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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-11-001    Date:  November/December 2010
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-11-001
Issue No: Vol. 74 No. 3
Date: November/December 2010


Internet Watch

by Alicia Sindlinger

Dashboard Tracks DDOT Projects

When President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act) in February 2009, he demanded unparalleled transparency on use of the recovery funds. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the department of transportation in Washington, DC, answered this challenge by developing and implementing a Web-based "DDOT Transportation Access Portal" (dTAP) for its initial 15 projects funded by the Recovery Act. The model worked so well, the agency now uses the portal to manage nearly 100 projects.

The dTAP system, available at http://dashboard.ddot.dc.gov, provides project information, including a brief description, budget, scheduling, updates, and links to related documents such as supporting studies. Since the portal's launch in early 2010, District of Columbia residents, business owners, elected officials, DDOT employees, and others looking for information on the agency's transportation program have accessed the site.

"The dTAP system is part of a larger DDOT effort to increase its transparency and ability to communicate with District of Columbia residents," says DDOT Director Gabe Klein. "This system, while launched as a beta program, is already proving to be a powerful tool bringing all processes, people, and technology together in one solution."

Designing a Multiple-Purpose Solution

Beyond meeting transparency requirements, DDOT had been looking for a way to centrally manage its project load and communicate project information within the agency and with the public. DDOT wanted a solution that balanced its internal needs (for example, project management and monitoring milestones for communications purposes) with the needs of residents.

"DDOT liked the dashboard our neighbors at the Virginia Department of Transportation developed and used that as a model for what we wanted to create for DDOT," says Karyn LeBlanc, director of communications at DDOT. "We modeled our dashboard after the straightforward look that Virginia used and then made adjustments to make it more District-centric."

 DDOT Director Klein tasked system designers with four main objectives: (1) increase stakeholder communication to achieve a higher level of responsiveness from the community; (2) increase project management consistency using a standardized toolset and provide a centralized location for project data; (3) create a system to promote transparent budgeting so public dollars are tracked accurately; and (4) establish project management processes and controls to trigger early identification of potential issues and to increase stakeholder involvement.

The project management solution enables DDOT to publish all of its Microsoft® Project plans to Microsoft SharePoint® , a software platform that allows users to access a Web-based user interface through a browser. The dTAP system makes it possible for DDOT and the public to closely monitor project budget and schedule performance.

Screen grab from the "DDOT Transportation Access Portal" at http://dashboard.ddot.dc.gov/default.aspx.
The home page of the "DDOT Transportation Access Portal."

Accessing Project Details

When visiting the dTAP home page, users will see the total percentage of DDOT projects that are on budget and on schedule prominently displayed in linear scales on the left-hand side. The home page also features a clickable map of the District showing its eight wards (divisions of the city). DDOT structured dTAP by ward to make finding information easier for District residents.

For example, a resident of Ward 1 can find all current projects in his or her neighborhood by clicking on Ward 1 on the map. A new page will load showing the total percentage of projects on budget and on schedule. In addition, the resident will see a list of projects located in Ward 1. Each project listing includes the project name, schedule status, percentage of overdue tasks, start and finish dates, percentage completed, and number of overdue tasks. If the resident is interested in a specific project, he or she can click on that project in the list and more detailed information will appear, such as scheduled meetings and events, project documents, budget, and a map showing the project's exact location.

Since the portal's launch, in addition to increased communication with residents and stakeholders, DDOT has realized benefits such as improved efficiency and reduced costs, greater control over processes to monitor project budget and schedule, improved data integrity and support, and improved project management consistency and standardization. According to LeBlanc, the department is continuing to make changes and improvements, which it hopes to introduce in 2011. Improvements will center on making the interface even more user friendly.

For more information, contact Karyn LeBlanc at 202-671-3490 or karyn.leblanc@dc.gov.

Alicia Sindlinger is a contributing editor for Public Roads.




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