Getting Started with TAM
This page features information curated specifically for those new to asset management. Whether you are new to a transportation agency, recently joined an asset management division, or are a student beginning to learn about topics in asset management, you can to get started right here.
What is TAM?
As defined by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), TAM is a “strategic and systematic process of operating, maintaining, upgrading, and expanding physical assets effectively throughout their life cycle. It focuses on business and engineering practices for resource allocation and utilization, with the objective of better decision making based upon quality information and well defined objectives.”
TAM is important because of the size and value of the infrastructure that has been built. The total value of the existing inventory of U.S. transportation assets is staggering; based on data from FHWA Highway Statistics, the replacement value of U.S. bridges and pavement alone is over $5 trillion. TAM offers a set of tools and techniques applicable to sustain the condition and performance of the full range of transportation assets.
TAM has been a focus area for DOTs in the U.S. for over 15 years, paralleling similar efforts to improve asset management in infrastructure-intensive industries in the U.S. and abroad. Over this period, transportation agencies have worked to increase their understanding of the value and performance of existing assets; and implement improved asset management systems and approaches.
This guidance responds to the new challenges that have emerged since TAM was first recognized as a critical area in the U.S. transportation community such as: evolving business practices, technology advancements, constrained funding, changing environment, and legislative requirements.
It is important to establish key terms that are used throughout the Guide. While many of these terms have multiple or nuanced definitions, the definitions listed here are the assumed meanings used in the context of this Guide. Each chapter also lists important terms that expand on this list.
Transportation asset management (TAM) is defined by AASHTO as a strategic and systematic process of operating, maintaining, upgrading, and expanding physical assets effectively throughout their life cycle. It focuses on business and engineering practices for resource allocation and utilization, with the objective of better decision making based upon quality information and well defined objectives.
FHWA defines TAM similarly, stating, “Asset management is a strategic and systematic process of operating, maintaining, and improving physical assets, with a focus on engineering and economic analysis based upon quality information, to identify a structured sequence of maintenance, preservation, repair, rehabilitation, and replacement actions that will achieve and sustain a desired state of good repair (SOGR) over the lifecycle of the assets at minimum practicable cost.”
In the International Standards Organization (ISO) Standard 55000, asset management is defined as the “coordinated activity of an organization to realize value from assets. Realization of value involves the balancing of costs, risks, opportunities and performance benefits.” In addition, the ISO standard states that, “Asset management enables an organization to examine the need for, and performance of, assets and asset systems at different levels. Additionally, it enables the application of analytical approaches towards managing an asset over the different stages of its life cycle (which can start with the conception of the need for the asset, through to its disposal, and includes the managing of any potential post disposal liabilities).”
Performance measures are quantifiable metrics that are used to track progress toward goals, objectives, and established performance targets.
A performance target is a level of performance desired to be achieved within a specific time frame.
State of good repair (SGR) refers to a condition in which existing physical assets, both individually and as a system, are functioning as designed within their useful service life and are kept functional through regular maintenance and replacement programs.
Levels of service are an agency’s stated commitment to deliver asset service at a specified level of quality and reliability. Service levels can be asset performance-related or customer/regulatory-related (complaints, meeting regulatory requirements). These levels of service can include, but are not limited to, the historic “level of service” used to grade traffic congestion.
Asset condition refers to an asset’s current state, as specifically defined by its appearance, perceived level of service, and observed physical state, whether or not it impacts its performance.
Risk is the positive or negative effect of uncertainty or variability upon agency objectives. [23 USC 515.6]
Life cycle planning and management is a process to estimate the cost of managing an asset class, or asset sub-group over its whole life with consideration for minimizing cost while preserving or improving asset condition. [23 CFR 515.5]
Whole-life costing is the systematic consideration of all relevant costs and revenues associated with the development, operations, and maintenance of the asset.
Reliability-centered maintenance is a structured, risk-based approach for determining the maintenance requirement for any physical asset, based on its operating context within the agency.
Resource allocation is the process of assigning scarce resources to investments in transportation assets. The assigned resources can be money, staff time, contractor capacity, equipment, or other organizational requirements for assets. The investments can be capital projects, maintenance efforts, or other projects and activities that require the use of an organization’s resources through various delivery methods.
The foundation of a good TAM program is a set of principles that establishes the values of the agency and the standards by which the TAM program will be carried out. TAM principles are the underpinnings of all of the activities that will be taken in an agency’s TAM program and connect to its desired end results.
Policy-Driven. TAM should capture and respond to policy objectives, and provide meaningful information about how changes in the transportation system support these objectives. A TAM policy can set boundaries, clarify intent, and communicate the scope of a TAM program including types of assets that will be managed and what work activities to emphasize.. [NCHRP 551]
Performance-Based. TAM should have concrete objectives that are translated into system performance measures used for both day-to-day operation and longer-term strategic management. The use of performance data to support the management of assets enables agencies to select and deliver projects that achieve its objectives. Transparent processes allow for accountability to both internal and external stakeholders.
Risk-Based. Risk management plays a role in resource allocation, project selection, long-term planning and other essential parts of the TAM process. As such, an organization’s approach to risk management and the outcomes resulting from a risk assessment have important implications for TAM. An agency must establish a risk management approach and integrate risk management in TAM planning and decision making.
Strategically Aligned with Agency Priorities. TAM measures should be aligned with agency priorities and goals to ensure that investments made to extend asset service life provide the maximum impact to achieve long-term goals. Connecting performance measures to higher level strategic goals also supports an agency’s ability to communicate to customers and stakeholders how technical measures relate to system performance.
Transparent. TAM planning and results should be monitored and reported for both impact and effectiveness. Feedback on actual performance should influence agency goals and objectives, as well as future resource allocation and project decisions. Transparency and agency accountability are key in ensuring the long-term support of project partners, customers and stakeholders.
Information-Driven/Evidence-Based. Strategic decisions with respect to agency goals and TAM objectives should be evaluated using credible and current data. Decision support tools such as management systems should be applied to help in accessing, analyzing and tracking data, and must be an integral part of business and decision processes. Data requirements for performance measures should be realistic and feasible. [NCHRP 551]
Option Oriented. By taking a structured and repeatable approach to TAM decision-making, an organization improves its own resilience and ensures that it will continue to succeed even as new challenges arise and personnel changes over time.
Continuously Improved. TAM processes should provide managers with sufficient information to understand problems and suggest solutions. The agency should be committed to regular, ongoing processes of monitoring and reporting results in order to identify and implement improvements to system performance or further the effectiveness of TAM. [NCHRP 551]
Asset management encompasses the full set of business processes related to the management of physical assets. There are several key TAM elements listed below that offer the greatest opportunity to improve an agency's asset management efforts.
TAM Elements Overview
Monitoring the state of the assets and developing desired and expected Levels of Service (LoS). Performance measures are used to align agency investment decisions with organizational objectives, such as asset condition or system reliability, and to monitor progress towards achieving agency goals. In TAM, asset performance is most commonly defined in terms of asset condition or maintenance LoS. LoS provides the link between agency goals and the investments and interventions that should take priority when managing assets.
Maximizing use of available revenues. Agencies are faced with the problem of determining how to divide scarce resources between different asset types, in order to accomplish a variety of different objectives. TAM planning offers processes to help make these resource allocation decisions, such as Multi-Objective Decision Analysis (MODA) ), long term financial planning, and Life-Cycle Planning.
Monitoring and managing risk. In TAM, uncertainty complicates efforts to make decisions about the future and forces agencies to be nimble so as to effectively respond to unpredictable events and evolving conditions. An organization’s approach to risk management and the outcomes resulting from a risk assessment have implications for TAM. It is important to establish processes to track changes in risks over time and monitor actions taken to manage risks, through tools such as a risk register and/or a risk mitigation plan.
Investing in asset maintenance. State DOTs can specify their desired SGR, consistent with their TAM objectives, for the 10-year analysis period of their TAMP. This strategic long-term maintenance strategy helps agencies minimize the life cycle costs of preserving assets, while also managing asset performance to a defined target to the extent practicable with available resources.
Understanding the potential for asset failure and developing intervention strategies. Being aware of the potential for asset failure and making strategic investment decisions can help agencies prevent failures, reduce costs, and maintain a desired level of service. Over an asset lifecycle, a range of interventions are possible, from reactive, routine and preventative maintenance, to large investment associated with renewal, replacement and disposal.
Allocating resources and prioritizing work based on both short and long-term performance. The resource allocation process should support achieving short- and long-term goals. An agency must establish what scarce resources must be allocated, and what the constraints on these resources are. A key part of the process is to translate goals and objectives into performance measures so the agency can set target values for key measures and/or establish a target level of service.
Continuous improvement based on feedback. An agency should have regular, ongoing processes of monitoring and reporting results in order to identify and implement improvements to system performance or further the effectiveness of the performance management process. Ongoing monitoring, improvement and/or problem identification should be incorporated into the planning process to help adjust and determine future targets and processes.
Aligning the organization. Successful TAM depends on the alignment of a diverse set of internal business units and external partners and stakeholders. Strategic coordination and communication can bring these people and groups together to achieve TAM goals. In addition, the choice of a TAM organization model is important, and should align with and support agency policies and priorities.
Scope and Organization
This Guide is organized around the TAM Guide Framework. This framework is tailored for use by U.S. transportation agencies and incorporates critical areas deemed important to the daily application and advancement of TAM practice.
TAM Guide Scope
The AASHTO TAM Guide Framework groups the components of asset management into six basic areas. The four central areas in the figure capture the business processes involved in asset management.
TAM Strategy & Planning
An organization manages its assets not as an end in and of itself, but to achieve broader goals. These goals might include improving mobility, enabling economic growth, and reducing costs to travelers and the environment. It is important to place TAM in the context of an agency’s broader goals and objectives, establish the scope of an agency’s TAM effort, and determine how TAM integrates with the other activities performed by the agency. A Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP) helps establish this context, and preparing such a document is consistent with best practices in TAM. Additionally, U.S. State transportation departments and transit agencies are now required to develop TAMPs to comply with Federal requirements.
This encompasses the set of processes involved in determining how to manage an asset over its entire life, from construction or acquisition to maintenance and finally asset replacement or disposal. It addresses how to measure the level of service an asset is achieving and targets to achieve, how to best maintain an asset, and how to model the condition and performance of an asset in the future.
Managing assets requires determining how to best deploy a set of fi nite resources, including staff time, equipment, and budgets for operating and capital expenses. This area includes the processes involved in making resource allocation decisions, both for a given asset class, and across multiple asset classes considering a range of different objectives and constraints. Also, it addresses the development of financial plans summarizing expected sources and uses of asset management funds. TAM financial planning takes a long-term view of resource allocation to support the delivery of strategies that address asset needs at all stages of their service lives.
Monitoring and Adjustment
Ideally an organization’s approach to TAM and TAM-related decisions should be dynamic, with adjustments made in response to available data on asset conditions. This area includes processes related to measuring and monitoring asset performance, assessing risk, and making adjustments to investment decisions and business process to respond to changing conditions.
The remaining two areas detail factors that enable an improved asset management approach. The two enablers of an improved asset management approach are:
Information & Systems
TAM is very data intensive. It is important to have systems for tracking an organization’s inventory of assets and collecting needed data on asset conditions. Also, systems are often needed to connect to related data, including financial data and records of maintenance work. However, collecting asset data and implementing asset management systems can be costly and time consuming. It is important to develop an approach to information management that carefully considers what data are needed to support the organization’s goals, and how best to collect needed data.
Organization & People
All infrastructure-intensive organizations practice asset management in some manner. However, implementing a robust asset management approach incorporating best industry practices and a philosophy of continuous improvement requires having a robust organization and people with the correct mix of skills. Creating such an organization requires defining roles and responsibilities for TAM within an organization. Also, it is important to evaluate needed staff skills and to implement training programs to help existing staff improve their skillsets. Another important organizational factor is developing an approach for managing change within the organization to support a culture of continuous improvement.
The remainder of this guide further details the areas illustrated in the figure, with emphasis on those areas that are specific to TAM.
A basic feature of TAM is that it is interdisciplinary, and thus overlaps with a number of other areas, including but not limited to maintenance, project selection and budgeting, performance management, information technology, and risk. To the extent that other resources are available for addressing certain aspects of TAM, the text notes these overlaps and recommends other relevant resources.
The core elements illustrated in the TAM Guide Framework are further detailed in corresponding chapters of the Guide:
Chapter 1. TAM Basics discusses basic information of importance to any reader who is new to the concepts of transportation asset management.
Chapter 2. TAM Strategy & Planning discusses considerations in linking asset management to agency goals and objectives, and defining performance measures and targets for tracking progress.
Chapter 3. Asset Performance discusses developing life cycle plans that define how best to design, construct, operate, maintain and dispose of assets - and then executing those plans on a day-to-day basis.
Chapter 4. Resource Allocation details the process of making capital and maintenance investment decisions that provide the best long term performance given available resources, considering trade-offs and competing needs between different assets and investment objectives.
Chapter 5. Monitoring & Adjustment addresses topics including tracking asset health, responding to unplanned events, and managing risks to the asset inventory.
Chapter 6. Information & Systems addresses collecting needed asset data, and implementing management systems to support data collection and decision-making.
Chapter 7. Organization & People describes how to build an organizational structure that supports asset management, and develop processes for change management and training to build an awareness of asset management throughout the organization.
The Guide is an important tool that should be actively used as a reference by the transportation community. The principles and implementation techniques described here are universally applicable to all agencies managing transportation assets. While the target audience is primarily State Departments of Transportation (DOTs), local agencies managing metropolitan, county, or mixed transportation networks will also find it useful and appropriate to their needs.
Who Should Use this Guide?
The Guide is structured so that the reader can use a particular chapter, section, or topic as a source of advice; or use the whole in order to drive a systematic agency-wide implementation of asset management.
For those new to asset management who want to learn more. This Guide is a great starting point for DOT staff new to the field of asset management. Recent college graduates and new DOT employees hired in asset management roles, as well as DOT staff who have transferred to an asset management role from elsewhere in the agency will benefit from the overview of asset management provided in this Guide.
For practitioners. This Guide can help advance asset management practice at an agency. The framework is designed to provide information on all different aspects of asset management, so practitioners can easily access information specific to the challenges they are currently facing. Practitioners can also learn about how peer agencies approach different aspects of asset management through the numerous practice examples throughout the Guide.
For executives. This Guide is intended to raise awareness among senior executives about the wider role TAM plays within the agency and how it can be implemented to improve organizational performance and achieve better outcomes in terms of cost and service to the public. Agency-wide TAM implementation needs to be led by top management using the principles of effective leadership. TAM is an organizational culture and professional discipline that should not be switched on and off with the regular election cycle – it needs continuity and support even as leadership within the organization changes. Implementation needs to transcend administration.
Ways to Use this Guide
The Guide provides an overview of TAM topics and also includes practice examples, how-to guides, checklists, and references.
Basic Overview of TAM
A general overview of TAM is provided in Section 1.1. This is a great place for people who are new to asset management to learn the basic fundamentals and benefits of TAM before getting into the details in the remaining chapters.
Each chapter of Guide provides topical guidance for the practitioners looking to advance a particular aspect of TAM within their agency. While there are certainly cross-cutting topics in TAM that are mentioned in more than one chapter, each chapter is meant to be a stand-alone topic that a practitioner will find useful without having to read the entire Guide.
How-To Guides and Checklists
Each chapter of the Guide features How-To Guides and Checklists. How-to Guides provide step-by-step guidance on achieving a specific aspect of TAM. Checklists address items that should be place to advance TAM practice in a specific way within an agency.
Each chapter concludes with a summary of the typical level of practice of a generic Department of Transportation for three levels of maturity: emerging, strengthening, and advanced. The maturity examples are meant to provide some context for the concepts discussed within the chapter, and the degree to which an agency adopts them in how they conduct service delivery.
Emerging. The agency is beginning to improve their asset management practices and is emerging to a new way of conducting service delivery. The agency has initiated early steps to advance practices and has a plan for future improvements.
Strengthening. The agency has established many aspects of a functioning asset management system, achieved several important improvements in how it embeds asset management leading practice into the agency, and continues to strengthen its practices to achieve future goals.
Advanced. The agency is a role model among its peer agencies and has fully implemented asset management practices across the organization. TAM has become how the agency does business, with a commitment to continuous improvement over time. The agency is advanced relative to most of its peers.
Where applicable, helpful tips are included in each chapter. These short and practical items help reinforce the concepts discussed in the chapter. They can also indicate key points to remember when applying the guidance
At the end of each individual section of the Guide references are provided for more details on specific topics. Practitioners who want to learn more are encouraged to access these references and take advantage of the various resources that are currently available.
Frameworks and Guidance
There are numerous existing frameworks, models, and guidance documents related to asset management. This Guide is intended to build upon these existing resources and provide updated information where necessary.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
ISO has published a set of standards on asset management. Standard 55000 provides an overview of asset management and asset management systems (i.e. management systems for the management of assets). It also provides the context for ISO 55001 and ISO 55002. International cooperation in the preparation of these standards has identified common practices that can be applied to the broadest range of assets, in the broadest range of organizations, across the broadest range of cultures. The adoption of this International Standard enables an organization to achieve its objectives through the effective and efficient management of its assets. The application of an asset management system provides assurance that those objectives can be achieved consistently and sustainably over time.
Additional standards related to asset management include ISO 55010 which covers guidance on alignment of asset management, finance and accounting; and ISO 55011 which covers guidance on the development of government asset management policy. For more information, the standard is available to purchase: https://www.iso.org/standard/55088.html
Figure 1.3 Relationship between key elements of an asset management program
The gray box designates the boundary of the asset management system
Source: Adapted from ISO 55000. 2016
Publicly Available Standard (PAS) 55
Prior to the development of ISO 55000, the Publicly Available Standard (PAS) 55 was released by the British Standards Institute. This standard contains terms and definitions; information on asset management policy, strategy, and objectives; discussion on implementing asset management plans; as well as performance assessment and improvement information. The standard is available to purchase: https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/#iso:std:iso:55000:ed-1:v2:en.
Figure 1.4 Planning and Implementation Elements of an Asset Management System
Source: Adapted from PAS 55
Institute of Asset Management (IAM)
The IAM publication, Asset Management – An Anatomy (2015), provides a basic overview of asset management and its benefits. It also provides a discussion of six asset management subject areas: Strategy and Planning, Asset Management Decision-Making, Life Cycle Delivery, Asset Information, Organization and People, and Risk and Review. These subject areas are reflected in the framework shown in Figure 1.5.
IAM also has information on developing and maintaining a Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP). All of their resources can be found on their website: https://theiam.org/.
Institute of Public Work Engineering Australasia (IPWEA)
IPWEA has produced the International Infrastructure Management Manual (IIMM). This guide provides checklists, process, guidance, and case studies on asset management practice from agencies globally. The manual contains guidance for all infrastructure types and is suitable for agencies of all levels of maturity. The manual is written to align with ISO 55000 with a focus on how to implement asset management concepts.
The IIMM must be purchased from the IPWEA online bookshop which can be accessed here: http://www.nams.org.nz/pages/273/international-infrastructure-management-manual-2011-edition.htm.
UK Road Liaison Group
The UK Road Liaison Group developed the publication titled Well-Managed Highway Infrastructure: A Code of Practice. This code is designed to support and promote the adoption of an integrated asset management approach to highway infrastructure based on the establishment of levels of service through risk based assessment. The code is broken into four sections: Overarching Principles, Highways, Structures, and Lighting. The Code also summarizes 36 recommendations put forward to the Department for Transport to enhance asset management across UK highway networks.
A PDF of this document is available online: http://www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org/en/utilities/document-summary.cfm?docid=4F93BA10-D3B0-4222-827A8C48401B26AC.
Legislation and Regulations
The federal government recognizes the importance of asset management practice and requires states to develop transportation asset management plans. Many state governments also have implemented laws related to asset management.
The transportation authorization legislation Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) signed into law in 2012 includes a number of provisions related to asset management and performance management for both highway and transit modes. The requirements established in MAP-21 were continued in the subsequent legislation Fixing America First Act (FAST) signed into law in 2015. For the highway mode MAP-21 defines asset management in the context of transportation and requires that State DOTs develop risk-based transportation asset management plans (TAMPs) for assets on the National Highway System (NHS). The law also includes a number of requirements related to performance management. Regarding transit MAP-21 requires that U.S. transit agencies develop TAMPs that detail asset conditions and include a prioritized list of state of good repair (SGR) investments.
Following passage of MAP-21 and FAST the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) developed rules detailing the TAM requirements for highways and transit, respectively. In 2016 FHWA finalized § 23 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 515 – Asset Management Plans. FHWA’s requirements specify that a TAMP should detail asset inventory, current conditions, and predicted future conditions over a 10-year period, using performance measures detailed in FHWA’s performance management regulations. The TAMP should include the following elements:
- Asset Management Objectives
- Asset Management Measures and Targets
- Inventory and Conditions
- Performance Gap Identification
- Life-Cycle Planning
- Risk Management Analysis
- Financial Plan
- Investment Strategies
In 2016, the FTA finalized asset management requirements U.S. transit agencies must follow. These requirements are detailed in §49 CFR Parts 625 and 630. The FTA requirements detail that transit agencies must prepare TAMPs covering a four-year period and including their revenue vehicles, infrastructure, facilities, and equipment (including service vehicles). Agencies must use a decision support tool to help analyze SGR investment needs and develop a prioritized list of needs. Larger agencies (with rail systems and/or 100 or more vehicles in peak revenue service) must include additional materials in their TAMP, such as a TAM/SGR policy, TAM implementation strategy, evaluation plan, and identification of resources required to implement the plan.
Assessment Tools and Maturity Models
Assessing asset management maturity helps establish goals and encourages improvement. This section provides information on existing assessment tools and maturity models agencies can use as resources.
TAM Gap Analysis Tool
This Excel-based gap analysis tool was developed under National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 08-90 and builds on the gap analysis tool introduced in the AASHTO Transportation Asset Management Guide – A Focus on Implementation. The tool helps agencies identify and prioritize needed enhancements to their asset management programs. The tool is available on the AASHTO TAM Portal: https://www.tam-portal.com/resource/aashto-transportation-asset-management-gap-analysis-tool-users-guide/.
IAM Maturity Scale and Guidance
The IAM Maturity Scale and Guidance document provides a generic maturity scale for agencies looking to assess their current asset management practice and determine ways to grow and mature. This guidance is available for purchase here: https://theiam.org/knowledge/Knowledge-Base/asset-management-maturity-scale-and-guidance/.
Data Gap Assessment Tool
To assess data and information maturity, agencies can use NCHRP Report 814, Data to Support Transportation Agency Business Needs: A Self-Assessment Guide. This report provides steps to prepare for the assessment, conduct the assessment, and improve and monitor the agency’s data and information maturity over time. The assessment approach presented is flexible and scalable to many different agency needs. The Guide helps agencies determine if they have the right data, if their data is good enough, if they are getting full value from their data, and what they need to do to improve.
TPM Assessment Tool
The self-assessment available on the Transportation Performance Management (TPM) Toolbox (https://www.tpmtools.org) is available to agencies looking to assess their level of performance management maturity. Three different assessment options are available: a quick, 2-minute assessment, a standard assessment, and an assessment by component of the TPM framework presented in the TPM Guidebook.
There are numerous opportunities available for practitioners to interact with people from peer agencies. The following committees and groups provide a way for agencies to share ideas, overcome challenges, and advance asset management practice.
AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It represents all transportation modes including: air, highways, public transportation, active transportation, rail, and water. It aims to foster the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated national transportation system. AASHTO is an international leader in setting technical standards for all phases of highway system development. The website is: https://www.transportation.org.
The AASHTO Committee on Performance-Based Management (CPBM) is dedicated to providing State DOTs the expertise and resources to support performance-based management and to create a results-driven environment to maximize the performance of both transportation systems and organizations. The committee is focused on Organizational Management, Systems Performance, and Federal Policy, Regulations and Programs.
The CPBM’s Subcommittee on Asset Management was created to help improve the State-of-the-practice of asset management in State DOTs. The Subcommittee works to help States optimize resources with performance-based goals and measures for operation, preservation, and improvement of their transportation systems.
Transportation Research Board (TRB)
TRB provides innovative, research-based solutions to improve transportation. TRB is a program unit of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, a non-profit organization that provides independent, objective, and interdisciplinary solutions. TRB manages transportation research by producing publications and online resources. It convenes experts that help to develop solutions to problems and issues facing transportation professionals, and provides advice through its policy studies that tackle complex and often controversial issues of national significance. The website is: http://www.trb.org/Main/Home.aspx.
TRB Committee on Transportation Asset Management. The Committee seeks to advance the State of the art and State of the practice in asset management. Asset management is a process to strategically manage the transportation system in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Asset management by its nature is a collaborative process, and the Asset Management Committee works with other TRB Committees across all modes, with the AASHTO Asset Management Subcommittee, and other partners.
FHWA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation that supports State and local governments in the design, construction, and maintenance of the Nation’s highway system, and various Federal and tribal owned lands. Through financial and technical assistance to State and local governments, the FHWA is responsible for ensuring that America’s roads and highways continue to be among the safest and most technologically sound in the world. The website is: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov.
FHWA TAM Expert Task Group (ETG). TAM ETG was formed as a forum to discuss changes in the way highway agencies are managing assets. The structure and membership of the TAM ETG were intentionally designed to ensure interaction with key AASHTO and TRB committees. Among its objectives, the TAM ETG aims to identify strategies for advancing asset management practice and influencing change within State DOTs and partnering with transportation agencies.
The IAM is the international professional body for asset management professionals. The IAM develops asset management knowledge and best practice, and generates awareness of the benefits of the asset management discipline for the individual, organizations and wider society. Established in 1994, the IAM has over 22,000 members in 158 different countries. The website is: https://theiam.org.
IAM US Patron Group. The Patrons of the IAM are a special group of Corporate Members who have committed to a high level of activity and engagement with the Institute, and on that basis, have been invited to become a Patron. The Patrons include leading asset managers, who, in exchange for significant support to the Institute, have great influence not only on the development of the IAM itself but also on the development of the discipline.
Integrating TAM Within Agency Strategic Plans and Policies
Integrating TAM within existing strategic documents is key to ensuring TAM is established and sustained.
TAM is not a stand-alone practice that is only applicable to select areas of a DOT. Ideally, TAM principles and practices should be integrated within an agency's vision, mission and strategy documents (see Figure 2.1). TAM promotes accountability, preservation, data-driven decision-making and the optimization of resources; all of these are broader strategic goals often outlined in plans and policies other than a TAMP. Aligning TAM with the agency’s strategic documents helps ensure an agency's vision is all encompassing and cohesive.
These documents include:
- Agency-wide strategic plan and/or business plan (including long-range plans)
- Agency-wide financial plan
- State long-range plan
- Other performance plans (safety, mobility, freight, etc.)
In addition, some agencies may choose to adopt a TAM policy with principles that the agency will follow. A TAM policy can be used to communicate the purpose of TAM and build understanding and support for TAM within the agency. It can also help to sustain a TAM approach through leadership changes. See the next section for further information on creating a TAM policy.
MDOT’s strategic plan has seven strategic areas of focus. A key focus area is System Focus, which aims to provide cost-effective, integrated and sustainable transportation solutions. The first strategy under this focus is to “apply asset management principles to prioritize and implement the most cost-effective transportation investment strategies.” This connection between MDOT’s strategic plan and their TAM program communicates the importance of asset management in how the agency conducts business. It gives TAM a seat at the agency-wide strategic plan monitoring sessions and allows for the resources needed to carry out TAM activities.
Source: Michigan DOT. 2017. MDOT Strategic Plan. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/MDOT_2017_StrategicPlan_553573_7.pdf
Creating a TAM Policy
A TAM policy describes the adoption of asset management principles for managing infrastructure. It defines the intent of the TAM program and can include how TAM will be carried out in the agency. Leadership direction on the policy helps achieve buy-in throughout the agency, making it easier to ensure it connects to and aligns with other strategic documents.
A TAM policy can be the first place an agency communicates the strategy of their TAM program. It can be thought of as a contract between the agency and its customers, partners and stakeholders that defines how TAM fits within the agency's decision making process.
Some elements of a TAM Policy can be included within a TAMP (TAM Objectives, Scope of TAM, connection of TAM to other planning initiatives, and TAM roles). However, a separate TAM Policy may provide those responsible for TAM within an organization the ability to challenge existing processes and approaches. A concise TAM Policy defines the principles that guide the decisions made during TAMP development and implementation.
A TAM Policy can outline the types of assets considered for management and identify where in the cycle of DOT work activities to emphasize asset management practices. It can also establish the high-priority initiatives on which the agency will focus their efforts. A TAM policy starts to set boundaries and clarify the intent of asset management.
A TAM policy may include:
- Definitions of services provided to customers and distinctions between service levels
- Approaches for managing assets from a whole life perspective
- Decision-making standards, based on the triple bottom line (economic, environmental, and social)
- Consideration of risk
- Approach for making transparent, data- driven decisions
For further details on developing a TAM Policy, see the how-to guide in this chapter.
The Oklahoma DOT identified the following TAM objectives to help guide their asset management program:
- Maintain (improve) the condition of the state’s bridges and roadways
- Reduce risk associated with asset performance
- Make better data driven decisions about assets
- Reduce costs and improve efficiency, including effectively delivering projects that support asset management
- Increase internal and external communications and transparency
- Improve customer service
- Improve safety on the state’s transportation system
- Enhance mobility of people and goods
TAM Goals, Objectives, Strategies
TAM goals and objectives support and communicate the policy and align with the broader agency vision, mission, goals and strategies. Goals and objectives may cover transportation system performance and desired outcomes, as well as agency decision-making approaches and practices. Some agencies have goals and objectives, while some have only goals and others have only objectives. Regardless of the terminology that is used, it is important that agencies set a vision and establish a direction to move towards. The Oklahoma DOT practice example highlights their TAM objectives.
Agencies should include a clear statement of TAM principles – either within the agency’s strategic documents or as a stand-alone policy. They should also seek opportunities to strengthen the integration of TAM within the agency’s strategic planning efforts.
Ingredients for Success in Creating a TAM Policy
The following are some of the key ingredients that make a TAM policy successful.
Leadership support and direction in the effort to create a TAM policy is important. Effective leadership ensures and maintains a connection across the various types of goals. A typical transportation agency has a lot of moving parts and multiple, sometimes conflicting, priorities. The nature of TAM and its success in meeting TAM goals involves actions that cut across individual business units. Leadership is a critical ingredient in creating positive change and maintaining processes across business units. See section 3.1 for more information on leadership.
Internal and External Stakeholder Engagement and Support
Involving groups and people who want a voice in the TAM program’s success, whether external partners or stakeholders or internal business units, is important for creating policies that will have a positive impact and are sustainable. See section 3.2 for more on stakeholder engagement.
There may be multiple ways to accomplish policy objectives, so the policy should be simple and flexible rather than complex and rigid.
Link to Performance Management
Performance management is an underlying component of good asset management. Policies should consider the ability to define performance measures, collect data and measure performance. They should also consider the cycle of setting objectives, monitoring performance and making adjustments. See section 2.2 for more on TAM performance and monitoring.
Amtrak’s Engineering Asset Management policy identifies guiding principles that the agency intends to use in managing the infrastructure it owns and maintains. Specifically, the policy focuses on developing asset management capability and implementing the TAMP. The policy begins with a purpose statement that defines asset management, and then lays out seven principles (or standards) to guide asset management practice. The principles highlight ownership, transparency, risk management, life cycle costs and information systems standards for Amtrak’s asset management practice. In addition, the policy also identifies responsibilities and leadership commitment, calling out specific positions in the agency and their role in delivering the asset management plan. The policy is included as a section in their asset management plan and is signed by the President and CEO, EVP Chief Operating Officer, and VP Chief Engineer.
