|Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations|
|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > November 2003 > Going Beyond Theory at the Fifth National Conferences on Asset Management|
|November 2003||Publication Number: FHWA-RD-04-020|
Going Beyond Theory at the Fifth National Conferences on Asset Management
Moving from Theory to Practice” was the theme of the Fifth National Conferences on Asset Management, which were held in Atlanta, Georgia, from September 29–30, 2003, and in Seattle, Washington, from October 21–22, 2003. The conferences each drew more than 130 participants, with attendees representing a broad spectrum of Federal, State, and local governments; universities; industry; and other private organizations.
At both conferences, State and local government speakers discussed their agencies’ implementation of transportation asset management (TAM) and described the challenges they faced, along with the solutions found and the prospects for further success. TAM is a strategic approach to maximizing the benefits from resources used to operate, expand, and preserve the transportation infrastructure. The Atlanta conference featured the experiences of the Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation, along with such localities as Hillsborough County, Florida, and Alcona, Kent, and Oakland counties in Michigan. The Seattle conference, meanwhile, highlighted TAM implementation by the Arizona, Michigan, and Washington State Departments of Transportation, as well as local government experiences in such places as Multnomah County, Oregon; Cole County, Missouri; and the City of Redmond, Washington. Each agency described different elements of, and strategies for, asset management implementation, including the use of analytical tools and management systems, the role of information technology, the establishment of procedures for data collection and integration, and the need for cooperation and collaboration to ensure success. “The presentations demonstrated the importance of using TAM to improve system performance and agency operations,” noted David R. Geiger, Director of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Asset Management.
A highlight of each conference was six interactive workshops that participants could choose from. The first workshop session focused on tools that can be used for TAM, such as life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) and benefit-cost analysis. Panelists from FHWA described the economic concepts that underlie the trade-off analysis used in some of these tools, while representatives from Cambridge Systematics, Inc., gave an update on National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 20-57, “Analytical Tools for Asset Management,” which is developing additional user-friendly TAM tools. Attendees then got to hear the real-life experiences of Oregon, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Oregon has been using its own version of FHWA’s Highway Economic Requirements System (HERS) model since 1997 for Statewide transportation decisionmaking. It has proven to be a valuable transportation planning tool, such as when used to analyze different investment scenarios for an update of the State’s Highway Plan. Across the country, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has been conducting LCCA studies for all Interstate pavement projects with an estimated initial cost of more than $1 million and for all other pavement projects with an estimated cost of more than $10 million. Because of its LCCA policy, PennDOT has achieved, among other successes, improved overall performance of pavements and lower costs for new pavements and rehabilitation work. And in New York, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has developed a prototype TAM Tradeoff Model that uses economic tradeoff analysis to compare the dollar value of customer benefits to investment costs among competing transportation investment candidates. When the model is fully operational, NYSDOT will be able to target agency resources more productively among its pavement, bridge, safety, and mobility goal areas. More information on these State experiences can be found in a series of case studies available from FHWA’s Office of Asset Management. To obtain a copy, contact FHWA at 202-366-0392.
The second workshop session looked at private sector applications of asset management, including use by General Motors and the railroad and energy industries. In workshop session three, meanwhile, FHWA provided a state-of-the-practice summary of asset management data integration among State and local agencies, and practitioners reported on their experiences in integrating different data systems to support the TAM process. For example, at the Atlanta conference, attendees heard how the South Carolina Department of Transportation evaluated a Web-based software for gathering, collating, segmenting, and distributing real-time information from multiple and disparate data sources. They also heard how the Georgia Department of Transportation developed data standards for geographic information system applications and how the Kansas Department of Transportation built an enterprise database architecture. In Seattle, presenters from the Montana, Oregon, and Washington State Departments of Transportation described their work in integrating bridge management data, developing a Web-based information portal, and establishing location referencing system and data standards, respectively.
TAM can also be used as a tool for communicating with decision makers, stakeholders, and employees, as highlighted in the fourth workshop session. For example, the Colorado Department of Transportation has used performance measures and asset management practices to communicate both internally and externally, with performance measures playing a key role in clarifying mission and purpose, aligning resources, generating feedback, focusing on results, and recognizing improvements.
The fifth workshop session looked at local government experiences in implementing TAM. The Atlanta conference featured case studies on the implementation of a comprehensive benefit-cost based TAM system in Hillsborough County, Florida, and the integration of pavement management systems into the decisionmaking processes of three counties of different sizes in Michigan (Alcona, Kent, and Oakland). The Seattle conference, meanwhile, covered lessons learned by the Association of Oregon Counties and Multnomah County regarding the use of TAM in Oregon. For example, the Oregon counties learned that for management systems and other TAM tools to be successful, balance must be maintained between the systems’ desired features and ease of use. Another lesson learned is that users must control the data collection for the systems.
State and local governments looking for guidance on how to take the first steps in starting a TAM program found information on successful tools and techniques at the sixth workshop session. At the Atlanta conference, for example, the Florida Department of Transportation described its Turnpike Enterprise Asset Management System, which is a comprehensive Web-based system used to inventory and manage the maintenance and replacement of $3.6 billion in capital assets.
A closing plenary session at each conference looked at what agencies have learned in implementing the Governmental Accounting Standards Board’s Statement 34 (GASB 34), which calls for State and local transportation agencies to include the costs of infrastructure assets in their financial statements. An NCHRP study shows that the majority of States find using the modified approach to infrastructure reporting, which involves the cost to keep assets at desired condition levels, more helpful in making finance and management decisions than using an approach that merely depreciates the value of the assets.
Plans are already underway for the Sixth National Conference, to be held in 2005. This year’s conference sponsors included the Transportation Research Board (TRB), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Public Works Association, Midwest Regional University Transportation Center (MRUTC), FHWA, National Association of County Engineers, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Department of Transportation, University of Illinois–Chicago, Midwest Transportation Consortium, and the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority.
The conference organizing committee will be issuing a series of short papers summarizing the lessons learned from the conferences, which will be featured in a session at the TRB Annual Meeting in January 2004 in Washington, DC. For more information on the conferences, contact Ernie Wittwer at MRUTC, 608-263-3175 (email: email@example.com) or Thomas Palmerlee at TRB, 202-334-2907 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration