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Performance Based Planning and Programming Guidebook

8. Programming - Develop Investment Priorities in the TIP/STIP

Programming consists of resource allocation to specific projects and strategies. It is the culmination of the PBPP process, and thus plays a critical role in the PBPP approach. Under a PBPP framework, the TIP/STIP documents can serve as information rich documents that communicate the specifics of investments, their funding sources, and how they are contributing to transportation system performance improvements.

The key products in programming are the MPO Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and a State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). These are documents that identify projects that will be funded, the timeframe for implementation, and the sources of funding that are being committed. The STIP must incorporate projects shown in all MPO TIPs in the state, as well as transit projects. Inclusion in the STIP makes the project eligible for federal funding. Within a PBPP process, the process for selecting projects and strategies for programming should tie directly to the goals in the LRTP.

Projects and strategies can originate from:

Linking Planning to Programming

Linking the LRTP to the TIP and STIP is a key step in the PBPP. Establishing a strong linkage between planning and programming has been a difficult issue for many MPOs and DOTs.

At MPOs, a pool of cost feasible projects is identified for development over the next twenty years in the LRTP. The TIP draws upon the pool of projects and prioritizes projects that will be built over the next four years. For MPOs, the programming process can involve assigning project selection criteria to the projects in the cost feasible plan. Project selection criteria are evaluation metrics that are used to rank projects. A performance-based LRTP will contain a narrative section that details the criteria that will be used to narrow the long-range project list into a short-range program. Ideally, the project selection criteria for the TIP will reflect those used to evaluate the needs in the plan. Once projects and strategies are prioritized based on project selection criteria, the next step is to match available funding streams to projects and strategies. By comparing funding stream eligibility to the purpose and need statement of each project, funding is matched to the highest priority projects.

As an example, the Atlanta Regional Commission developed and implemented a project prioritization method in Envision6, its RTP and TIP, which evaluates capacity expansion projects (transit, roadway, and HOV lanes) based on their environmental impact, support for regional land use policies, and ability to reduce congestion. All system expansion projects in the region's RTP were evaluated with this method based on intersection with six critical environmental areas, and data for each area was mapped and compared with the proposed projects.[42]

To make the connections between planning and programming, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), the MPO for the Detroit area, tracks the consistency of projects in its TIP with the investment levels identified in the LRTP. The LRTP identifies preferred funding levels for each major program, and SEMCOG tracks the consistency of actual projects programmed compared to the preferred levels.

In State DOTs, the linkage between the state LRTP and STIP is more complex. State DOTs typically have a wider pool of projects to consider in the programming phase. Further, the STIP must include projects from the TIP. State DOTs must also balance the needs of rural transportation planning organizations and transit operators. Despite these complicating factors, the linkage between the state LRTP and the STIP should be similar to that in a metropolitan area, with project selection criteria reflecting those used to assess priorities in the plan. An asset management plan is an important document for establishing the link between the agency's LRTP and the STIP.

As an example of a comprehensive approach connecting long range planning to programming, in 2009, the North Carolina Department of Transportation began a process to better ensure that projects and plans are developed, and funding is programmed, in a consistent, goal-oriented manner. The Department's "Policy to Projects" process begins with a 30-year long-range plan and concludes with a detailed 5-year work program. This new strategic prioritization and programming process uses a scoring process to prioritize projects based on quantitative data addressing factors such as congestion, safety, pavement condition, and benefit/cost associated with time savings; it also accounts for local input on rankings of projects, and assigns additional points for multimodal characteristics. [43]

Developing an Investment Plan

Some State DOTs develop mid-range investment plans or modal plans that identify projects, programs, and strategies at a more detailed level than the LRTP. An investment plan may be developed for a specific program area, for a specific mode, or geographical area, and serve as a connection between the LRTP and TIP or STIP. An investment plan may include: identification of investment needs to address system performance and regional or community priorities; projections of expected revenues; and prioritization of investments to balance various goals, given needs and projected revenues. Minnesota DOT uses this strategy, and is discussed in the text box below.

Minnesota Department of Transportation - LRTP Performance Focus Carries through Investment Plans and Capital Programs

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has integrated PBPP into a variety of plans and processes used for decisionmaking at the state level. The Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan, adopted in 2003, focused on three strategic goals in the areas of preservation, safety, and mobility, setting clear and measurable objectives for each area. In 2009, MnDOT updated the plan with changes in performance targets based on monitoring and feedback. The policy-oriented plan provides a framework for overall transportation strategy, while specialized plans including the Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan, System Investment Plans, Capital Programs, and biennial legislative budget request provide details about particular investments that will work to support policy goals and targets. MnDOT also has adopted several performance-based modal plans, including Freight, Bicycle, Transit, Highway Systems Operations, Highway Safety, and Aeronautics, which provide the foundation for performance-based resource allocation. For instance, each district developed a 20-year Highway Investment Plan for 2009-2028, which are derived into three timeframes: short range (2009-2012), which is incorporated into the STIP; mid range (2013-2018), and long range (2019-2028).