FHWA Principles of Asset Management
FHWA has defined a number of basic principles for asset management as listed below. All of these ideas work together to help an agency make decisions to better address their infrastructure needs. Asset management should be:
Policy driven. Decisions reflect policy goals and objectives that define desired system condition and service levels.
Performance based. Performance information is used to establish target levels, to allocate funding, and to monitor progress.
Risk based. Risk management is used to identify, analyze, evaluate and address the risks to assets and system performance.
Option oriented. Comprehensive choices and trade-offs are examined at each level of decision making.
Data driven. Management systems and tools that utilize quality data are used to support decisions.
Transparent. There are clear criteria for making decisions.
Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and the demands on the transportation system have grown dramatically. Meanwhile, the system is aging. Seattle DOT (SDOT) needed to find a way to balance infrastructure expansion, preservation, and maintenance by aligning its Asset Management practices with its service delivery strategies. All of this had to occur within the limits of available resources and ensure that SDOT strategically managed the transportation system for years to come. SDOT’s Asset Management initiative provides a long-term vision of how SDOT intends to accomplish its mission. In 2007, the SDOT began implementation of Asset Management, a strategic and systematic process that guides decisions about construction, maintenance, and operation of SDOT infrastructure. The SDOT identified and adopted the following three key principles of asset management principles:
- Build, preserve, and operate transportation infrastructure services more cost effectively with improved asset performance;
- Deliver to customers the best value for public tax dollars spent; and
- Enhance the credibility and accountability of SDOT to the Mayor and City Council
These principles were intended to identify the outcome of a fully implemented asset management program at SDOT. They are supported by a longer list of asset management principles (https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/about-sdot/asset-management) and an Asset management Policy that identify the areas of focus. The Policy highlights the steps SDOT intends to take recognizing that achieving the key principles is a long-term effort achieved through continuous improvement.
In 2015, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) updated Policy Directive 14 (PD 14.0) “Policy Guiding Statewide Plan Development” to reinforce the importance of TAM in the transportation budget allocation process. It includes the following objectives:
- Infrastructure Condition – Preserve the transportation infrastructure condition to ensure safety and mobility at a least life cycle cost
- Maintenance – Annually maintain CDOT’s roadways and facilities to minimize the need for replacement and rehabilitation
Embedded in this policy are target-setting requirements that the Transportation Commission requested. A performance tracking mechanism is tied to this policy directive. This performance management focus is reinforced annually in a PD14 workshop hosted by the Transportation Commission where the most recent performance results are presented.
Source: Colorado DOT Scorecard, 2017.
ISO 55000 adopts the concept of an Asset Management System, as the figure at right illustrates, which typically consists of several components:
- An organizational strategic plan that set the overall context
- An asset management policy establishes the principles on which the agency makes decisions associated with the management of and investment in infrastructure. It seeks to link the organizational goals and objectives to the principles for management of the infrastructure portfolio.
- The Asset Management Strategy, (sometimes termed the Strategic Asset Management Plan or SAMP) establishes how the agency overall will implement asset management and implement the AM Policy. It articulates a framework of how management processes will function in managing infrastructure and delivering services, as well as how the agency will continuously improve their asset management practices over time.
- Asset management plans developed for individual asset classes (pavements, bridges, ancillary assets) are focused on their individual portfolios. However, they align with the overall agency strategy and are customized to the level of management required.
- Operational plans and work programs guide routine activities and have a line of sight to overall agency goals in this structure.
Within the ISO structure, the TAM framework includes these components but each component may vary in scope. For example, the SAMP may require all asset classes to forecast demand, establish service levels and have performance indicators, but compliant sub-asset management plans may have different levels of complexity. A bridge asset management plan may be more robust than one for network culverts. The agency can select the scope and structure appropriate for each aspect within the portfolio.
Asset Management System Components
Source: IPWEA. 2015. International Infrastructure Management Manual (IIMM). https://www.ipwea.org/publications/ipweabookshop/iimm
Planning and Programming
Linking and aligning asset management with planning and programming activities helps strengthen an agency's delivery of projects. Planning and programming processes set strategic direction and resource allocation practices; TAM helps set priorities and encourages data-driven, performance-based decision-making.
Planning is the process of setting strategic direction through goals and objectives, then performing analysis to identify trends, strategies, and long-term investment priorities. Planning answers the questions of where to go and how to get there. Programming involves allocating resources in order to determine a program of projects the agency will pursue. Planning and programming are central to the work of any transportation agency. Integrating TAM into the planning and programming process will only strengthen and sustain the practices involved in both areas.
Developing the Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) are two planning activities where the integration of TAM is especially relevant.
TAM principles, data and tools can help shape the LRTP and STIP by:
- Linking agency resource allocation to policy objectives.
- Defining the performance targets to be achieved.
- Identifying strategic investment choices and evaluating and analyzing tradeoffs among them at the appropriate stages.
- Providing the information and analyses to facilitate the appropriate resource allocation decisions that follow good TAM practice.
Integrating TAM approaches with planning and programming goes beyond informing and shaping the activities. Communication and coordination between activities and the people involved in them is important as well. Both planning and TAM require an understanding of the life cycle of an asset. This requires coordination with operations teams to communicate how decisions impact the expected useful life of the asset. Operations teams also need to be aware of the asset management planning horizon, performance measures and targets. These teams need to ensure the capital plan has been accounted for in the maintenance and operational plans. In addition, since planning is a network-level endeavor, teams managing each of the different asset types need to communicate with one another and coordinate with planning.
The following are some key questions to ask when considering the integration of TAM with planning and programming.
- Is the cost of maintenance and operations taken into account in the decision-making process to select capital projects?
- Are there mechanisms to directly evaluate tradeoffs between capital investment and operations and maintenance implications within the planning process?
- Are the needs and implications associated with connected and autonomous vehicles considered in the asset management plan?
- Are future risks such as climate change fully integrated into the capital planning process (rehabilitations, renewal, service level upgrades, etc.)? Is scenario planning used to assess the risk effects of system wide external changes?
The FHWA Asset Management Financial Report Series, Report 4 Integrating Financial Plans into the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting Processes describes the importance of integrating planning, programming, and budgeting with asset management.
The relative timeframes of various planning and programming activities is shown in figure 2.2.
Figure 2.2 The Relative Timeframes Between Plans
Long-range plans, asset management plans, TIPs, and state budgets should be aligned.
Source: FHWA, 2017. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/plans/financial/hif16001.pdf
When developing their 2018 TAMP MDT aligned their pavement performance targets and goals to those within their planning document TranPlan 21 (now TranPlanMT). TranPlanMT defines MDT's policy direction for operating, preserving, and improving Montana’s transportation system over a 20-year period. It serves as the guiding document for MDT decisions, especially those related to investing Montana’s limited transportation funds. This type of alignment can help illustrate a link from policy objectives to investment strategies and resource allocation.
Assessing Current Practice
An assessment of current agency competency against industry-leading practice enables an agency to assess a desired future performance level. It can also help to identify the steps required to reach that goal.
TAM is an evolving process; ongoing improvement is an important component for a TAM program. In fact, the ISO 55001 Asset Management certification requires ongoing assessment and continual improvement.
A gap assessment process is used to understand how well an agency aligns with an established asset management framework. The gap assessment can be conducted internally or by a third party. Organizations seeking or wanting to maintain ISO certification will also undergo a formal third party audit.
The results of a gap assessment can help agencies identify changes in business processes needed to better link plans and decisions and better align to leading practice.
NCHRP Project 08-90 led to the development of a gap analysis tool, available through AASHTO and the TAM Portal. Figure 2.8 illustrates how this assessment tool is intended to be used. There are several other frameworks that can be used, including ISO 55001 and the Institute of Asset Management (IAM). A range of gap assessment framework’s are discussed further in Figure 2.9. Each framework, process or tool will enable an agency to assess current performance and, from this, identify a desired capability level.
Figure 2.8 TAM Improvement Cycle
Source: Modified from original in NCHRP Project 08-90
In some cases, agencies also seek benchmarks that reflect how peers are performing to help them decide on the level of maturity and complexity to which they should aspire. ISO 55001 trends away from this. It encourages agencies to check against a framework of practices and process, and select what is best for the agency. Chapter 6 addresses benchmarking and related topics.
Actions to close gaps between desired and actual performance should be addressed within a TAM improvement or implementation plan.
Undertaking a gap assessment can form an important part of a change management process by aligning those within the agency on current performance, opportunities and targets for improvement.
Table 2.1 - Frameworks for Assessing Current Practice
|Framework||NCHRP 08-90 Gap Analysis Tool||ISO 55001 Asset Management Gap Analysis||International Infrastructure Manual (IIMM)||IAM Self-Assessment Methodology|
|Background||This tool was developed based on the tool and process created through development of the 2011 AASHTO TAM Guide.|
Uses a point scale for evaluating current and desired capabilities.
|This is the most widely adopted standard for asset management globally. It is generic to accommodate many contexts. Describes a management system approach to asset management.|
|Recognizing that the ISO Standards for asset management are very much the “What to do”, the IIMM looks to provide the “How to do it”.|
Identifies an Asset Maturity Index (Aware, Basis, Core, Intermediate, Advanced) to identify the current and an appropriate level of asset management for each asset.
|As an aid to the application of ISO 55001, the IAM decided to update their methodology into one that enables organizations in all sectors to measure their capabilities against the requirements of both PAS 55 and ISO 55001.
|Assessment or Focus Areas||
|Why use this framework?||This framework is best for an agency that wants to work explicitly within a US-defined context that adopt wider influences. Since this tool can be fully customized by an agency, an agency that wants to tailor the analysis to their particular needs will find this useful. Finally, the tool facilitates the analysis of data, and can generate graphs and charts using the data imported into it.||This framework is ideal for agencies that want to adopt a world-recognized approach to asset management that provides a developed asset management lexicon. This is currently the most internationally-recognized standard in the world.||This framework has been refined over time with many examples that illustrate successful application of concepts by organizations. Public agency focused, and largely written for the asset management practitioner responsible for civil assets.||This standard is well recognized internationally, is infrastructure agnostic, and has applicability to infrastructure owners in both the private and public sector. It has many other resources developed along with the framework including training materials, reference guides and courses to upskill an agency.|
In 2016, Amtrak Engineering undertook an Asset Management Capability Assessment which bases maturity on the degree of formality and optimization of processes. The assessment uses several questions grouped into eight assessment areas, which describe operational processes necessary for asset management success. This maturity methodology is aligned with emerging guidance from the Institute of Asset Management (IAM), ISO 55001 standards, and requirements of the US FAST Act.
The assessment used a six-point scale, scoring Amtrak at the Establishing level, indicative of an agency that is actively developing asset management capabilities and establishing them to be consistent, repeatable, and well-defined.
Based on the 2016 assessment results, key challenges were identified and a series of improvement recommendations were developed and integrated into an Asset Management Improvement Roadmap.
In addition, Amtrak established a target position, driving process implementation priorities, with the intention of continuous monitoring by repeating the capabilities assessment process on an annual basis.
2016 Amtrak Asset Management Capabilities Assessment Results
Source: Amtrak Engineering 2019
The Basic TAMP
A TAMP describes an agency’s goals and objectives for maintaining its assets over time. It describes an agency’s most critical assets, and their current condition. It also describes the agency’s strategy for preserving its assets, predict future conditions given the agency’s planned investments, formulate and deliver an investment plan, and discuss how the agency manages risks to its assets.
This section discusses the requirements for a TAMP that is consistent with TAM leading practice. A TAMP includes:
- TAM Policies, Goals and Objectives
- Asset Inventory and Condition
- Life Cycle Planning Approach
- Predicted Asset Conditions
- Investment Plan
- Risk Management
Note there are additional specific requirements for a TAMP that is prepared to comply with Federal requirements. State DOTs are required to prepare a TAMP with a 10-year horizon that includes, at a minimum, NHS pavements and bridges. Transit agencies that receive Federal funds are required to prepare a TAMP with a four-year horizon that includes their revenue vehicles, facilities, infrastructure, and equipment (including service vehicles). FHWA provides a checklist of elements of TAMPs compliant with Federal requirements: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/guidance/certification.pdf. A similar FTA document is available at: https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations-and-guidance/asset-management/55371/compliancechecklistfy2018_0.pdf.
TAM Policies, Goals and Objectives
A TAMP summarizes an agency’s policies, goals, and objectives and describes how its approach to TAM helps support these. For instance, the document might discuss how maintaining assets in good repair supports the organization's broader goals for strengthening mobility and supporting economic development. It may also describe how the organization defines the desired state of repair of its assets, or criteria for evaluating whether or not an asset is in good repair. A clear linkage between TAM objectives and the achievement of wider agency goals should be directly illustrated within the TAMP.
Asset Inventory and Condition
In preparing the TAMP, the agency must decide which asset classes to include in the document, and the level of detail in which the assets are described. For a highway plan, critical assets include pavements and bridges. A TAMP that is prepared to comply with Federal requirements must include these assets on the National Highway System at a minimum. Other assets addressed in a highway TAMP may include, but are not limited to: drainage assets such as culverts; traffic and safety assets such as signs, signals, and lighting; maintenance facilities; and Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) devices. For a transit plan, critical assets include revenue vehicles, facilities, infrastructure (for agencies that operate fixed guideway) and additional equipment, such as service vehicles.
A TAMP should provide a listing, typically in summary form, of the assets the agency has identified for inclusion. For each asset class the document should describe the physical extent of the asset, and current asset conditions. Chapter 3 of this document describes approaches for measuring asset condition and performance. Note that FHWA and FTA have developed specific requirements for reporting asset conditions for highway and transit assets, respectively. However, agencies are not limited to these measures, and may include multiple measures of condition in their TAMP to help provide a complete description of asset conditions.
Often it is helpful to place the data on an agency’s asset portfolio's current condition into some context. For instance, the TAMP may include photographs of representative asset condition to help illustrate what is meant by a given value for a performance measure. Also, a TAMP may include historic data on asset conditions to help illustrate condition trends.
Life Cycle Planning Approach
A critical component of a TAMP is a discussion of how an agency maintains its assets over their life cycle. Ideally the agency’s approach to life cycle planning should help maintain assets at a target level of service over their life cycle in the most efficient manner possible, while supporting agency goals and objectives. This section of the TAMP should describe the treatments the agency typically performs on its assets, and detail the analytical approaches it uses to assess investment needs, prioritize work, and predict future asset conditions. If the agency has implemented specific management systems for one or more of its asset classes, such as pavement, bridge or enterprise asset management systems, this section should describe those systems and how they are used to support decision making. Chapter 4 of this document provides further detail on life cycle planning.
Predicted Asset Condition
This section of the TAMP should describe how an agency’s assets are predicted to perform in the future. The horizon of the predictions should be commensurate with the horizon in the investment plan described in the next section. Typically the planning horizon is at least four years, but may be up to 20 years.
This sections should show what conditions are predicted given expected funding, as well as any gaps between predicted performance and the agency’s goals for its assets. This section may include results for multiple funding scenarios, particularly if there is uncertainty concerning future funding, or if including results for multiple scenarios helps document the process used to prioritize funding. For instance, the document might show predicted asset conditions over time given the current funding level, predicted future funding, and scenarios with more or less funding than the predicted level.
The TAMP should detail planned investments given expected funding. Depending upon the agency size and assets included in the plan, the document might include specific investments the agency plans to make or projected funding levels by asset class and type of work. This section may provide additional details on sources of funding, and the agency’s specific strategy for investing in its assets considering available resources.
Managing transportation assets also entails managing risk. Considering risk is important in developing a TAMP, for the simple reason that there are various risks that, if they occur, may impact an agency’s ability to follow its TAMP. For instance, the occurrence of a natural hazard may require an agency to spend significant resources in response, to address or mitigate damage. Employing risk management strengthens asset management programs by explicitly recognizing that any objective faces uncertainty, and identifying strategies to reduce that uncertainty and its effects. This section of the TAMP should describe the agency’s approach to risk management. It should identify major TAM-related risks and describe the agency’s approach to addressing these.
