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How Decision Makers Value Information

Accurate, timely, and relevant information saves transportation agencies both time and money through increased efficiency, improved productivity, and rapid deployment of innovations. For example, access to research results allows agencies to benefit from the experiences of others and avoids costly duplication of effort. While the benefits are substantial, they are difficult to quantify and the value of information goes unrecognized. An extensive literature review and interviews with State DOTs, private companies, and transportation libraries reveal that access to information yields both time and cost savings by improving decision making, expediting solutions, and avoiding unnecessary research. The benefits of information and information services are summarized below. For a more detailed discussion of the literature review and interviews conducted for this report, see Appendices A and B.

Good Information Reduces Costs

Reducing costs is a primary concern for transportation agencies. A number of studies and experts consulted for this report cited the following cost savings resulting from access to information:

Information Saves Time

Quality information saves time in numerous ways--by avoiding duplicative efforts, stopping unproductive activities, modifying design approaches, or correcting bad information:

Table 1. Benefit-Cost Ratios for Information Services
Georgia Technical Institute 16 to 1
Exxon [See Koenig, 1992.] 11 to 1
Minnesota DOT 9-10 to 1
NASA [ Ibid.] 7.6 to 1
Paccar, Inc. 3 to 1

Information Improves Decision Making

Within the highly decentralized transportation community, knowing what other organizations have done or how they have confronted similar challenges is invaluable when making technical or policy decisions:

Table 3. Information and Quality of Work (Scale of 1 to 7)

Journals Books Internal Reports
With Information 5.82 5.68 5.78
Without Information 4.04 3.57 3.52

Information Yields Customer Satisfaction

Although many organizations cannot quantify the value of information or information services, the perceived value among users is high. Users discuss value in terms of whether, and to what extent, the information provided meets their expectations and needs. For example:

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Electronic version of Publication No. FHWA-SA-99-038
This page last updated August 18, 1999

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