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Overview of HPMS for FHWA Field Offices – April 2003

What is HPMS and what is it used for?

The Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) provides data that reflects the extent, condition, performance, use, and operating characteristics of the Nation's highways. It was developed in 1978 as a national highway transportation system database. It includes limited data on all public roads, more detailed data for a sample of the arterial and collector functional systems, and certain statewide summary information. HPMS replaced numerous uncoordinated annual State data reports as well as biennial special studies conducted by each State. These special studies had been conducted to support a 1965 congressional requirement that a report on the condition of the Nation's highway needs be submitted to Congress every two years.

The HPMS data form the basis of the analyses that support the biennial Condition and Performance Reports to Congress. These reports provide a comprehensive, factual background to support development and evaluation of the Administration's legislative, program, and budget options. They provide the rationale for requested Federal-aid Highway Program funding levels, and are used for apportioning Federal-aid funds back to the States under TEA-21; both of these activities ultimately affect every State that contributes data to the HPMS.

These data are also used for assessing highway system performance under FHWA's strategic planning process. Pavement condition data, congestion-related data, and traffic data used to determine fatality and injury rates are used extensively by the Administration to measure FHWA's and the State's progress in meeting the objectives embodied in the Vital Few, FHWA's Performance Plan, and other strategic goals.

In addition, the HPMS serves needs of the States, MPOs and local government and other customers in assessing highway condition, performance, air quality trends, and future investment requirements. Many States rely on traffic and travel data from the HPMS to conduct air quality analyses and make assessments related to determining air quality conformity, and are now using the same analysis models used by FHWA to assess their own highway investment needs, HERS-ST. As a result of these uses, States have an additional stake in assuring the completeness and quality of these data.

Finally, these data are the source of a large portion of information included in FHWA's annual Highway Statistics and other media and publications. They are widely used in both the national and international arenas by other governments, transportation professionals, and industry professionals to make decisions that impact national and local transportation systems and our transportation dependent economy.

Authority

The requirements outlined in the HPMS Field Manual are authorized under 23 U.S.C. 315, which places the responsibility on the Secretary of Transportation for management decisions which affect transportation. In addition, 23 CFR 1.5 provides the Federal Highway Administrator with authority to request such information deemed necessary to administer the Federal-aid highway program. A biennial estimate of the future highway investment needs of the Nation is mandated by Congress (23 U.S.C 502(g)). HPMS data are used for assessing highway system performance under FHWA's strategic planning and performance reporting process in accordance with requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA, Sections 3 and 4) and for apportioning Federal-aid highway funds under TEA-21, (23 U.S.C. 104). Finally, 23 CFR 420.105(b) requires States to provide data that support FHWA's responsibilities to the Congress and the public.

State's Responsibilities and Timing

The State department of transportation is responsible for the collection of data and reporting of these data to the FHWA headquarters through FHWA developed and maintained PC-based submittal software. While the FHWA receives, screens, organizes, and uses these data, these are still the State's data and the State is ultimately responsible for the quality of the data. The State department of transportation is encouraged to cooperate with local governments and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in the collection, assembling and reporting of the necessary information; a "collect it once, use it often" approach is worthy of consideration in view of the resource constraints facing data programs at all governmental levels.

By June 1 of each year, the State must provide an annual Certification of Public Road Miles (23 CFR 460) signed by the current Governor or his/her designee. These data are used by the NHTSA to apportion highway safety funds to the States. The Certified State Public Road Mileage is used as a basis for apportionment of a fraction of the funds under 23 U.S.C. 402(c) (safety).

By June 15th of each year (resource #1), the State must report the HPMS data for the previous year to FHWA headquarters using the HPMS submittal software.

FHWA (Division Office)Responsibilities in HPMS

The FHWA Division Office also shares in the overall responsibility of providing HPMS data. The Division Office does this by:

  1. Providing quality assurance of the HPMS data
  2. Acting as a liaison between the FHWA headquarters HPMS team and State DOTs in coordinating on reporting improvements
  3. Supporting and promoting the numerous beneficial uses of HPMS data
  4. Providing technical assistance to the States
  5. Performing annual reviews

When the State submits HPMS data to FHWA, the division should assess the timeliness, completeness, and quality of the data. This is particularly true of those data items that pose the highest risk to the FHWA and the State; an example is the quality of the Interstate System lane-miles and traffic data that are used to apportion Interstate Maintenance funds to the States. The submittal software (resource #2) provides tools that can be used by the division to view and analyze the data.