To ensure alignment with the requirements of MAP-21, Colorado DOT developed a requirements checklist that provides a quick reference/summary of the legislation requirements. The checklist is based on FHWA guidance (Transportation Asset Management Plan Annual Consistency Determination Final Guidance) that was issued in February, 2018. Its content was provided to help DOTs ensure their TAMPs are compliant and consistent with statute and regulatory requirements.
Source: FHWA. Transportation Asset Management Plan Annual Consistency Determination Final Guidance. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/guidance/consistency.pdf
TAM organizational models help determine where to locate key TAM roles, the relationship between TAM and agency priorities, and how TAM is implemented throughout the agency. There is no one right way to locate and organize asset management within an agency. TAM is cross-cutting by nature and requires coordinated actions across planning, programming, scoping, design, construction, maintenance and operations functions.
Identifying a Home for Asset Management
There are many choices to consider when identifying a "home" for asset management. Asset management committees can be used to achieve coordination across units, regardless of where the TAM home is located, in order to enhance the asset management culture across the organization. Some agencies choose to focus TAM activities within a single business unit and use committees and other management structures to achieve the needed coordination. Others appoint a TAM lead individual to play a coordination role with staff support and resources drawn from multiple units across the agency.
As agencies gain experience with TAM, the organizational model may evolve. At early stages of maturity, an agency may not have any organizational unit or function that is performing TAM activities. In developmental stages of TAM, an agency may create a TAM unit to signal its importance, formalize processes and integrate TAM business practices across the organization. Eventually, as TAM practice is well-established, there may no longer be a need for a TAM unit, because TAM becomes the way the agency does business. Many international agencies with mature TAM practices do not have a TAM unit.
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
In 2015, the Caltrans Director created a TAM lead in the agency, recognizing the importance of TAM and the necessity of having a TAM lead who is responsible for implementing TAM and meeting federal and state TAM-related requirements. The TAM lead reports directly to the Caltrans Chief Deputy Director. The TAM lead started without any staff, but the unit has grown to house over ten people. The TAM lead is a veteran of the department and is able to advance the TAM program by getting leadership commitment at the executive level and having the business units throughout the department contribute to needed activities.
Executive Office Model
At Caltrans, the TAM group is in the executive office because of a desire to elevate the importance of asset management. The TAM group has more than 10 people in it who manage the TAMP development, and are also responsible for resource allocation for the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP). The SHOPP is a ~$4B annual program for major projects on the California State Highway System (SHS).
Planning Office Model
At Michigan DOT, the asset management function is distributed across the agency, but the TAM lead is in the planning bureau. Locating the TAM lead within planning provides a strong link to strategic investment planning and decision-making.
Engineering Office Models
The Connecticut DOT TAM unit resides in the Bureau of Engineering and Construction and reports directly to the Office of the Chief Engineer. The TAM Unit works with asset stewards, designated for each asset, to coordinate TAM activities across the Department.
Maintenance and Operations Office Model
At the Nevada DOT, the Maintenance and Asset Management Division leads the development of the agency’s Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP). The division supports district activities to ensure that the state-maintained highway system is maintained in a condition consistent with the Nevada DOT TAMP, work plans, policies, program objectives, budget, and available resources. It also supports a proactive preservation focus in maintenance that extends to the 10-year investment strategies outlined in the TAMP.
Aligning the TAM Organizational Model with Agency Priorities
The choice of a TAM organization model should align with and support agency policies and priorities. Agencies that have priorities focused on activities that are located in the planning unit (such as economic development, increasing funding, or sustainability) may choose to house TAM in planning. A greater focus on safety and rebuilding infrastructure may lead to locating TAM in engineering. Agencies that prioritize preservation and operations may choose maintenance and operations for the TAM location. Figure 3.2 Organizational Models describes how the home for TAM would work in different parts of the agency.
Figure 3.2 TAM Organizational Models
Considerations in making the choice on the home for TAM.
Integrating All Planning
Centralized vs. Decentralized Models
A second important choice in creating a TAM organizational model is deciding on the degree to which asset management responsibilities are centralized versus dispersed across the agency.
Model 1. Single TAM Unit
In this model, a central office TAM unit plays a strong role in making decisions and driving TAM actions. Influence is concentrated at a single point, which has advantages, but results in less distributed ownership across the agency.
Model 2. Strong but Distributed Central Office Role
In this model, the central office plays a strong function in investment decisions, but there is no single designated TAM unit. Roles and responsibilities are distributed across multiple central office units and are supported by a central office TAM function that is tied to the investment planning role and may not have a title with TAM in it.
Model 3. Central Office Coordination with Strong Field Office Role
In this model, the central office plays a coordinating role but investment decisions are primarily made by field offices. This approach fosters strong ownership and decision-making that is close to the customer. Establishment of clear guidance and standards at the central office helps to avoid inconsistencies across offices, ensures that a statewide view of asset information can be created, and takes advantage of opportunities to gain efficiencies through the standardization of tools and processes. Field units may take on varying levels of ownership for TAM with respect to data collection, condition and performance monitoring, and work prioritization. The advantage of this model is the stronger link between TAM policies, goals, and objectives and work that is implemented. The disadvantage is the lack of consistent application of TAM across the agency and the greater likelihood that non-TAM priorities are implemented.
The TAM unit at UDOT is located in the technology and innovation branch of the agency. This unit is responsible for meeting all TAM-related state and federal requirements and more importantly for advancing TAM and performance management (PM) at the agency. Utah has a strong centralized governance approach to its management so a centralized TAM unit with emphasis on information and innovation works well for advancing TAM.
The TAM unit at ODOT is in the central office under the planning unit but the implementation of TAM resides in ODOT’s field units called divisions. Most decisions on asset investments and actions occur at the division-level. The central office provides data and guidance to divisions, but decision-making on assets occurs within each division. With the MAP-21/FAST requirements and the need to deliver on the two and four year pavement and bridge targets, ODOT is considering ways to strengthen the central office and division coordination.
New York State DOT
At NYSDOT, Asset Management is coordinated under the Director of Maintenance Program Planning who reports to the Assistant Commissioner for Operations and Asset Management. NYSDOT uses a committee structure, described in their TAMP, to define TAM roles and responsibilities. It has three tiers of related teams: first are the field teams who take action on assets; the next tier are statewide teams located in headquarters that provide a statewide functional team, and the top tier is a comprehensive program team that provides policy and monitoring. A diagram of this is provided in section 3.2.1.
This section provides information on creating a TAM unit and describes the most common roles needed for a successful TAM program. It also describes TAM related activities within an agency that may require additional coordination. Examples of TAM roles and integrating TAM with other related agency functions are interspersed throughout the section.
Core TAM Roles
Understanding what roles and responsibilities are most important for the TAM program is key to getting an agency ready and aligned to achieve TAM-related goals. It is crucial to fill each TAM-related role with qualified people who possess the right competencies.
Three key roles provide the foundation for implementing TAM in an agency: a TAM champion, a TAM lead, and a lead for each priority asset class.
Having a TAM program champion leads to greater success in meeting TAM goals and objectives. The TAM champion advocates for TAM advancement and communicates its importance throughout the agency. TAM champions can come from various groups, but they are typically senior managers or executives. The TAM champion should be able to create a vision for how TAM will deliver a stronger agency in the future, communicate how TAM can benefit stakeholders, and gain acceptance from agency staff and stakeholders.
The TAM lead is the person who is the head of the TAM unit or, if there is no TAM unit, is the lead for coordinating various TAM program activities. People in this role are responsible for making sure agency staff and external partners are working together to advance TAM. The TAM lead should be a person who understands and can manage dependencies across activities and who can develop and maintain good working relationships. The TAM lead should be a constructive problem solver who can monitor the entire program, spot concerns, and listen to and consider alternative points of view when necessary.
An agency’s top management support is a key component of TAM success. One important role of the TAM lead is to keep executive management informed about and engaged in the TAM program. This requires regular and effective communication with executives about plans and achievements. Building executive support for and confidence in TAM activities helps to ensure continued resources and support for TAM activities. When the rest of the agency sees executives supporting the TAM program, they are more likely to assist with TAM needs.
Asset stewards (sometimes called “Asset Owners,” “Asset Managers” or simply “Asset Leads”) have lead responsibilities for managing a particular class of asset. This role can be assigned at the agency-wide level as well as at the field office level. An asset steward should be someone who understands the asset well, has the ability to communicate the asset’s needs and the consequences of underinvestment and is able to work with other asset stewards to develop agency-wide investment strategies.
When the Iowa DOT TAM program was established, agency leadership prioritized the creation of a world-class asset management program and decided to address TAM implementation as a top-level organizational change initiative. This leadership focus and support allowed Iowa DOT’s TAM team to have authority throughout the agency, address organizational improvement needs, and focus on sustainability by building TAM governance.
TAM-Related Functions: Planning, Programming, and Delivery
TAM is inherently an integrative function, so designation of individuals performing key roles within agency planning, programming and work delivery functions can clarify the key points of responsibility and foster cross-functional coordination.
Within each program, key actions include:
- Adopting and modifying policies and guidelines for how and when prioritization is done
- Developing prioritization methodologies
- Coordinating the execution of the process
- Gathering and compiling data
- Implementing, managing and updating information systems to support the process
- Performing analysis for individual projects
- Analyzing, reporting and communicating prioritization results
- Making final decisions about which projects will be advanced for funding
Maintenance and Operations
When work is being conducted in the field the following are important considerations for TAM program support:
- Understand TAM goals and objectives and how field actions impact end results.
- Understand the choices that were made during the programming process on asset treatments.
- Capture data on work accomplished to keep asset information accurate.
- Train field staff on the TAM program
Several steps are required to plan and execute data collection efforts – and then to process and store the data that are collected. Some agencies have established roles to provide standardization and coordination across data collection efforts. For each effort, key roles include:
- Analysis to provide a sound business case for data collection
- Research to identify the best method and approach to collecting the data
- Procurement – when contractors are used to collect data
- Data specification and design – that considers integration with existing agency data
- Hardware and software specification and acquisition for data storage and processing
- Guidance and oversight to ensure consistent and valid data
- Data quality assurance
- Data loading and validation
Development of a Long Range Plan
The long-range plan sets the framework for impactful asset investment decisions for the rest of the transportation development process. TAM implementation has a greater impact if TAM roles and responsibilities are clear in this step. It is also important to determine who will take the lead for the following:
- Long range plan policies and priorities related to TAM
- Consideration of tradeoffs across investment types (all program areas and across asset classes)
- Consideration of TAM investment distribution within asset classes (rebuild, rehab, preservation)
- Financial planning (funding outlook across investment types)
Allocation of resources across program categories is a critical decision that both enables and constrains what can be accomplished. Where programs are defined based on funding sources or where allocations are based on formulas, there is little or no flexibility. However, where there is flexibility, it is important to establish TAM roles for technical analysis of investment versus performance tradeoffs, as well as for orchestration and facilitation of tradeoff decision making based on the results of this analysis.
Development of the TAMP
TAMP development is a multi-step process that involves agency stakeholders. Clearly articulating process, roles, and lead responsibility for the document yields the best product and makes it easier to implement the TAMP. Table 3.1 illustrates how to provide the link between roles and the key components of a federally-compliant TAMP development process.
Table 3.1 illustrates a way to provide the link between some typical TAM roles and the key components of a federally-compliant TAMP development process.
Table 3.1 - Links to the TAMP Development Process
|TAMP Component||Example TAM Roles and Responsibilities|
|Asset Inventory and Condition||Data Collection: State NHS (asset owners); Local NHS (bridges: state bridge unit, pavements: individual local agency data collection units)
Data Management: State DOT planning unit collects all data from the various data collection leads
Reporting and Visualization: TAMP development team
|Asset Condition Forecasts||State System
Bridges: State bridge management unit runs bridge management system (BMS)
Pavements: State pavement management unit runs pavement management system (PMS)
Other Assets: No management systems exist for the other assets so each asset owner uses ages to forecast asset condition in the future
Bridges: State bridge management unit runs bridge management system (BMS) and provides forecasts for the entire NHS
Pavements: State pavement management unit uses the data collected from local agencies runs pavement management system (PMS) and provides forecasts for the entire NHS
|Financial Planning||State Funding Forecast: State Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
State Funding Uses: TAM unit works with CFO, programming unit, and asset owners to determine uses
Non-State NHS: TAM unit works with MPOs and local agencies to determine both funding forecasts and uses of funding
|Life Cycle Planning and Management||State Assets: TAM unit takes the lead in developing agency wide asset life cycle management policies. Each asset owner uses the agency wide policies and works with the field units to determine asset specific policies.
Non-State NHS Assets: Local agencies are invited to a workshop to provide input on life cycle planning and management policies impacting their system. This input is used for development of non-state owned NHS policies.
|Risk Management||The TAM unit organizes a workshop to develop and refine the risk register and to develop risk mitigation actions.
State Assets: Information is used during the programming process to determine funding for risk mitigation actions.
Non-state Assets: For non-state NHS bridge and pavement assets, MPOs and local agencies are invited to the risk workshop to participate in the development of the risk register and mitigation actions. Specific funded initiatives are reported by the MPOs and local agencies to the TAM unit for inclusion in the TAMP.
|Investment Strategies||The TAM unit works with individual asset owners and field units to prioritize investments for TAM improvements, and to meet TAM targets and forecasts.
MPOs work with local agencies to develop investment strategies to advance NHS pavement and bridge performance.
|Process Improvements||The TAM unit uses a workshop to bring together all stakeholders to develop and prioritize TAM improvement initiatives.|
WYDOT is increasing the use of performance-based project selection in order to optimize funding expenditures and meet their performance targets. This process helps guide resource allocation decisions in a constrained funding environment. WYDOT adopted a robust computerized system that moved the agency from project selection predominantly based on emphasizing current condition to project selection based on optimizing future estimated condition. Program managers for each asset type are responsible for maintaining their individual management systems in order to make performance forecasts within their program areas. The TAM lead works with the program managers to get the guidance to the districts. The TAM lead has been working with districts to build confidence in the management system outputs and the decision-process. This improvement has yielded WYDOT’s ability to deliver the targets that they project.
The following additional roles are important to support TAM in an agency:
- Asset Data Stewards: ensure all data related to a specific asset class is accurate and aligned with other pieces of data; this is not the same as asset steward/owner.
- Asset Management Software System Owners: manage/own specific software systems, bridge/ pavement management system; the owner is the software owner.
- Asset Management Software System Architects: look at the connectivity of information across systems and across outputs.
- Analysts (data, economics, financial): take data, then apply statistical, economic or financial analysis to provide guidance using that information.
- Maintenance and Operations Managers: are out in a district or field office managing the day-to-day asset activities.
- IT and Data Specialists: usually reside in the Data/IT unit; ensure that overall information and tools support for asset management work.
The following disciplines are key components of a TAM program:
- Engineers: apply understanding of specific asset types, how the condition and role of assets influence treatment choices, and model how investments influence future performance.
- Planners: in the planning or other units; consider long-term planning/policy-making for assets as it relates to programming and the connectivity of information throughout the cycle of activities.
- Economists: look at economic tradeoffs of various scenarios on actions taken for a specific asset.
Table 3.2 - Agency roles list and location
|Executive||Planning||Engineering||Maintenance & Operations|
|Asset Data Steward|
The Virginia DOT maintains most of the assets on state roads. For pavements and bridges, there are asset leads at both the central office and in the districts. Asset leads at the central office manage data collection and analysis and provide guidance on the work that is needed. The asset leads in the districts are responsible for implementing the work and recording completed work in the bridge and pavement management systems. The guidance on what work will be done varies by asset class. For overhead sign structures, both the district structure and traffic lead are involved with guidance from the central office traffic engineering division.
Building a Strong TAM Team
Matching TAM Roles to Skills
When TAM is first initiated, roles can be filled with available staff in a manner that takes advantage of available talents and personalities:
- TAM Lead: people-oriented and enthusiastic; able to manage conflict across business units.
