Creating a TAM Unit
An agency can conduct an assessment of where TAM-related functions currently are by making a list of TAM roles and where they exist in the agency. This will determine if there are gaps in needed roles. It will then be necessary to decide whether TAM roles should be added to existing business units, or if it is best to have a TAM unit that performs the roles and responsibilities.
If an agency decides to create a TAM unit, the roles and responsibilities that the unit performs can initially be based on the gap assessment. A beneficial aspect of a TAM unit is that it can focus on specific activities, such as the development and implementation of a federally-compliant TAMP.
Placing a TAM leader or TAM unit in the executive office signals the importance of TAM to the agency and provides a close connection to agency leadership. However, the executive office typically has less direct access to technical staff support than planning or engineering units. Connections to individuals with delivery-oriented responsibilities are also less direct than they would be in an engineering or maintenance office. If the TAM unit is not in the executive office, it’s important that there is an executive involved with the TAM program to both understand how TAM is benefiting the agency and to communicate the importance of TAM to the rest of the agency.
Locating a TAM leader or TAM unit within a planning office establishes a tight connection to long-range planning and, in some agencies, project programming. This fosters a long-term view of asset investments and an integrated approach to meet preservation, safety, mobility and other objectives. However, in many agencies, the planning function is not closely connected to project selection, and may have less engineering expertise. In these agencies, planning has less influence over asset preservation investment decisions.
Creating a TAM leadership position or TAM unit within an engineering office puts it in proximity to capital design and construction (program delivery) activities. This will tend to give TAM more influence at the agency, as well as access to technical staff resources. Typically, the engineering office takes care of models for asset condition (i.e. pavement and bridge management units), and optimizing asset treatment decision making. However, because of the project delivery focus, there is less connection to long-term planning, systemwide performance, or routine maintenance.
Maintenance and Operations Office
Designating a TAM leader or TAM unit within a maintenance and operations office provides a strong connection to what is happening “on the ground” with respect to asset performance. It also provides an opportunity to emphasize proactive preservation activities to cost-effectively extend the useful life of assets. However, maintenance is rarely involved in long-term planning or capital programming, so the TAM unit may have less influence on overall funding.
The practice examples below illustrate states that have TAM units in the four different agency locations. There is no one right way to locate the lead TAM unit. Figure 3.1, Locating TAM within the Agency, shows where the lead TAM unit is located in 2019 across the US states. The most commonly used location is the planning function.
TAM involves many integrative functions that require collaboration across business units. This map shows the results of an informal survey of the location of the TAM lead within each state department of transportation.
Figure 3.1 Locating TAM within the Agency: An Informal Nationwide Survey