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Asset Management


Asset Management and Management of Highway Performance (Peer Exchange)

2.0 Status of Current Activities

2.1 House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Todd Kohr, Director of Highways Policy for the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, provided an update on the proposed Surface Transportation Authorization legislation. The current draft legislation calls for a $450 billion program over six years - dramatically more than current funding [U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, The Surface Transportation Act of 2009: A Blueprint for Investment and Reform Executive Summary, Presented by Chairman James L. Oberstar, Ranking Member John L. Mica, Chairman Peter A. DeFazio, and Ranking Member John J. Duncan, Jr., June 18, 2009]. To build the case for this level of investment, the T&I Committee has proposed a shift towards to a Federal transportation program that links investment to performance. Centered on the themes of performance and accountability, it is anticipated that the final legislation will specify performance measures and targets and hold funding recipients accountable for investment decisions and the impact that those decisions have on achieving national goals/objectives.

Recognizing that performance management is not a one-size-fits-all approach, the T&I Committee's proposed legislation calls for a partnership between Federal, state, and local governments, and a mixture of Federal and state agency-specific targets. Also, the proposed legislation reflects an understanding that the state of practice in preservation and safety is more advanced than in other goals areas. For example, in the area of preservation, Congress would specify performance measures and set minimum performance thresholds. State DOTs would then work with the FHWA to develop 1) agency-specific targets that are at least as high as the national standards, and 2) an investment strategy for achieving the targets. Accountability would be based on the implementation of the established investment strategy. The legislation would provide flexibility for allocating resources in a manner required to achieve the established targets, and for adjusting the targets in the case of inadequate funding availability or emergencies. In other areas, such as freight, national measures and targets would not yet be established.

The proposed legislation can be found on the T&I Committee's web site,http://transporation.house.gov. The Committee is aware that its proposal is a starting point and invites feedback from the transportation community. One of the outstanding issues relates to the timeframe for implementation. For example, the current draft calls for each state to establish preservation targets within 6 months after the legislation is enacted. Relying on expertise from others, the draft released in June 2009 will continue to be revised and modified in the coming months.

2.2 FHWA

Jim March from the FHWA Office of Policy and Governmental Affairs presented an overview of FHWA's ongoing performance management activities. These activities include:

  • Internal Assessment of Program and Implementation Options - Recognizing the political imperatives that will likely incorporate performance and accountability into Federal transportation programs. FHWA is conducting an assessment of internal implications associated with implementing a performance-based program.
  • Broad-Based Research Program - FHWA also is conducting two research studies related to performance management. The first, titled Framework for Implementing a Performance-Based Federal - Aid Highway Program, is a short-term effort focused on developing a framework for a performance-based Federal transportation program. The second, titled Performance-Based Management of Federal-Aid Highway Programs, has a longer timeline, and will provide more technical details on performance management issues. This effort will include an assessment of performance management in other Federal programs (such as education) and other countries, and explore the relationships between benefit/cost analysis and performance management.
  • Recent International Scan -FHWA participated in a recent international scan to learn more about how several advanced countries use performance management to achieve performance results (this effort is described in more detail below).
  • Technical Assistance to Congressional Committee Staff - FHWA provided technical assistance to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee staff in drafting the authorization legislation described above and has also provided technical assistance to staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
  • Participation in AASHTO Standing Committee on Performance Management -FHWA participates in the activities of the AASHTO Standing Committee on Performance management and its task forces (these efforts are described in more detail below).


Tony Kane, AASHTO Director of Engineering and Technical Services, provided an update on AASHTO's Standing Committee on Performance Management (SCOPM), summarized the proceedings of the recent CEO Leadership Forum on performance management, and presented the findings of the international scan on the linkage between transportation performance and accountability.

Standing Committee on Performance Management

The SCOPM is divided into eight task forces, one for each of AASHTO's six goal areas (safety, preservation, congestion, systems operations, environment, and freight/economics) as well as for planning and programming and comparative measures. Kane presented a status report on each task force.