- Resource Allocation Leads: analytical and proficient with complex software.
- Data Collection & Management: detail-oriented and accurate.
- Field Maintenance Management: task-oriented monitors.
- Prioritization Leads: comfortable with uncertainty (gray areas), and willing to make decisions.
Agencies have different skill needs and capabilities. Some agencies might possess skills ideal for one part of the TAM program, while it might be necessary to look outside the agency (outsource) for other skills. Outsourcing, addressed later on, can be pursued to address a vacancy for a highly qualified position, or to make up for the lack of a specific skillset in the agency.
Making the Case for TAM Positions
Building a case for TAM positions requires defining how the gaps in staffing will hold the agency back from achieving its objectives. If possible, describe the anticipated return on investment from the added staff. It can also be helpful to evaluate TAM efforts at peer agencies, to find out if they have a TAM unit, how many people are in it, and what roles and responsibilities they have. Find examples of agencies that successfully made the case for new staff positions and borrow from their approach.
A Forward-Looking Approach
Part of building a strong TAM team is seeking skills that will help to advance practices rather than sustain the status-quo. Advancements in technology are changing the way data are collected, processed and analyzed; and how work is planned and carried out. As automation increases, certain routine tasks become obsolete, while it becomes necessary to acquire new skills to take advantage of improvements. For example, with tools that produce more robust analysis, agencies will need less people who crunch the numbers but more people to interpret and communicate the results.
Typically, when an agency starts its TAM journey, data accuracy is an issue. When data is not accurate, people may lack the confidence necessary to use the data for making decisions. As data quality and availability improve, the TAM program develops a need for stronger data analytic skills.
As processes become more complex, new skills are needed to monitor and carry out checks and balances. TAM aims to cut across traditional silos, which gets complicated as more units and stakeholders get involved. Therefore, TAM units benefit from people who are comfortable dealing with complex processes. This is a capability that can be acquired through hiring or training.
The Utah DOT has a strategic initiative to build a learning organization. A key element of this is a learning portal that includes training components. The training components include role expectations, guidance on how to fulfill key responsibilities of the role, and certification information. They have implemented modules for first time supervisors, transportation technicians, stormwater management and advanced leadership with more being developed monthly.
Defining Life Cycle Management
Through life cycle management, agencies employ data on asset condition, treatment options, costs, deterioration rates, replacement cycles, and other factors to determine the most cost-effective, long-term strategies for managing assets throughout their lives.
All transportation infrastructure assets have a life cycle, which includes several stages from initial construction to removal or replacement (see figure 4.1). Life cycle management is an investment approach that considers maintenance, renewal, replacement, or repair options through an asset’s service life with the intent to maximize the benefit provided by the asset at the minimum practicable cost. It employs data on asset condition, treatment options, costs, deterioration rates, replacement cycles, and other factors to evaluate trade-offs between possible investment strategies and treatment timings. Effective life cycle management requires knowledge of the agency’s strategic priorities and an understanding of the performance criteria driving investment decisions, so the right management strategy can be identified and implemented for each asset class. Aligning asset management measures with agency priorities ensures the investments made to extend asset service life provide the maximum impact to the agency’s long-term goals.
Figure 4.1 illustrates a variety of interventions that occur over an asset life cycle. The larger circles represented in the figure are service life altering, and represent a capital investment in infrastructure. Capital investments provide significant life extension, and may alter or enhance the operational nature of the asset, e.g. expand capacity, without fully replacing the asset. Maintenance (reactive, interval based and routine) activities are required throughout the life cycle to ensure the asset achieves its service life. Preservation treatments restore condition or performance to achieve service life, and may extend service life as well, but do not significantly alter the operational nature of the asset. Some agencies may capitalize investment in these preservation activities; however, regardless of the timing and character of the selected interventions, all of them are part of the life cycle management process. More (lower cost) maintenance interventions can offset the number and cost of the larger (and more costly) interventions. Balancing the right intervention, at the right time, can greatly reduce the overall investment needed for infrastructure to be reliably available for providing service.
Life cycle management can be used at both network level and at project level. At network-level, life cycle management considers the needs of an entire asset class, as well as the available funding, to determine the most appropriate life-cycle strategies. For example, analysis can establish the optimal proportions of overall investment that should be allocated to different types of interventions over the network, to minimize investment to achieve performance targets or an average condition level. At a project level, life cycle management is commonly used to develop asset-specific strategies. Project level life cycle plans provide input into the network level life cycle plans. Large bridges or other distinct network components are often planned and managed in this manner.
Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) is an engineering-economics approach that can be used to quantify the differential costs of alternative design approaches. Network level life cycle management, while a more holistic process that manages every stage of an asset’s life, may employ LCCA or other forms of analysis to inform management decision-making. Figure 4.2 highlights some of the major differences between life cycle management and life cycle cost analysis. At the network level, LCCA can be used to understand how to best manage the network as it ages. At a project level, it is used to understand what are the most effective actions to be taken on the assets within the project scope at the time of project delivery. Both network level and project level analyses contain many aspects of engineering economic analysis, such as consideration of user benefits, user costs, and the time-value of money to identify alternatives that represent the lowest practicable life cycle cost over the analysis period to achieve the desired objectives.
Figure 4.2 Attributes of network level life cycle management and project level life cycle cost analysis
- High level.
- One asset class or subclass.
- Multiple locations.
- Looks at impacts of varied treatment timing.
- Considers future cost changes.
- Multiple asset classes.
- Single location.
- Treatment timing fixed for all options.
- Uses discount rate.
Source: Applied Pavement Technology, Inc. 2017
Decision Making Context
Life cycle management is driven by the need for owners to provide consistent service to those that use the transportation system with the resources available. Infrastructure decision making can take place at several levels within an organization, and in each case, considers different but often interrelated factors. These are illustrated in table 4.1.
Table 4.1 - TAM Decision-Making Contexts
Key Questions and Connections to Other Chapters
|Key Decisions||Setting goals and objectives.||Capital investment prioritization and scoping and Integration of maintenance and renewal strategies||Delivery of the capital program, routine maintenance, and highway-operations activities.|
|Decision Makers||Directors and managers who are asset stewards.||District and field mangers, supervisors, and staff.|
|Other Factors||Decisions and outcomes of these strategic questions help focus investment. They add value to overall performance of the transportation system by setting priorities, values, and help prioritization of investment at lower levels. Creating new assets and disposing of existing ones are strongly influenced by decisions and priorities defined at this level.|
Chapter 2 discusses these considerations in more detail, and the level of service section in this chapter discusses linking these strategic priorities
to decision-making at lower levels. Performance and target setting in Chapter 6 also discusses this linkage and how targets can be set to achieve these strategic goals.
|This Chapter focuses on these questions and on the analysis that informs their corresponding answers and decisions. Life cycle management and analysis focuses on the existing transportation system and evaluates how:||Delivering a program work, ranging from maintenance activities to capital improvements, requires a coordinated management of a large workforce. It requires processes that minimize input of resources to get the output required for desired system performance. Work management systems, efficiency
and improvement techniques and performance management focus on improving decisions at this level. These concepts are discussed in Chapter 5, 6 and 7.
Figure 4.3 Analysis of KYTC Future Costs Under Two Strategies
Source: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Transportation Asset Management Plan, 2018.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC)
In the early 2000s, KYTC found that the cost of hot-mix asphalt (HMA) was increasing faster than its budget to maintain pavement conditions. In response, KYTC evaluated the feasibility of strategies that relied heavily on preventive maintenance overlays such as thin HMA overlays (< 1 inch), chip seals, cape seals, and slurry seals. KYTC found that while the costs of these treatments were substantially less than a traditional HMA overlay, their service lives were only marginally shorter. As a result, the agency began increasing the use of these treatments on its secondary system. As part of developing its risk-based TAMP in 2018, KYTC evaluated life cycle strategies, as shown in Figure 4.3 Analysis of KYTC Future Costs Under Two Strategies that expanded the use of preventive maintenance overlays to its parkway and interstate pavements. The analysis results led the agency to select a life cycle management strategy that maximizes the use of preventive maintenance overlays on secondary roads and parkways and increases their use on interstate pavements over time. As shown in Figure 4.3, this new life cycle strategy achieved conditions over the 10-year TAMP analysis period that would have cost an additional $644 million if they had continued to rely on traditional 1- to 2-inch HMA overlays. By implementing these improved strategies, KYTC has significantly reduced the risk that the infrastructure will reach an unsustainable cost to maintain in the future.
Source: KYTC Transportation Asset Management Plan, 2018. http://www.tamptemplate.org/wp-content/uploads/tamps/048_kentuckytc.pdf
Life Cycle Management Approaches
Different types of assets require different management approaches to operate effectively and provide the expected level of service. This section introduces common management approaches used by transportation agencies to appropriately manage asset service life at both a network and asset level.
Virtually all transportation infrastructure assets are designed to have long service lives, lasting years or even decades. This means life cycle management must include long-term predictions that come with inherent uncertainty. Further complicating matters, the condition or performance of some assets may be difficult, expensive, or impossible to discern. This is most common with geotechnical assets or hidden elements on complex structures. Addressing this uncertainty requires integration with the agency’s risk management practices, and consultation with technical experts, such as hydraulics and geotechnical engineers. Risk management practices are discussed in more detail in Chapter 5. This section highlights how uncertainty should be considered when selecting a management strategy to maximize service life and address risk.
A condition-based management approach is the life cycle management approach that is the most commonly associated with asset management at U.S. transportation agencies. In condition-based management the condition of an asset is measured, and used to forecast and identify the onset of failure. Maintenance and preservation activities are identified to address the failure and restore or extend service life. While the objective of asset management is to support the reliable performance of the asset, the performance measures most commonly used for physical assets are condition-based. Agencies that are very advanced in their asset management practices may be able to apply the condition-based management approach to other aspects of asset performance.
Condition-based management relies on the collection and analysis of asset condition and defect data. This data is then used to understand the current state of individual assets and when aggregated is used to predict the future condition state of similar asset types. When linked with intervention data and condition threshold information, the future impact of potential actions can be assessed, all with the view of optimizing an asset’s service life cost-effectively. Accordingly, a condition-based management approach combines condition monitoring with performance predictions and knowledge of preventive or restorative actions, to establish a cost-effective life cycle plan. The condition-based management approach can be applied to simple and complex assets, groups of single assets or a whole network. In a network perspective, components could be individual assets such as pavement segments and bridges and at a project level, components could be elements of individual assets.
Overhead sign structures are critical to safe and effective highway performance since they support signs, cameras, sensors and other equipment in support of routine and emergency operations. These structures typically have long service lives, but failure risk exists if they are not maintained. Indiana DOT found that failure to their overhead sign structures could be effectively mitigated through routine, real time condition monitoring and condition forecasting for predicting failure. Therefore, the Indiana DOT uses a condition-based approach for maintaining its overhead sign structures.
Indiana DOT’s condition-based maintenance approach involves the steps listed below to ensure the overhead sign is installed corrected, material specifications are met, and the connection to the ground is secure:
- Professional engineers perform inspections
- An asset inspection report is developed
- The asset inspection reports are submitted to the districts
- The districts review the reports and prioritize work activities
- Work orders are developed to address the highest-priority needs
- In-house crews or local contractors perform the work
As a result of the DOT’s condition-based maintenance approach, the department realized an increase in the amount of collaboration between districts and an improvement in how overhead sign structure repairs and replacements are monitored and prioritized.
Source: FHWA (2019). Handbook for Including Ancillary Asses in Transportation Asset Management Programs (pending publication in 2019).
Interval-Based Management (Age Based)
Interval-based Management is most commonly applied to operations assets (striping, signs, guardrail), where just an inventory is maintained. Condition assessments may not be financially feasible or practical. Additionally, these assets are often related to compliance, meaning their condition state either meets a specific standard, or does not. With interval-based management, asset performance data or manufacturer’s suggested life estimates are used to establish a time interval representative of the service life beyond which the cost of asset failure outweighs the cost of replacement. The service life being the average life that all assets or components of a type are expected to last. Cyclically applied interventions can also be classed as interval-based management strategies, as there is a fixed period between a set of predefined actions that have to be taken. An interval-based approach is most commonly applied to manufactured assets with highly uniform performance levels. It is less applicable to assets constructed on site or long-lived complex assets where there is a greater level of uncertainty surrounding the expected life of the asset. Examples of the types of assets that are often maintained on an interval-based approach are signals, ITS equipment, and other mechanical and electrical related items.
Reactive management unlike condition or interval maintenance does not use forecasting to understand the likely timing of an intervention. Accordingly, reactive management excludes all or most actions to address asset condition or performance, until the asset reaches an unacceptable condition state. The condition state may be influenced by accumulated deterioration or a specific event, like a crash or intense storm. Reactive-management is commonly applied to low-value or less critical assets, redundant assets, or assets for which failure represents an acceptable risk. To create a reactive-based management strategy, minimum acceptable condition thresholds must be defined. Reactive management strategies often require an agency to have a mechanism to deliver required work within a specified time frame, to avoid unacceptable levels of risk. This may include properly staffed and equipped in-house maintenance forces or “stand-by” contracts, so work can be dispatched and delivered quickly. Examples of assets managed using a reactive-based approach include fences, brush, lighting, raised pavement markers, impact attenuators, and rockfall.
What is Resource Allocation?
In the context of TAM, resource allocation is the process of assigning scarce resources to investments in transportation assets. The assigned resources can be money, staff time, contractor capacity, equipment, or anything else that an organization requires for its assets. The investments can be capital projects, maintenance efforts, or other projects and activities that require the use of an organization’s resources through various delivery methods.
To the extent an organization is focused on preserving its existing transportation assets, ideally it will make investments consistent with the life cycle management approach for its assets as described in Chapter 4. However, organizations often lack the funding, staff, or other resources needed to achieve all of their goals and objectives, and must make hard decisions about how to divide resources while considering competing needs. If resources for existing assets are systematically constrained such that the life cycle management approach is simply not achievable, the resource allocation process may need to revise life cycle strategies or the overall life cycle management approach.
The approaches used for resource allocation vary. For instance, in considering how to allocate capital funding over multiple years, an organization may need to either prioritize projects or establish an overall budget for certain types of investment, depending on the specific context. In day-to-day allocation of operations and maintenance resources, the challenge is more tactical, as a manager assesses what staff, materials and equipment are immediately available, considers both internal forces and contract capacity, and puts these to the best possible use considering current conditions and challenges.
The output of the resource allocation process could be a specific assignment of resources or a plan for what capital projects to fund. In addition, the results of the resource allocation process may impact other plans and decisions related to TAM. To the extent the process involves allocating money, a financial plan may serve both as an input to the process (by specifying what funds are available) and an output of the process that details how funds will be spent. TAM financial planning is discussed further in Section 5.3.
Once an initial set of resource allocation decisions has been made, an organization may need to reconsider the best delivery option for planned work. Issues related to work planning and delivery are discussed further in Section 5.4.
All organizations practice resource allocation in some manner, whether formally or informally. By using a structured and repeatable approach for resource allocation, an organization improves its own resilience and ensures that it will continue to succeed even as new challenges arise and personnel changes over time. This chapter outlines an idealized approach to resource allocation an organization can use to help assess how it allocates resources, and how best to improve its process.
It also describes various processes closely related to resource allocation, such as risk management, financial planning and work planning and delivery.
TAM Financial Plan
A financial plan describes the sources of an organization’s funds and how funds will be used over time. Fundamentally, an organization prepares financial plans because it is good business practice and because doing so is required to comply with various state and federal requirements and accounting standards.
MPOs are required to prepare financial plans as part of LRTP and TIP development. DOTs also have to prepare financial plans for their NHS TAMPs. The federal requirements help guide practice in many agencies. However, there are often additional state-level requirements for financial planning and reporting that may impact the preparation of financial plans.
