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Conditions and Performance Report. Appendix D.

Conditions and Performance Report
Appendix D—Asset Management and
Investment Strategies: An Update

Conditions and Performance Chapter Listing

Conditions and Performance Home Page


Current Practice

Assessment of Current Practices

Improving the Process

Strategies for Implementation



Strategies for Implementation
(How Do We Get There?)


Recent Federal and State Initiatives

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and FHWA have made Asset Management a national priority. AASHTO is providing national leadership and guidance to States as they work to incorporate Asset Management principles and practices into their business process. The goal is to supply generic Asset Management approaches to organizational integration, performance-measure development, application of analytical tools, and information management. These generic processes and tools may then be directly utilized ("as is") or be applied after in-house and/or customized revisions. The potential advantage of adopting the generic approach is cost effectiveness, as well as the opportunity to share technical expertise and experience with other States.

Although the fundamental tenants of Asset Management will be visible in each State practicing the discipline, the assumptions made, the tools employed, and the information used will vary from State to State. Each State will bring its unique organizational strengths and perspective to the implementation process. In addition, each State's Asset Management system will reflect its unique decision-making process. One size will never "fit all" in State Asset Management.

AASHTO and FHWA jointly sponsored two major executive workshops in 1996 and 1997 to explore and benchmark the application of Asset Management in transportation agencies. These workshops introduced the Asset Management concept and provided information on private-sector activities in this area. The first workshop emphasized the importance of a comprehensive approach to managing the Nation's transportation system. Participants included high-level executives from AASHTO, FHWA and State DOTs and leaders in Asset Management from non-transportation sectors that shared Asset Management-related concerns with the transportation community.

During the second conference, participants were charged with evaluating current Asset Management practices and techniques. As discussed earlier in this Appendix, the current approach to managing assets is component-by-component. Participants also began to explore what an integrated, comprehensive approach to managing assets might mean for their agencies. A major goal of the workshop was to formulate a strategy for advancing Asset Management as a national initiative. AASHTO responded to input from this conference with the establishment of an Asset Management Task Force, development of a Strategic Plan, and sponsorship of an Asset Management Guide for State Transportation Agencies.

The AASHTO, with technical assistance from FHWA, is sponsoring a National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) project to develop the Guide [NCHRP Project 20-24(11)]. The objective of this project is to provide:

  • A synthesis of current Asset Management practices and available tools;
  • A framework for an Asset Management system;
  • Recommended research for filling gaps in existing knowledge and developing tools for the next generation of the Guide; and
  • A first generation Asset Management Guide for use by AASHTO member agencies which will (1) offer advice on how to effectively apply and/or enhance Asset Management principles to their unique organizations; and (2) highlight case studies of best practices among the States.

This work will lay the foundation for defining initiatives to advance integration efforts within State DOTs. Upon completion of the NCHRP activity in 2001, AASHTO, in consultation with FHWA, will determine the appropriate next steps to continue to assist the States in advancing Asset Management.

The executive workshop series is recognized as a valuable forum for exchanging information and was continued with a peer review seminar in December 1999 that focused on current State capabilities in various aspects of Asset Management to include:

  • Moving from a concept to an action plan
  • Integrating maintenance management systems
  • Integrating management systems
  • Integrating data
  • Assessing preservation and improvement trade-offs.

Details of State experience in these areas were shared as part of the peer exchange.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Initiatives

AASHTO has traditionally set standards and provided guides for many different aspects of transportation system design, construction, management and investment. This information provides a point of reference and guidance for AASHTO member agencies as they develop their own approaches; AASHTO standards and guides are intended to suggest and not to mandate.

In this context, AASHTO is assisting States in improving their business practices through the advancement of Asset Management principles and practices. AASHTO has taken the lead in bringing together States and facilitating knowledge sharing and resource pooling to enhance existing tools and procedures and to develop new approaches and tools.

Task Force

On November 16, 1997, AASHTO created an Asset Management Task Force of nine experts drawn from State DOTs. The Task Force's mission is to provide guidance for State Asset Management activities and develop and distribute to member States innovative Asset Management approaches, processes, and tools. Early work has included organizing the executive seminars which were discussed earlier, developing a strategic plan (see below) and sponsoring the NCHRP Guide, also discussed previously.

Strategic Plan

In November 1998, the AASHTO Board of Directors approved an Asset Management Strategic Plan. The plan establishes AASHTO's vision, mission, goals and it recommends actions regarding Asset Management. It also points the way toward work that will fill technological gaps.

The goals specified in the Strategic Plan are to (1) document the state-of-the practice; (2) conduct major seminars and information sharing; (3) develop an Asset Management guide that will document the state-of-the-practice and state-of-the-art and will bridge the gap between the two; and (4) provide needed training.

Federal Highway Administration Initiatives

In conjunction with AASHTO efforts and as part of the Agency's reorganization, the FHWA created an Office of Asset Management in February 1999. The Office affirms the Agency's commitment to partnering with AASHTO to advance Asset Management principles. The Office's primary role is to provide technical assistance by developing tools, techniques, training and consultative services to the States, as they work to adopt a comprehensive, fully integrated Asset Management program.

The Federal government is uniquely suited to provide technical assistance in the area because all 50 States can benefit from a nationally coordinated technical program, rather than 50 disparate efforts. Although the States own and operate the assets targeted by Asset Management, AASHTO has asked FHWA to help with research and development, training and other technical areas because of the expense and requirements for staff expertise associated with these activities.

The Office is composed of a multidisciplinary staff drawn from economics, engineering, policy, planning, and technology assessment areas. Three teams make up the new Office:

  • System Management and Monitoring;
  • Construction and System Preservation; and
  • Evaluation and Economic Investment.

The teams work together on overlapping activities.

The Construction and System Preservation Team is responsible for construction and maintenance, technical support and outreach, quality management, pavement smoothness and system preservation. FHWA has placed a special emphasis on preservation as the Agency's mission has shifted from building the Interstate System to preservation of infrastructure assets. The National Qaulity Initiative (NQI), a partnership effort among AASHTO, FHWA, and related industry associations, is housed within this team. The NQI objective is to focus attention on continuous quality improvements within the highway industry. New team initiatives include the establishment of a joint AASHTO/Industry/FHWA agreement for optimizing highway performance.

The System Management and Monitoring Team is charged with refining and advancing pavement and bridge management systems and with developing and promoting new systematic approaches for assets where they presently do not exist, such as for tunnels and roadway hardware. The team is partnering with States and FHWA field units to develop a toolbox for implementing the new AASHTO pavement standards for the International Roughness Index, rutting, faulting, and cracking that were issued in the summer of 1999. In a related area, the team initiated a pilot study with selected States and with FHWA's Office of Pavement technology to analyze the real-life performance of Superpave pavements through the use of PMS data as an "engineering analysis tool." This project will also demonstrate how PMS data can be used as input to future pavement designs.

The Evaluation and Economic Investment Team's portfolio includes outreach activities designed to explain and promote Asset Management. It also has the lead in developing, recommending and advancing initiatives to facilitate Asset Management principle-centered strategic investment decisions. Two primary tracks have been identified: (1) identification and development of procedures to facilitate horizontal and vertical integration and (2) development and promotion of an array of procedures for inclusion in an EEA toolbox, such as life-cycle cost analysis and benefit/cost analysis.

Essential to the FHWA Office of Asset Management are cooperative programs with AASHTO, the Transportation Research Board, industry, and other Federal and State agencies to support and advance Asset Management.

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