  • Safety -The Safety Task Force recommends that fatalities (reported as a three or five-year moving average) be used as the safety measure, and that each state set aggressive targets to help achieve a national goal of halving fatalities in two decades, with a long-term vision of zero fatalities.
  • Preservation -The Preservation Task Force has recommended three measures - present serviceability index (PSI) or remaining service life, international roughness index (IRI), and percent of structurally deficient bridges (weighted average by deck area). While there is discussion of establishing national goals for the Interstate and rest of the National Highway System (NHS), a national goal has not yet been recommended.
  • Congestion -The Task Force has considered many performance measures related to congestion, but is having difficulty identifying one measure that suits all states.
  • System Operations- Establishing consensus on recommended systems operations measures will require more discussion with the states. However, metrics, in general, include those that quantify travel time reliability. The System Operations Task Force expects that two or three measures will be desirable. Functional class will be an important consideration to account for the distinction between urban and rural operational differences.
  • Environment -While work is still underway in this area, the Environment Task Force expects a measure of green house gases (GHG) to be recommended for the environment goal area.
  • Freight/Economics -The Freight/Economics Task Force is considering several candidate measures. However, the measures and measurement techniques require additional refinement before recommendations can be made.
  • Planning and Programming -The Planning and Programming Task Force is developing a definition of performance-based planning and programming that aims to deliver on the targets set at the national and state levels. This Task Force will develop a draft methodology that will revolutionize the current multimodal long-range planning and short-range programming processes of state DOTs and MPOs to deliver programs that will make progress toward achieving national (and state) goals and objectives.
  • Comparative Measures- The Comparative Measures Task Force will publish comparative reports on pavement and safety shortly. Additional results on bridges and incident management will be available early 2010. Development of comparable measures in the areas of congestion, environment, and freight/economics, as well as emerging areas like livability and sustainability, still requires considerable effort.

CEO Leadership Forum on Performance Management

In April 2009, AASHTO, FHWA, and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) sponsored a CEO Leadership Forum on Performance Management at the University on Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. The purpose of the event was to exchange best practices and experiences in performance management, identify strategic challenges, and develop research and action plans. Based on the Forum discussion and results of a survey conducted prior to the Forum (Table 2.1), there was consensus among Forum participants that states are ready to implement performance measures for pavements, bridges, and safety, but less ready in other areas. A report summarizing the Forum proceedings, including presentations and resulting action plans, will be published shortly.

Table 2.1 Prevalence of Performance Targets - Results of CEO Forum Survey
Goal Area Measures Only Measures and Targets Neither
Preservation 3 17 1
Freight/Economics 6 1 14
Safety 4 17 0
Congestion 8 9 4
System Operations 6 9 6
Environment 5 7 9

Source: Cambridge Systematics, Inc.

2.4 Linking Transportation Performance and Accountability: International Scan

In the summer of 2009, a panel of United States transportation professionals traveled to Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand to learn how these countries have incorporated performance management into their surface transportation programs.

The scan team found asset management to be an integral part of transportation programs in each country visited. Asset management is considered a viable model for managing pavement, bridges, safety features, and traffic hardware, as well as for operating highways (e.g., maintaining average journey to work time or reliability of the system). The scan team identified several examples of asset management tools and techniques that can potentially inform practices in the United States. These include more inclusive costs and benefits in benefit/cost analysis and “value for money” analysis; greater reliance on economic/financial accounting techniques by transportation agencies during discussions with treasury departments; and the use of risk analyses to make investment tradeoffs between and within asset classes.

Overall, the scan team found that performance management is an accepted, but evolving approach to the business of transportation. In each country accountability through performance measures have been built into the transportation program. In every case, performance management followed a learning curve that resulted over time in fewer measures and in more emphasis being given to performance trends rather then specific targets. A full report of the scan findings will be published shortly.

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Updated: 05/12/2015
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