The financial plan prepared for an MPO LRTP requires system-level estimation of costs and revenue sources with reasonably expected availability to adequately operate and maintain the federal-aid highways included in the plan. LRTPs have a planning horizon of 20 years or more, but beyond the first 10 years of the plan the costs may be specified using aggregate cost ranges. MPOs, transit operators and states are required to work together to develop the financial plan. Requirements for LRTP financial plans are listed in 23 CFR 450.324 (f)(11).
The financial plan for a MPO TIP serves a similar purpose as for an LRTP: to show that funding is reasonably expected to be available for projects within the plan. Funds must be estimated by year for over a period of at least four years. A TIP financial plan does not need to include funding for other activities outside of the projects included, but should include some form of system-level estimation of costs of operating and maintaining federal-aid highways, as well as confirmation that sufficient funds are available for implementing, operating and maintaining the system. As in the case of LRTP financial plans, MPOs, transit operators and states are required to work together to develop the plan. Requirements for TIP financial plans are listed in 23 CFR 450.326 (j).
For SLRTP and STIPs, the elements of a financial plan are similar to those for LRTPs and TIPs, respectively. However, the financial plan for these documents is an optional element. SLRTP requirements are described in 23 CFR 450.216 and STIP requirements are described in 23 CFR 450.218.
Separate requirements specify the contents of a financial plan prepared for a State’s NHS TAMP. 23 CFR 515 specifies that a TAMP financial plan is a “long-term plan spanning 10 years or longer, presenting a State DOT’s estimates of projected available financial resources and predicted expenditures in major asset categories...”
Regulations further stipulate that the process for preparing a financial plan must include:
- Estimating the cost of expected future work to implement the investment strategies in the TAMP by fiscal year and work type
- Estimating funding levels that are expected to be reasonably available by fiscal year
- Identifying anticipated funding sources
- Estimating the value of the agency’s NHS pavement and bridge assets
- Estimating the needed investment on an annual basis to maintain asset value
In addition to preparing financial plans in the documents described above, state DOTs and other organizations typically prepare annual financial statements. The U.S. Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) establishes standards for state and local governments to use in following Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). These standards describe how governments should perform their accounting and prepare financial statements. A financial statement prepared based on GAAP describes an organization’s financial position for a given reporting period, such as a fiscal year, and typically does not include detailed projections of future funding and work. A financial statement prepared to comply with GASB standards and a financial plan prepared to support an LRTP, TIP or TAMP are meant to serve different purposes, but the same underlying concepts inform the development of all these products.
Financial statements and Federally-compliant NHS TAMPs both include calculations of asset value. Reporting asset value in a TAM financial plan helps communicate what assets an organization manages in a common unit applicable to all assets: dollars. Estimates of asset value in a TAM financial plan are typically based on asset replacement cost. The value of an asset may be depreciated on remaining asset life or current asset condition. Where a depreciated asset value is calculated the cost to maintain asset value is equal to annual depreciation. This can provide a useful benchmark for the minimum spending required to maintain an inventory of assets.
The asset value reported in a financial statement is prepared in compliance with GASB requirements, and is often prepared differently than that in a TAMP. For financial statements agencies typically apply straight-line depreciation to historic capital costs to estimate the current book value of their assets. The historic cost of constructing an asset is different from the cost to replace an asset in today’s dollars, and the annual depreciation calculated using this approach is different from the cost of actually maintaining asset condition. GASB requirements allow for addressing this issue using a “modified approach” for calculating asset value. This alternative approach involves calculating a cost to maintain assets using an organization’s management systems in lieu of calculating straight-line depreciation. Where this approach is used it provides a calculation of asset value that can be used in both a TAM financial plan and an organization’s GASB-compliant financial statement.
TAM Work Planning and Delivery
The approach used to deliver work can have a major impact on what investments an organization makes, the resources required to perform work, and work timing. Transportation agencies have many options for performing work, including using internal forces to perform work, and/or using a variety of different contracting approaches.
Typically, U.S. transportation agencies perform some or most of their maintenance work internally, and contract out a large portion – if not all – of their capital projects. The line between the types of work performed as maintenance and capital projects varies by organization and is often blurred. Agencies can often use maintenance forces in a flexible manner to perform a wide variety of activities, including preservation activities on pavements, bridges and other assets. However, in the near term, an organization’s maintenance resources – staff and equipment, in particular – are fixed. Consequently, the asset owner is challenged to optimize use of these resources to meet immediate needs, such as winter maintenance and incident response, while performing additional work to improve asset conditions wherever possible.
The ability to contract out maintenance work, such as through Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts, provides an agency with flexibility in meeting near-term needs. Other approaches for contracting out maintenance work include use of portfolio or program management contracts in which certain operations and maintenance responsibilities for some group of assets is delegated to a contractor over a specified period of time. Section 4.3.3 provides additional details on considerations involved in outsourcing asset maintenance.
Regarding contracting approaches for capital projects, in the U.S., most transportation agencies rely on Design-Bid-Build (DBB) model for delivering their capital programs. With this approach, the project owner designs a project (or contracts for a private sector firm to prepare a design) and solicits bids for project construction following completion of the design. This provides the project owner with control over the process, but can be time consuming and can result in cases where bids for project construction exceed the expected cost developed during design. In recent years, many transportation agencies in the U.S. and abroad have explored improved approaches to work planning and delivery to accelerate completion of needed work, leverage alternative financing approaches and transfer program and project risk.
All of these approaches are intended to reduce the time from initial conception of a project to its completion, and in many cases transfer risks associated with project completion from the public sector to the private sector. As these examples help illustrate, major trends in this area include:
- Group work together by geographic location or type of work to develop fewer, larger, and more easily contracted projects
- Use Design-Build (DB), Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain (DBFOM) and other contracting strategies, wherein a single contract is awarded to design and complete a project, as opposed to separate contracts for design and construction
- Encourage development of Alternative Technical Concepts (ATCs), wherein a contractor proposes an alternative approach to meeting a contract requirement in the bidding phase
- Select contractors earlier in program/project development through use of Construction Manager-General Contractor (CM-GC) arrangements, where a contractor is selected as Construction Manager while design is still underway
- Use IDIQ contracts and other flexible contracts to provide a more efficient mechanism for performing smaller projects
- Incorporate performance-based specifications, time-based incentives and other specifications in contracts to improve project outcomes
- Outsource operations and maintenance of an asset using program or portfolio management contracts.
Both in the U.S. and abroad there are many examples of public agencies making extensive use of alternative contracting strategies, such as Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) and performance-based contracts to speed project delivery and transfer risk.
While alternate strategies for work planning and delivery hold great promise, all of the approaches described here have advantages and disadvantages and carry their own risks. Use of alternative approaches can save taxpayers money and provide improvements more quickly than a traditional model. Success stories typically result from improving the efficiency of the process and incentivizing the use of better technology and methods, but there are also many cautionary examples in which these strategies have failed to achieve cost savings, time savings or risk transfers as desired. Asset owners should consult the separate body of research in this area (referenced at the end of this section) when exploring the use of alternative approaches and carefully weigh the expected return, advantages and disadvantages of whatever delivery approaches they consider.
Selecting and Using Performance Measures
This section discusses the importance of using performance data to make decisions. It highlights the role of performance measures and identifies how they are used to establish achievable performance targets. A more detailed discussion of Transportation Performance Management can be found in Chapter 2.
Performance Management Framework
As discussed in Chapter 2, transportation agencies have embraced the use of performance data to drive investment decisions. A performance-based management approach enables agencies to select and deliver the most effective set of projects for achieving strategic objectives, while also improving internal and external transparency and accountability.
A typical performance management framework includes:
- A clear idea of the agency’s strategic objectives.
- The use of performance measures to assess performance.
- Methods to evaluate and monitor performance results.
- The evaluation of factors with capacity to improve long-term performance.
- The allocation of funding to achieve agency objectives.
- Ongoing processes to monitor and report progress.
A fundamental component of the framework is the use of performance measures to evaluate system performance and the importance of establishing business processes to evaluate, monitor, and use the data to influence agency decisions. These are achieved by aligning decisions at all levels of the organization with the agency’s strategic objectives and ensuring that the right performance measures are being used to drive decisions. This alignment helps to ensure that resource allocation decisions and the day-to-day activities of agency personnel support the agency’s priorities and the interests of external stakeholders.
The existence of a regular, ongoing process to monitor and report results is critical to identifying and implementing improvements to system performance or to further the effectiveness of the performance management process. The continual monitoring and update of a performance management framework is reflected in Figure 6.1, which illustrates inputs to performance targets and how ongoing monitoring and adjustments are fed back into the framework to adjust future targets. The surveys conducted regularly to support a pavement, bridge or maintenance management system are examples of the types of performance monitoring activities fundamental to an effective performance management organization.
Agencies with a performance management framework in place have benefited from:
- Maintaining a clear and unified focus for making agency decisions based on agency priorities, public input and available resources.
- Using available funding more effectively to preserve or improve system performance while lowering life cycle costs.
- Allocating available resources based on analysis of past performance and expected conditions to address areas most in need of attention.
- Having the data to confidently defend funding requests or explain the impact of reduced budgets.
- Building a transparent and accountable organization by communicating the basis for making resource decisions.
- Meeting legislative requirements.
In 2001, during the development of a long-range transportation plan (LRTP), the Arizona DOT took a strategic approach to how investments should be made. Under the new approach, Arizona DOT established the following three investment categories:
- Preservation, including activities that preserve existing transportation infrastructure.
- Modernization, including improvements that upgrade the efficiency, functionality, and safety without adding capacity.
- Expansion, including improvements that add transportation capacity by adding new facilities or services.
To implement the new initiative, the Arizona DOT developed a report titled “Linking the Long-Range Transportation Plan and Construction Program” or” P2P Link” that applied financial constraints to the long-term vision. Through a collaborative process that involved a consultant, local and regional governments, and transit agencies, the Arizona DOT published an implementation plan for putting the P2P Link into practice. The resulting process includes scoring projects based on both a technical and policy score that are added together to determine a project’s ranking. The technical score is generated by the asset owner based on an analysis of the data while the policy score is determined based on each project’s contribution to LRTP goals and performance measures. The process helps to ensure that projects are ranked in accordance with the agency’s strategic objectives using only the most meaningful criteria in a transparent and defensible way.
Arizona DOT’s Link Between Strategic Objectives and Investment Decisions
Source: ADOT. 2014. Linking the Long-Range Plan and Construction Program P2P Link Methodologies & Implementation Plan.
Performance measures are used within a performance management framework to allocate resources and provide feedback on the effectiveness of the activities in achieving overall objectives. Performance measures are indicators used for evaluating strategies and tracking progress. A performance measure can be an indication of asset condition, such as a pavement condition rating, or an indication of an operational characteristic, such as the annual number of fatalities on a facility.
The most effective performance measures drive decisions that are important to the success of the program. For example, maintenance departments may use performance measures that track actual expenditures to planned expenditures to ensure that available funding is directed towards the highest-priority items, as shown in the Colorado DOT practice example.
It is also important that the measures drive the desired performance within an organization. For instance, a performance requirement that measures whether pavement or bridge designs are submitted on time might cause incomplete or incorrect submittals to meet a deadline, leading to an increase in construction modifications. A more effective measure might focus on a minimal number of design modifications during the construction phase of a project.
Effective performance measures should also primarily be outcome-based rather than output-based, meaning that they focus on the result or impact of an activity rather than the inputs that went into the activity. Several examples of outcome- and output-based measures are shown in the sidebar on Page 6-8. Outcome-based measures are generally preferred because they indicate the effect on the traveling public resulting from the actions taken, so they usually relate to user priorities such as the length of time for a road to be cleared after a snow event or the absence of litter and graffiti. They are developed based on a description of what an agency wants to achieve as a result of the actions undertaken. Outcome-based measures are commonly used for managing ancillary assets such as drainage assets and signs. For instance, the performance of drainage assets might be reported in terms of the percent of pipes/culverts greater than 50 percent filled or otherwise deficient and the performance of signs might be reported in terms of the percent of signs viewable at night.
Output-based measures, on the other hand, track the resources used to achieve the outcome, such as the number of hours of labor used or the number of light-bulbs changed in a month. While the data is important information for managing resources, it does not necessarily drive outcomes that would matter to the public. For instance, travelers on a highway are much more interested in knowing when the road will be cleared of snow than how much overtime went into the operation.
When possible, agencies should use performance measures that are leading measures rather than lagging measures to influence future decisions. A leading measure uses changes in performance to provide insights into potential changes that might influence a future decision one way or another. For example, knowledge that a ramp meter has exceeded the manufacturer’s suggested service life might drive a decision to replace that meter. Similarly, increases in equipment downtime might indicate risks due to an aging fleet are growing or that planned operational activities will not be performed as planned. A lagging measure, on the other hand, looks back on the results of past investment strategies after the decisions have been made. Because a lagging measure is recorded after the fact, there is a delay (lag) in the agency’s ability to adjust its practices and improve performance. Bridge and pavement condition measures are examples of lagging measures because the reported conditions reflect the impact of decisions made several years in the past. Lagging measures are commonly used to evaluate a program’s effectiveness or to verify that actual investments achieved projected results.
In transportation, an agency might have a lagging measure for tracking complaints responded to within a 48-hour window. The measure provides an indication of the public’s satisfaction with the road network and is easy to monitor and report. However, if an agency really wants to effect change, it might develop leading measures to track the percent of complaints not worked on within a two-hour window or the percent of complaints that can’t be resolved by the initial point of contact and must be passed to someone else. Focusing on these types of measures could drive agency decisions to ensure complaints are being worked on quickly and are being assigned to the right people. General characteristics of effective performance measures are presented in Table 6.1.
North Carolina DOT
The North Carolina DOT authorizes its divisions to determine how funding will be used for maintenance activities and uses performance data to assist with this activity. Each year, Division Engineers submit annual plans detailing what work will be accomplished; these plans are reviewed quarterly with the Chief Engineer to discuss actual versus planned work. Their accomplishments are also displayed in a dashboard for internal use, as shown in the following image. Public-facing dashboards are also available showing overall conditions and performance trends. The Division Engineers are also held accountable for their performance, since their planned and actual performance data are incorporated into their annual evaluations.
Source: Leading Management Practices in Determining Funding Levels for Maintenance and Preservation. Scan Team Report, NCHRP Project 20-68A, Scan 14-01, National Cooperative Highway Research Program, May 2016.
Use of Performance Measures
Performance measures are used to:
- Connect agency policies and objectives to investment decisions.
- Establish desired and targeted levels of service that consider past performance, current and future demand, stakeholder priorities, and anticipated funding.
- Align agency policies, investments, and day-to-day practices in a meaningful and easily understood manner.
- Prioritize investment needs.
- Monitor and report progress towards desired objectives to both internal and external stakeholders in a consistent, cost-effective, and transparent manner as illustrated in practice examples from the Washington State, North Carolina, and Virginia DOTs.
Table 6.1 - Desired Performance Measure Characteristics
|Measurable with available tools/data||May require no additional cost for data collection|
|Forecastable||Enables data-driven target setting based on future conditions|
|Clear to the public and lawmakers||Allows performance story-telling to customers and policymakers|
|Agency has influence over result||Measures agency activities rather than impact of external factors|
The Washington DOT uses its Maintenance Accountability Process (MAP) to comprehensively manage maintenance budgets and to communicate the impacts of policy and budget to both internal and external stakeholders. Field condition surveys are conducted annually to assess the condition of 14 assets on the highway system such as signs and signals, ITS assets, tunnels, and highway lighting. For each asset, a level of service target is established, based on expected funding levels and importance of the asset to the agency’s strategic objectives. The targeted and actual performance is summarized on a statewide basis and presented to the legislature, media, internal stakeholders, and other DOTs in a format similar to what is shown in the figure (https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/NR/rdonlyres/8EC689DF-9894-43A8-AA0F-92F49AC374F5/0/MAPservicelevelreport.pdf). In 2018, Washington State DOT achieved 77 percent of its highway maintenance targets. Targets that were not achieved are shown as red bullseyes and areas where the targets were exceeded include a checkmark with the bullseye. The results illustrate where additional investment is needed on a statewide basis and provides a basis for setting maintenance priorities during the year.
