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Performance-based Planning and Programming - White Paper

1.0 Introduction

The purpose of this white paper is to continue a dialog among the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and their planning partners and stakeholder associations on the elements of a performance-based planning and programming process. Planning partners include State Departments of Transportation (DOT), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO), and transit agencies. Stakeholder representatives are participating from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO), the American Public Transit Association (APTA), and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).

In response to recent economic, political, and social trends that have placed greater emphasis on public-sector accountability and cost-effectiveness, transportation agencies across the country have increasingly embraced performance management and performance-based planning and programming as a way to ensure that transportation resources are spent on projects and strategies that best serve communities' needs. In September 2010, a large group of staff and executives from State DOTs, MPOs, regional planning organizations, and transit agencies got together to discuss performance-based planning. That effort, with over 140 participants, was a first of its kind effort to bring together transportation agencies of all different types and sizes to discuss facets of performance-based planning.

A consistent message from the National Forum was that performance-based planning and programming represented best practice for the transportation agency and that additional work was needed both to define precisely what is meant by performance-based planning and programming and to identify the types of data and analysis tools to help agencies implement performance-based planning and programming within their own agencies.

More recently, in September 2011, FHWA and FTP, in cooperation with AASHTO, AMPO, APTA, and NADO held a National Workshop in Chicago, IL to continue to advance best practice in performance-based planning and programming by identifying common elements and a framework for implementing these practices within transportation agencies. This white paper was initially developed to support the National Workshop; the current version reflects the extensive feedback that was received at that workshop.

As with the previous effort, participants in the 2011 National Workshop agreed that performance-based planning and programming represented best practice for the transportation industry. But, many concerns were raised about how to implement these practices. Establishing a common framework for performance-based planning and programming will require collaboration across levels of government, transportation modes, and other boundaries. The white paper developed here is intended to be a joint effort by FHWA and FTP in close collaboration with their planning partners and representatives.

1.1 Key Concepts

This section describes the key concepts that will be discussed throughout this white paper.

Performance Management

Performance management is a strategic approach that uses system information to make investment and policy decisions to achieve performance goals. Performance management typically includes both the management of the transportation system and management of the organizations with responsibility for the transportation system.

Performance-based Planning and Programming

Performance-based planning and programming is an attempt to apply performance management principles to transportation system policy and investment decisions, providing a link between management and long range decisions about policies and investments that an agency makes in its transportation system. Performance-based planning and programming is a system-level, data-driven process to identify the strategies and investments.

Products of the Planning Process

Delivering a performance-based planning and programming process will require integrating performance management concepts into the existing process. The existing planning process includes a range of activities and products that take a transportation agency from broad goals and objectives to measurable indicators and then applies them in decision making regarding transportation investments and policy actions. These activities and products generally include:

Beyond these steps, project design, operations and ITS plans, and other processes carry projects from planning studies to implementation.

1.2 Organization of the White Paper

The white paper is organized as follows:

Updated: 6/14/2012
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