currently provided and research ways to better measure livability and economic development.

Mn/DOT planners believe that any Federal approach to performance-based planning should start with setting clear goals not just measures. They believe that Federal transportation goals need to more accurately reflect the concerns of the American public. Federal government endorsement of performance based planning would also enhance accountability and transparency in decision making.

Observations And Insights

Updated: 9/15/2011
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