Targeted and Actual Performance Results Used to Set Maintenance Priorities
Source: WSDOT. 2017. Multimodal Asset Performance Report. Washington State DOT. https://wsdot.wa.gov/publications/fulltext/graynotebook/Multimodal/AssetPerformanceReport_2017.pdf
To support accountability, credibility, and transparency, the Washington State DOT publishes its quarterly performance report, referred to as The Gray Notebook. Each edition of the Gray Notebook presents updates on multimodal systems' and programs' key functions and analysis of performance in strategic goal areas based on information reported to the Performance Management and Strategic Management offices of the Transportation Safety and Systems Analysis Division. Washington State DOT also publishes its Gray Notebook Lite, which highlights key metrics referenced in the Gray Notebook in a format for quick reading. Examples from each of these documents are presented in the figures.
The Gray Notebook and the Gray Notebook Lite
Source: WSDOT. 2019. https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Accountability/GrayNotebook/
Performance dashboards are also a popular way to present progress, using color-coded indicators similar to those on the dash of an automobile. An example of the interactive dashboard available from the Virginia DOT is shown in the figure. The screen reports performance in seven areas (performance, safety, condition, finance, management, projects, and citizen survey results) and the needles indicate whether the performance is within targeted ranges. Hyperlinks are available in each area if a user wants to explore historical trends or explore performance objectives in more detail.
Virginia DOT's Performance Dashboard
Source: Virginia DOT. 2019. http://dashboard.virginiadot.org/
Future Directions in Performance Measures
As agencies advance the maturity of their practices and move towards investment decisions across assets and modes (as discussed in Chapter 5), there is increasing interest in the use of leading measures and asset performance measures other than asset condition.
Asset management plans document the processes and investment strategies developed by an agency to manage its infrastructure assets. These asset management plans support an agency’s performance-based planning and programming processes for making long-term investment decisions and feed shorter-term project and treatment selection activities. Together, these activities ensure the investment decisions of an agency are aligned with performance objectives and goals.
Examples of these types of measures include:
- Financial Measures – Internationally, financial performance measures have been used successfully to express whether the level of investment has been adequate to offset the rate of asset deterioration or depreciation. For example, the Queensland Department of Infrastructure and Planning uses an Asset Sustainability Ratio defined as the capital expenditure being made on asset renewals (e.g., improvements) divided by the depreciation expense (discussed further in Chapter 4). If the ratio is less than 100 percent, the level of investment is not adequately replacing the depreciation occurring each year. Queensland also uses an Asset Consumption Ratio comparing the current value of the depreciable assets to their replacement value in order to show the aged condition of the assets.
- Life Cycle Measures – A life cycle performance measure is a relatively new leading measure, promoting the selection of sound, long-term strategies best able to maximize performance at the lowest possible cost. There are several life cycle performance measures under consideration by the FHWA, including the Remaining Service Interval (RSI), which is being validated under a research project. The RSI is based on identifying a structured sequence of the type and timing of various repair and replacement actions needed to achieve a desired LOS over a long timeframe at the minimum practicable cost. The results of the RSI evaluation may be used to generate a Life Cycle Impact Factor, summarizing the difference in life cycle costs associated with the various strategies being considered.
- Sustainability Measures – With an increased focus on identifying long-term sustainable solutions to transportation system needs, agencies may seek to develop new sustainability performance measures in order to properly indicate the impact a proposed solution may have on environmental conditions. The use of a recycling measure for gauging the amount of recycled material used in road construction is an example of this type of measure, as are measures for monitoring carbon dioxide emissions.
North Carolina DOT
The North Carolina DOT has an interactive Organizational Performance Scorecard that provides an online indicator of the Department’s success at meeting targets in the following six core goal areas:
- Make Transportation Safer.
- Provide Great Customer Service.
- Deliver and Maintain Infrastructure Effectively and Efficiently.
- Improve Reliability and Connectivity of Transportation Systems.
- Promote Economic Growth Through Better Use of Infrastructure.
- Make NCDOT a Great Place to Work.
An example of how the information is shown; it presents the target for an overall infrastructure health index and the most recent results. As shown by the red “x” in the box on the far right, NCDOT is not currently meeting its target of a health index of 80 percent or more.
North Carolina DOT’s Organizational Performance Scorecard Website – Excerpt
Source: NCDOT. 2019.https://www.ncdot.gov/about-us/our-mission/Performance/Pages/default.aspx
Types of Performance-Based Data to Monitor
This section describes the types of information that should be collected and maintained to support performance-based decisions for physical assets. This section focuses on asset inventory and condition information for life cycle management, but recognizes that other operational performance characteristics may be important to determine whether an asset is fulfilling its intended function.
Differences in Performance and Condition
The terms ‘performance’ and ‘condition’ are often used interchangeably, although they have different meanings in a performance-based environment. The performance of an asset relates to its ‘ability to provide the required level of service to customers’ while condition is generally considered to mean the observed physical state of an asset, whether or not it impacts its performance. For example, a bridge with scour may continue to perform adequately in the short-term even though it may receive a low National Bridge Inventory (NBI) rating because of the deterioration.
An asset inventory provides information other than performance data important for estimating the amount of work needed, identifying the location of work in the field and determining characteristics capable of influencing the type of work to be performed. The LCM approach introduced in Chapter 4 can be used to help an agency determine what information is needed to support the management of each type of asset. The asset inventory requirements for those assets managed based on a specified interval for repair, such as pavement markings, is very different than those required for an asset managed using a condition-based approach, such as pavements or bridges. Regardless of how detailed the asset inventory is, it is important an agency establish processes to ensure data quality and keep the inventory current over time.
There are several basic data attributes essential to effectively managing transportation assets, including asset type, quantity and location. Additional information that is important is to differentiate between the types of work to be performed, which may also be added to the inventory, the type of material used to construct the asset, the last time work was performed and factors influencing the use of the asset (e.g. traffic levels, highway functional classification or climatic conditions).
As discussed in Chapter 7, managing asset inventory information using an integrated approach to data management helps promote consistency in asset data across an agency and provides access to help ensure the data is used by decision makers at all levels of the organization. An out-of-date inventory makes it difficult for an agency to estimate work quantities accurately for budgeting purposes.
Asset condition information is used to determine how assets are performing and how performance changes over time. The lack of condition information may lead to premature or unexpected failures with the potential to be very costly, negatively impacting system performance and increasing agency risks. Methods of collecting asset condition information are discussed further in Chapter 7. To ensure that condition information remains current, it is important that the information is updated on a regular basis.
There are several approaches for assessing asset conditions, each of which is influenced by the type of asset and the resources available to support the process. Typically, an assessment of asset condition involves a method of evaluating the presence of deficiencies and/or deterioration at the time of inspection. The results are used to assign a rating or LOS used to determine the need for maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement now or in the future. Asset condition ratings may also be used to establish rates of deterioration, allowing an agency to forecast future conditions for planning purposes.
Examples of commonly used types of asset condition ratings are listed below.
- A pavement condition index based on the type, amount and severity of distress present, which could be on a 0 to 100 scale, with 100 representing an excellent pavement.
- The National Bridge Inventory (NBI), which assigns a rating between 1 and 9 based on the deterioration present in each element (deck, superstructure, substructure and culvert).
- A LOS rating of A to F for maintenance assets, such as the percent blockage in a culvert or the percent of guardrail not functioning as intended.
Maintaining asset condition information is important for evaluating performance to determine whether improvements are needed to achieve the agency’s strategic objectives. The lack of current condition information, or a lack of confidence in the condition information, makes it difficult to present investment needs to stakeholders with any degree of confidence.
The results of condition surveys or inspections are used to evaluate the performance of each asset in terms generally understood by stakeholders, such as Good, Fair or Poor.
It is common for transportation agencies to report the percent of the network in Good or Fair condition or the percent of drivers traveling on roads in Good and Fair condition. Asset performance can also be reported in terms of a health index, such as the Remaining Service Life (RSL) used by some state DOTs to indicate the amount of serviceable life left in the asset. In the maintenance community, some state DOTs have developed a Maintenance Health Index or overall LOS grade to represent the performance of the entire Maintenance Division rather than report the grades of each category of assets separately.
Asset performance also influences overall system performance, as demonstrated by the impact on system reliability associated with unplanned road or bridge closures due to flooding or an on-going lack of maintenance. Performance data related to delay, unplanned closure frequency, GHG emissions, and crash locations may all be impacted by asset conditions and affect an agency’s ability to achieve its broader, strategic performance objectives such as system reliability, congestion reduction, environmental sustainability, and freight and economic vitality. For example, it is important to monitor performance characteristics such as travel time reliability to determine whether capital improvements are needed to add additional lanes or whether ITS assets could improve traffic flow during peak periods.
The Ohio DOT recognizes the importance of integrated management systems to support both life cycle and comprehensive work planning activities. One of the tools developed by the Ohio DOT is its Transportation Information Mapping System (TIMS), which enables planners, engineers and executives to access and manage key asset, safety and operational data in an integrated web-mapping portal (https://gis.dot.state.oh.us/tims). The portal is available to both internal and external stakeholders and allows users to access information about the transportation system, create maps or share information. The data integration efforts enabling TIMS are now underpinning all management system implementations.
Types of Funding and Resource Allocation Trends
This section describes several funding and resource allocation trends that are commonly used by the transportation industry.
Funding and Resource Allocation Trends
Historical trends related to the performance and condition of the highway system or the way investments have been made provide useful information for estimating future investment needs. These trends contain important insights into future needs and highlight the consequences associated with different tradeoffs in the various uses of funds. This information can be useful in developing the life cycle management and financial planning portions of a TAMP.
The FHWA introduces the importance of historical trends for the following reasons:
- Illustrating whether past expenditures were adequate or whether they need to increase
- Helping an agency shift from a budgeting process based on incremental growth in expenditures to a performance-based approach addressing need
- Building agency confidence in forecasting future investment needs and conditions
Types of funding and resource allocation trends commonly include:
- Revenue trends over time by funding source
- Funding allocations by program category over time
- Expenditures by asset and work category over time
- Expenditures by system (e.g., Interstate, non-Interstate NHS and non-NHS) over time
- Expenditures by district or region over time
Revenue Trends by Funding Source
A summary of revenue trends by funding source provides an agency with a foundation for projecting the amount of revenue available in future years to address asset needs. These trends help an agency understand whether revenues are increasing or decreasing, identify which revenue sources have significant amounts of variability or more consistent growth rates over time, and illustrate whether the agency is relying on unsustainable funding. The information is a vital foundation for forecasting future revenue levels for planning purposes and helping formulate the assumptions upon which future revenue forecasts are based.
An example of a revenue trend table is provided in Figure 6.3. The trends illustrate which revenue sources have increased or decreased over time and are thus important for making future revenue projections. The table also highlights how overall funding levels peaked between 2007 and 2009 largely due to state bonds in 2007, federal bonds in 2007 and 2009 and one-time ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funding in 2009. When these three funding sources ended, the available revenue reverted to 2005 levels. If the effects of inflation were taken into consideration, the agency could also show how the purchasing power of available funding has dropped in later years.
Figure 6.3 Example of Historical Revenue Trends by Funding Source
Source: NHI 136002 – Financial Planning for Transportation Asset Management. Participant Workbook.
Funding Allocations by Program Category
Transportation agencies typically track funding allocations and expenditures by program category, but the number of categories and the category descriptions may vary depending on the agency. In general, funding allocations are tracked separately for the highest-value assets and the performance of these assets are incorporated into the agency’s strategic goals. This may lead agencies to track investments made in pavements, bridges, maintenance, safety and other assets. Within each of these categories, agencies can project the level of funding expected and predict the conditions and performance expected for it. Past trends in funding allocations by category can help indicate whether expected funding will be adequate to achieve the stated objectives.
Expenditures by Asset and Work Category
Information on past expenditures by asset and work type, along with resulting conditions, provides insight into the amount of funds needed for these activities in future years or helps set expectations for conditions achievable in future years. Where there are differences in planned expenditures and needed expenditures, the agency may report the existing financial gap.
Expenditures by System
Expenditures by system also provide valuable information, laying the groundwork for predicting how future funding levels will impact the condition of the Interstate, non-Interstate NHS and non-NHS assets. The information by system also conveys the agency’s past priorities for system investment, with higher levels of investment in high-volume facilities being common.
Expenditures by District or Region
Trends showing expenditures by district or region may be used to identify geographical areas requiring more focus on a particular type of work or experiencing an accelerated rate of asset deterioration. Information provided at this level can also be used to identify differences in production rates with the potential to serve as the basis for improving future practices. For example, a district with an unusually high production rate for repairing guardrail end treatments could share its experiences with other districts to improve the overall productivity rate at the statewide level.
Overcoming Challenges Associated With Trend Analysis
It can be difficult to predict future trends based on historical data, especially when there is a significant amount of variability occurring. For example, the FHWA construction inflation trends shown in Figure 6.4 illustrate how variability can have a significant impact on historical trends. In this example, the FHWA National Highway Construction Cost Index has a compound annual growth rate of 1.16 percent between 2003 and 2014. However, between 2005 and 2008, significant inflation occurred. An agency preparing a construction estimate in 2006 would look very different than one developed in 2003 or 2013. To address this type of challenge, the agency can include any assumptions made, when preparing an estimate based on trends with significant variability. It could also conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand the consequences of the potential variability.
Figure 6.4 Actual and Compound Average Annual Construction Inflation Trends between 2003 and 2014
Source: FHWA. 2015. Managing Risks and Using Metrics in Transportation Asset Management Financial Plans.
Another challenge in using trends is the fact that past performance does not guarantee future results, especially if there have been changes in the condition impacting performance. For example, a bridge may have performed well for years, but changes in traffic volumes and weights could significantly increase the rate at which the bridge deteriorates. Similarly, the use of new bridge deck materials may last longer than the materials used previously. To address these challenges, an agency may find it beneficial to modify historical models to better reflect current and future conditions. Monitoring performance over time will allow the agency to develop new models specific to changes in traffic or materials.
A third challenge arises in trying to develop trends for expenditures in work activities when there are inconsistencies within the agency as to what treatments are included in each category. This typically occurs with work activities related to maintenance and preservation. For example, the categorization of a treatment may vary depending on whether the work was performed by inhouse forces or a contractor. Another example is when a preservation treatment is used as a stop-gap improvement on a project that needs more substantial repairs. Again, the actual performance of the stop-gap improvement could be much shorter than the application of that same treatment when used as a preservation improvement. The absence of standardized work categories or the use of stop-gap treatments consistently across the agency can make it difficult to show meaningful performance trends for these types of activities. As a result, it can be difficult to show the benefits associated with these treatments. The solution is to define treatments consistently throughout the agency and to ensure that the treatments are being used as expected.
Importance of Tracking Work Activities and Treatment Costs
This section describes the factors that should be considered for keeping a management system current.
Why It Is Important to Track Work Activities and Treatment Costs
Asset management systems, such as pavement and bridge management tools, rely on the availability of complete, up-to-date inventory information to serve as the basis for all system recommendations. At a minimum, the most recent work activity and completion date are necessary for establishing an asset’s age or the length of time since work was last performed. These factors are key to setting a maintenance service interval or predicting the need for future work. Treatment cost information is used to estimate the cost of recommended work activities, so realistic numbers are important for planning and budgeting.
The level of detail required to track work histories is largely dependent on the sophistication and maturity of the asset management program. It is important to have access to information indicating when the asset was installed or constructed, or when the most recent major work activities were performed. Additional information about maintenance activities performed to preserve or improve the asset is beneficial if it can be provided efficiently and incorporated into decisions about managing an asset over its life cycle.
An agency should incorporate completed work activities into a management system at least annually, at the end of each construction season. At a minimum, the asset management database should be updated to reflect any changes to the asset properties, such as a change from a concrete to an asphalt pavement, and the date when the change was made.