There are two useful tools for looking at HPMS data trends. One is the TranStats HPMS Map Viewer (resource #5), which allows viewing mapped HPMS data for the past several years; this is useful when comparing the reasonableness of section specific data in an HPMS submittal to what has been previously reported or when looking at changes over time to data trends on specific roadway sections. For instance, the tool permits looking at how pavement IRI has changed on a specific Interstate or NHS route in the State over time. Another tool is the five-year trends tables (reference #9), which allows comparison of key variables for the State for the past 5 years. For instance, this tool allows assessing what the trend in rural Interstate travel is over time in your State compared to other States and the nation as a whole.

The division should also be concerned with the adequacy of the State's sample management activities. At a minimum, a State should be assessing sample adequacy and maintaining a valid number of samples in each volume group. Since the HPMS relies on the use of sampled data at the functional system level expanded through mileage related factors to represent the entire functional system, valid estimates of critical variables such as system level travel depend on the maintenance of a viable sample. The CBT (resource #4) has extensive interactive training sessions on sampling, and sample management. A CD containing the CBT program has been provided to each division and State; additional copies are available from Headquarters. The division could chose to assess the technical adequacy of the State's sample management program for the HPMS, including its weaknesses and plans for improvement, as part of a program review activity.

The Headquarters data review comments on the State's submittal should be reviewed and discussed with the State to assure that they are understood, that any corrections requested for the current year are provided, and that changes for the future will be made. A response to these comments can be prepared by the division or by the State and included in either the next year's data submittal or the next division annual HPMS review report. Timely discussion of, and appropriate response to, the review comments is important so that the State will have ample time to make necessary corrections and/or investigate questionable data prior to the next data submittal.

Additionally, FHWA is involved in the annual SPR planning program review and approval process. It is through this process that the division can negotiate with the State over the inclusion and funding of improvements to the State's data processes that will assure that inadequate, or at risk, HPMS related data programs are changed or repaired. This SPR program reflects the State's commitment of resources for data collection; execution of the work program should be monitored to assure that adequate staff is available and adequate budget resources and work effort are applied.

FHWA's Annual Review of the HPMS Data

By November 1st of each year (resource #3), the FHWA Division Office must provide the results of an annual review of the State's HPMS program to FHWA headquarters including a certification that the State's public road mileage data, highway miles traveled (VMT), and lane miles data are valid and suitable for use in apportionment of Federal-aid highway funds.

The annual review of the State's HPMS data submittal conducted by each Division includes four components:

  1. Program reviews of high risk subject areas
  2. Field inventory reviews
  3. Annual required reviews
  4. Annual reporting

High Risk Subject Areas

Data item problems are usually identified as being of high risk because they have a potential to significantly impact upon the apportionment of Federal-aid highway funds, or the biennial Condition and Performance Report to Congress, or FHWA's ability to provide required performance information. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Traffic data reporting
  • Future AADT estimates
  • Public road mileage reporting
  • HPMS sample adequacy and sample bias
  • Travel data (VMT)
  • Highway capacity related data
  • Off-State system HPMS data
  • Pavement data

High priority (risk) areas identified in the Appendix to the Field Review Guidelines should be regularly surveyed on no more than a 3-year interval to determine if in-depth program or process examinations are needed. Issues that are specifically identified in the headquarters review comments, should be considered for immediate action. The application of continuous process improvement review and analysis techniques and follow up through the SPR review and approval process are essential elements to assuring the comprehensive management of the division's HPMS responsibilities.

In completing program reviews, the Division should consider the application of continuous process improvement review and analysis techniques (resources #6 and #12) to assess the adequacy of underlying State data programs, such as the State's traffic count or pavement roughness data programs, that are the source of HPMS data.

Field Inventory Reviews

Each division should establish a schedule to review HPMS inventory data on a basis that is consistent with good data quality management practice. Although the divisions are responsible for determining how often to conduct overall field inventory reviews of the State's HPMS data, a 3-year cycle is recommended. The objective of these reviews should be to ensure that data being entered by the States into HPMS match field conditions.