For more information, see:

Asset Management: State of New Jersey Statewide Capital Investment Strategy (SCIS)

The New Jersey SCIS helps decision-makers take a collaborative approach to asset management by developing investment options for transportation-asset categories using goals, objectives, and performance measures. The tool identifies investment needs in each asset category and establishes 10-year-target annual investment levels based on revenue levels and performance objectives. Most notably, SCIS links project funding selection with broad program objectives using a performance analysis that determines the potential success of various investment scenarios over time. One example of how this has worked in practice is the guiding strategies to achieve the state's goal of eliminating fifty percent of their backlog of deficient pavements over a ten-year time frame. Using SCIS, the State recommended increased funding for a variety of highway improvements, which spurred a comprehensive pavement program with multiple treatments designed to reverse declining statewide highway conditions. Despite competing transportation needs and limited funding, SCIS has provided New Jersey with the ability to focus more on better system-wide pavement quality and less on worst-first recommendation projects.

For more information, see

Project and Strategy Selection

Historically, the process for selection of projects and strategies for inclusion in the TIP or STIP has varied widely, is often poorly understood by stakeholders and the general public, and is not well connected to planning goals. Performance based programming promises to introduce more uniformity and transparency to the programming process.

Demonstrating the connections between individual projects and system performance targets is a critical area of focus for MPOs and State DOTs to demonstrate the connections between their individual projects and system performance targets. Traditionally, agencies have first looked at available funding programs and attempted to select projects based on their appropriateness for the funding that is available. This creates challenges in that there are different restrictions on funding from different categories and different levels of federal match or involvement. A successful PBPP plan or strategy requires that the projects be prioritized based on their ability to meet desired outcomes. The key is prioritization of projects through project selection criteria based on performance measures.

Consequently, a critical link from the plan to the program is defining project selection criteria that will effectively translate the plan identified outcomes to projects actually funded and implemented. Some areas have developed "scoring" techniques or other quantitative approaches in order to combine multiple attributes to make project decisions. Examples of varied ways in which project prioritization can be accomplished to support goals are noted below:

Some areas start out by allocating funding to specific categories of projects designed to support the goals and priorities outlined in the LRTP. This may involve distributing funding to programs or districts using a performance-based formula and then prioritizing projects within those program areas. For instance:

Other areas have utilized economic analysis tools to support analysis of alternatives. For example, Oregon DOT has explored using economic analysis approaches that account for multiple factors (e.g., benefit/cost analysis, "least cost planning") to rank project alternatives, either within individual project categories or across a set of categories.

Additional approaches include corridor approaches that develop preferred investment strategies for major corridors and then prioritize across those corridors; and optimization approaches within individual program areas (such as bridge and pavement management systems that identify sets of investments that minimize lifecycle costs). [47]

Finally, some agencies use optimization techniques in specific program areas to prioritize and program projects. These techniques identify not the best projects individually, but a package of projects that maximize performance of a full program of projects subject to funding constraints. These techniques are commonly used within bridge and pavement management systems to identify a program of projects that minimizes the lifecycle cost of investments.[48] The Transportation Asset Management Plan also is meant to improve coordination between the maintenance program and the capital program, and enhance resource allocation decisions through the application of risk management techniques.[49]

Communicating the Connections to Performance

Under a PBPP process, the LRTP contains goals, performance measures, and targets, and includes investments and strategies to support meeting those targets. In the programming process-culminating in the TIP/STIP-the projects that are funded should demonstrate support for the goals and targets set out in the LRTP. By monitoring the success of the funded projects to address performance goals, a feedback loop is created for each planning cycle. Demonstrating that improvements address key performance measures, it can then be tied to projects funded over the previous four years, creating a framework for demonstrating the effectiveness of investments. Establishing and maintaining monitoring efforts between plans, projects, and tracking performance throughout the feedback cycle also results in better financial accountability and transparency.

Using technology solutions, the STIP can be transformed from a static document into one that can be formatted, searched, summarized and displayed for a variety of audiences and purposes. Moreover, using electronic technology can help to increase efficiency, improve fiscal management and coordination among the State DOT and metropolitan/regional planning organizations (MPOs/RTPOs), and streamline the document adoption and amendment process. This conversion is described as electronic STIP (e-STIP).

Whether in a paper document or e-STIP, the document can help support the selection of projects that make the link to system performance goals and communicate to the public. Specifically, the document can:

It is important to also note that not all strategies identified in the LRTP are funded in the program - for example a land use strategy may not be implemented by the DOT and may have no money associated with it or only limited technical assistance funding. However, if these critical non-project strategies are included in the plan, they should be tracked and reported in some way. This tracking likely will come outside of the programming document, and may be included in on-going performance reporting or progress tracking reports associated with the LRTP.

Updated: 2/12/2015
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