The data items reported into HPMS, which should be reviewed periodically on a sample basis by the divisions, include at least the following: type of facility, number of through lanes, number of peak lanes, type of signalization and percent green time, type and number of at-grade intersections, median type, shoulder type, access control, surface and pavement type, speed limit, turning lanes (urban only), peak parking (urban only), and high occupancy vehicle operations and surveillance data. The divisions should also verify by observation if the median width, shoulder width, lane width, and curve and grade data reported for the HPMS sections reviewed are reasonable.

Annual Required Reviews

Data Trends Examination

The divisions must annually certify that the State's public road mileage data, highway vehicle-miles traveled (VMT), and lane miles data are valid and suitable for use in the apportionment of Federal-aid highway funds. Each year, the divisions should examine the data trends for reported AADT, public road mileage, travel both on and off the State system, and number of lane miles for reasonableness before making the certification. Prior year trend information can be found on the FHWA Office of Highway Policy Intranet staff site at: http://intra.fhwa.dot.gov/ohpi/index.htm

Mileage Certification Review

The total extent of public road miles, used for apportionment of section 402(c) safety funds (23 CFR 460), certified as of December 31 of the data year must be the same as those reported in that calendar year's HPMS data. States have the primary responsibility for certifying State and local government estimates of owned roads in their respective States. In addition, the annually certified public road miles and the HPMS data base reported miles should conform to lengths reported by Federal agencies having public roads in each respective State. Entities owning public road miles that must be included in the certified total include State transportation agencies, other State agencies, county and town governments, Indian Nations, toll commissions, airports, Federal agencies and public/private partnership roads.

Annual Reporting

Divisions are responsible for demonstrating in an annual review memo to headquarters that their respective States have a satisfactory HPMS data program in place. This annual review memo is due by November 1 of each calendar year.

The review memo should cover the results of the data trends and mileage certification reviews, as well as the results of any process reviews conducted during the year. The review memo should also document any FHWA actions taken or recommendations made as a result of the review and steps the State is taking to make improvements in deficient areas or processes. High priority data areas needing improvement should be specifically noted in the review memo along with the actions taken to remedy previously identified problems. Follow up reporting by the division of issues, recommendations and results on a year-to-year basis are essential to staying on the path to quality improvement over time. And, in an era of rapidly changing staff responsibilities, it is important to maintain an adequate record of progress. Significant changes by the State in the oversight and management of programs and processes providing HPMS data should be a consideration in determining if further reviews are needed.

Additional Considerations

Whenever a review is performed, the division should address adequacy of funding for the HPMS program for both the States and MPOs. The division also should examine the adequacy of personnel,equipment, and training needed by State and local entities to conduct the HPMS program in a quality manner.

Issues identified by the divisions should have a schedule for addressing problems identified in any data or process reviews. Resolution of high priority data issues should be a factor in determining priorities for funding of activities in State Planning and Research (SPR) and Unified Planning Work Programs (UPWP).

When a State contracts for data provision with a private vendor, MPO or local government, or toll facility, the State should have a reasonable means of validation to ensure that properly collected, current data are being reported. The division should review the State's process for assuring accuracy of these data.

The HPMS submittal software and the TranStats HPMS map viewer are excellent tools to use in examining the quality of data submitted by the States. The divisions are encouraged to learn how to use these tools for reviewing the quality of their States HPMS data and for conducting in-depth program and process reviews of critical HPMS data areas. The divisions should make full use of the HPMS Field Manual as a resource when developing and coordinating data and process reviews.

Important HPMS Resources

  1. Highway Performance Monitoring System Field Manual; FHWA; December 2000
  2. HPMS Submittal Software Version 5.5 and User's Guide; FHWA; February, 2003
  3. Computer-Based Training CD; FHWA; 2002
  4. TranStats HPMS Map Viewer
  5. Continuous Process Improvement – Tools and Techniques for Practitioners; FHWA; July 2001
  6. HPMS Resources and Publications
  7. HPMS Community of Practice
  8. HPMS Catalog of New Technology and Techniques; FHWA; June 2000
  9. HPMS Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
  10. A Continuous Process Improvement Model for HPMS; FHWA; March 2003
  11. Highway Functional Classification, Concepts, Criteria and Procedures; FHWA; March 1989