Including the cost of maintenance and rehabilitation activities in a computerized maintenance system provides a historical record of how treatment costs have changed over time. The information from the management system, as well as bid documents, can be used to establish unit costs for each type of work activity possibly recommended by the system. Unit prices for each work activity included in the system are needed.
For many transportation projects, improving the condition of the asset is only one part of the total cost of a project. There are many other costs to incorporate into the unit price when estimating the cost of a treatment recommendation, including the cost of pavement markings, guardrails and signs on a pavement project. If these costs are ignored, the cost of a project will be underestimated, and an agency may program more work than can be constructed over a given timeframe. Some agencies inflate treatment costs by a factor of 30 to 40 percent to ensure the costs associated with project design and the improvement of ancillary assets are considered in the unit cost for a given treatment. Using this approach, $0.30 to $0.40 is added to every dollar associated with the cost of the work itself. The inflated cost (e.g., $1.40) is stored in the management system as the unit cost for estimating treatment costs.
Different unit costs may also be established to reflect different costs in urban and rural areas, or in different geographic regions of a state. These differences improve the accuracy of asset budgeting activities by reflecting the realities agencies face due to work activities in highly congested areas, differences in the availability of contractors and the scarcity of materials in certain areas.
In addition to being used to estimate budget needs, treatment cost information serves many other purposes. For instance, the cost of a proposed project and its expected life can be used to determine a Return on Investment to help ensure that the most cost-effective projects are being selected. The information can also be used to compare the effectiveness of one treatment over another, or one life cycle strategy over another. Cost information has also been used to demonstrate the benefits to using proactive maintenance across a transportation network rather than reactive maintenance.
Montana, Tennessee, and Utah DOTs
Several state DOTs are employing the use of technology to track maintenance work activities as noted below.
When new assets are installed as part of a construction project for the Montana DOT, Construction personnel are required to provide Maintenance with the information needed for updating the asset inventory. Maintenance verifies the information provided by Construction before inputting it into the system.
The Tennessee DOT uses an automated data collection van to establish its asset inventory for approximately 20 assets. The inventory is entered into a maintenance management system at a summary level for each county and a “ghosting” technique is used to identify differences in the inventory from one year to the next year.
The Utah DOT extracts its asset inventory every two to three years from the LiDAR collected as part of the agency’s annual pavement condition surveys; however, the DOT is moving towards a continuous inventory updating process that would be the responsibility of Maintenance supervisors.
TAM Data and Systems
Often organizations maintain data on inventory, condition and needs for individual asset classes in separate, self-contained systems. However, increasingly it is necessary to integrate asset and related data distributed across multiple systems to support decision-making.
As discussed in Chapter 6, there are several different types of information needed for TAM decision making. These include:
- Asset inventory and design information including location, type, quantity, material, and design details. This also includes summary level information about the asset as a whole as well as information about individual asset components (e.g. different pavement layers or bridge elements). It may also include asset valuation information (calculated based on deteriorated replacement cost, historic cost, or fair market value).
- Asset condition and performance information including results of visual inspections, measured condition (such as roughness or cracking for pavements), and computed measures of performance (such as remaining service life or “deficient” status designation). This also includes aggregated network level measures (such as the percentage of pavement in good condition).
- Contextual information such as system or network characteristics, functional classification, highway geometric characteristics, traffic volumes, congestion and reliability, crash history, adjacent land uses, weather and features of the natural environment. This information is helpful for understanding factors that may impact the asset service requirements or goals, physical deterioration, funding eligibility, and/or project needs and constraints.
- Work information including date, cost and scopes of work proposed, scheduled and completed on assets – including installation, replacement/reconstruction, rehabilitation, preservation and maintenance. When projects include multiple assets, it is valuable to itemize the work performed by asset.
- Revenue and funding allocation information including historical and forecasted funds available for asset installation, replacement/reconstruction, rehabilitation, preservation and maintenance – by source; and historical allocations by asset category and work type.
- Analysis information including forecasted condition and needs under varying funding or program scenarios, treatment life or life extension results, or project prioritization ratings or rankings.
Agencies store and manage TAM-related data within several different information systems:
- Asset Management Systems (AMS) – this includes pavement management systems (PMS), bridge management systems (BMS), management systems for other specific asset classes (sign or signal management systems), and systems used to manage information for multiple asset classes. All of these systems are used to store inventory and inspection data, and track work performed on an inventory of assets. They also typically include contextual information needed for modeling and analysis, such as traffic, functional classification, number of lanes, and presence of a median. More advanced management systems may identify and forecast preservation and rehabilitation or replacement needs, and analyze funding scenarios. However, often agencies use multiple systems for this purpose, with separate systems for maintaining the asset inventory and predicting future conditions. Pavement and bridge management systems are typically used as the sources for federal Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) and National Bridge Inventory (NBI) reporting.
- Maintenance Management Systems (MMS) – used to plan and track routine maintenance activities. These systems typically store information about planned and completed maintenance activities and resources (labor, materials, equipment) consumed. MMS may include customer work requests, work orders, and maintenance level of service (LOS) information. Some MMS do not store any asset inventory data. In such cases, work is tracked by maintenance activity category and route section rather than specific asset. Note that there are many commercial Asset Management Systems that provide full functionality for asset inventory, inspection/condition assessment, work planning, and work tracking.
- Program and Project Management Systems (PPMS) – used to manage information about capital and major maintenance projects from initial planning and programming through completion. There may be separate systems for managing programming/funding information, preconstruction/design information and construction phase information. Some agencies integrate data from these various systems to obtain a single source of project information. Project information typically includes a mix of tabular data as well as unstructured data (for example, documents and images). Unstructured data may be managed within an engineering content management system separately from other data.
- Financial Management Systems (FMS) – used to manage and track revenues, expenditures, budgets, grants, payments, receipts, and other financial information. These systems are often supplemented with special purpose tools supporting budgeting, revenue forecasting and analysis.
- Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP) – incorporate features of financial systems as well as a wide variety of other modules for functions including human resources, payroll, purchasing, maintenance management, inventory management, equipment management, project programming, project financial management, and revenue forecasting.
- Highway Inventory Systems (HIS) – used to store and report administrative and physical characteristics of the roads and highways. Federal Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) requirements and the Model Minimum Inventory of Roadway Elements (MIRE) define standard road inventory elements; some DOTs maintain additional elements. HPMS elements include pavement type, pavement condition (roughness, cracking, rutting and faulting), and structure type. These systems may include Linear Referencing System (LRS) management capabilities or, may be integrated with a separate LRS management system. Per FHWA’s All Roads Network of Linear Referenced Data (ARNOLD) requirements, state DOTs must submit an LRS for all public roads to FHWA, linked to their HPMS data.
- Crash Data Systems (CDS) – used to store and report data about collisions and resulting injuries and fatalities; which when combined with traffic data and road inventory data provides information for identifying traffic and safety asset needs.
- Traffic Monitoring Systems (TMS) – used to store and report traffic data, required for federal reporting and used for a wide variety of purposes, including TAM processes for asset deterioration modeling, treatment selection and prioritization.
- Engineering Design Systems (EDS) – used to create design drawings or models including design details for different assets. As agencies adopt 3D object-based design modeling practices, there are opportunities to share information about assets between design models and other asset data systems used across the life cycle.
- Enterprise Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – used to manage spatial information, including asset location. Assets may be represented as point, linear or polygon features; location may be specified based on coordinates and/or based on a linear referencing system (LRS). Asset features maintained within GIS may be linked to asset information within other systems.
- Imagery Databases (ID) – used to store highway video imagery and mobile LiDAR data that can be used for manual or semi-automated extraction of asset inventory.
- Data Warehouses/Business Intelligence Systems (DW/BI) – used to integrate data from source systems for reporting and analysis. These may be tailored for TAM decision support.
- Other – there may be other specialized decision support tools that produce analysis results – for example, tools for life cycle cost analysis, cross-asset optimization, or project prioritization.
Table 7.1 provides an overview of different systems with the types of information they typically contain. Note that this may vary within each agency.
Table 7.1 - TAM Data and Systems Overview (example)
|Asset Inventory, Condition, and Performance||Contextual||Asset Work Information||Revenue and Funding Allocations||Analysis Results|
|Asset Management Systems|
|Maintenance Management Systems|
|Program and Project Management Systems|
|Road Inventory Systems/HPMS|
|Traffic Monitoring Systems|
|Engineering Design Systems|
|Enterprise GIS Databases|
Common components included in computer-based asset management information systems are shown in Figure 7.1. Network inventory, network definition (e.g., location), and asset condition information serve as the primary components in a database, which may or may not be external to the management system. Agency-configured models are used to predict changes in asset condition over time and to determine what treatments are appropriate as the assets age and deteriorate. These models may be developed and updated based on historical condition and cost data.
When developing a computer-based model, an objective (performance, condition, financial, risk) must be defined within the model for it to evaluate these criteria to develop and select optimal strategies. Metrics such as benefit-cost, risk, condition and treatment costs are often used.
A typical pavement management system performs some type of benefit/cost analysis that determines the performance benefits (typically in terms of improved condition) and the costs associated with each possible treatment timing application. By selecting the projects and treatments with the highest benefit/cost ratio, an agency can demonstrate that it is maximizing the return on its investment.
Bridge management systems more typically rely on optimization to perform a single-objective analysis, such as minimizing life cycle costs or maximizing condition, or a multi-objective optimization analysis that considers factors such as condition, life cycle cost, risk of failure, and mobility. Project- and/or network-level benefit/cost analyses are used in a bridge management system to explore all feasible treatment options over an analysis to determine the most cost-effective set of treatments with the highest benefits to the network.
Figure 7.2 shows an example of how the different systems listed in Table 7.1 might be integrated, adapted from the approach used by a U.S. state DOT.
Deciding What Data to Collect
Many organizations have recognized that data should be viewed as an asset. Before acquiring new data, it is important to establish a clear statement of how the data will be used and what value it is expected to provide.
Deciding what data to collect involves identifying information needs, estimating the full costs of obtaining and managing new data and keeping it up to date, and then determining whether the cost is justified. Just as agencies don’t have unlimited resources to repair and replace their assets, there are also limitations on resources for data collection and management.
A 2007 World Bank Study summarized three guiding principles for deciding what data to collect:
- Collect only the data you need;
- Collect data to the lowest level of detail sufficient to make appropriate decisions; and
- Collect data only when they are needed.
Chapter 6 can be used to help identify the information needed to track the state of the assets and investments to maintain and improve them. The basic questions one needs to answer to identify needed data are:
- What decisions do we need to make and what questions do we need to answer that require asset data? Typically, an organization needs to be able to answer questions including but not limited to its asset inventory, the conditions and performance of the inventory, and how resources are being spent on its assets. Also, an organization needs to determine what work is needed and how much that work will cost.
- What specific data items are required or desired? Next, one must identify the data required to meet the established information needs. There may be other data items that are not strictly required, but that may be useful if collected in conjunction with the required data. For instance, answering questions and making decisions regarding pavement an organization would typically want to have an inventory of existing pavement, details on paving materials used, and details on current conditions. Additional information on treatment history or substructure conditions might not be strictly required, but if available could enhance the decision-making process.
It is also important to incorporate standard data elements for location and asset identification into requirements, ensuring consistency with other asset data in the agency.
- What value will each data item provide? It is important to distinguish “nice to have” items from those that will clearly add significant value. The cost of collecting and maintaining a data element should be compared with the potential cost savings from improved decisions to be made based on the element. Cost savings may be due to asset life extension, improved safety, reduced travel time, or internal agency efficiencies. In addition, proxy measures for information value can be considered such as the number and type of anticipated users, and the number and type of agency business processes to be impacted.
- What level of detail is required in the data? Level of detail is an issue for all assets, but is particularly an issue for linear assets such as pavement, where one may decide to capture data at any level of detail. For instance, to comply with Federal reporting requirements for pavement condition a state must collect distress data at 1/10 mile intervals for one lane of a road (typically the outside line in the predominant direction). For other applications it may be necessary to collect data for additional lanes, or at some other interval.
- What level of accuracy is needed? The degree of accuracy in the data may have a significant impact on the data collection cost and required update frequency. Ultimately the degree of accuracy required in the data is a function of how the data are used. For instance, for estimating the clearances under the bridge for the purpose of performing a bridge inspection it may be sufficient to estimate the clearance at lowest point to the nearest inch using video imagery. However, more accurate data may be required when routing an oversize vehicle or planning work for a bridge or a roadway underneath it. If a high degree of accuracy is not required it may be feasible to use sampling strategies to estimate overall conditions from data collected on a subset of assets.
- How often should data be updated? Is the data collection a one-time effort, or will the data need to be updated over time? If data will need to be updated should the updates occur annually, over a period of multiple years, or as work is performed on an asset?
Table 7.2 below illustrates examples of data collection strategies that might address different information needs.
7.2 Example Data Collection Strategies
|Example Asset(s)||Type of Information||Example Decisions||Example Data Collection Strategies|
|Pavement Markings||Total asset quantity by type, district, and corridor or subnetwork||Budgeting for assets maintained cyclically||Estimation based on sampling
Full inventory every 3-5 years with interim updates based on new asset installation
|Roadside Signs||Inventory of individual assets – location and type||Work planning and scheduling for assets maintained cyclically|
|Full inventory every 3-5 years with interim updates based on new asset installation|
|Guardrail||Inventory + General Condition (e.g. pass/fail or good-fair-poor)||Work planning and scheduling for assets maintained based on condition||Inventory and condition assessment every 2-3 years
Inventory and continuous monitoring (e.g. from maintenance crews or automated detection)
|Bridges||Inventory + Detailed Condition||Treatment optimization for major, long life cycle assets||Inventory and condition assessment every 1-2 years + continuous monitoring (e.g. strain gages on bridges)|
Once a general approach has been established, more detailed planning for what data elements to collect is needed. Prior to selecting data elements, identify the intended users and uses for the data, keeping in mind that there may be several different uses for a given data set. Identify some specific scenarios describing people who will use the information, and then validate these scenarios by involving internal stakeholders.
One common pitfall in identifying information needs is failing to distinguish requirements for network level and project level data. While advances in data collection technology make it feasible to collect highly detailed and accurate information, it is not generally cost-effective to gather and maintain the level of information required for project design for an entire network of assets.
A second pitfall is failing to consider the ongoing costs of updating data. The data update cycle can have a dramatic impact on data maintenance costs. Update cycles should be based both on business needs for data currency and how frequently information is likely to change. For example, asset inventory data is relatively static, but condition data may change on a year-to-year basis.
A third common pitfall is taking an asset-by-asset approach rather than a systems approach in planning for both asset data collection as well as downstream management of asset information.
Even when there is a strong business case for data collection, it is sometimes necessary to prioritize what data are collected given budget and staffing constraints. Some agencies do this by establishing different “tiers” of assets. For example:
- Tier 1: Assets with high replacement values and substantial potential cost savings from life cycle management (such as pavements and bridges)
- Tier 2: Assets that must be inventoried and assessed to meet legal obligations (such as ADA ramps, stormwater management features)
- Tier 3: Assets with high to moderate likelihood and consequences of failure (such as traffic signals, unstable slopes, high mast lighting and sign structures)
- Tier 4: Other assets that would benefit from a managed approach to budgeting and work planning (such as roadside signs, pipes and drains)
While updating data can be expensive, various strategies are available for combining data collection activities to reduce the incremental cost of collecting additional data. For instance, one approach to collecting data on traffic signal systems is to update the data when personnel perform routine maintenance work. Also, in some cases data can be extracted from a video log captured as part of the pavement data collection process.
Given limited resources for data collection, it may be helpful to formally assess the return on investment from data collection or prioritize competing data collection initiatives. A formal assessment may be of particular value when considering whether the additional benefits from collecting additional data using a new approach justify the data collection cost. NCHRP Report 866 details the steps for calculating the return on investment (ROI) from asset management system and process improvements, including asset data collection initiatives.
- Tier 1: Assets with high replacement values and substantial potential cost savings from life cycle management (e.g. pavements and bridges)
- Tier 2: Assets that must be inventoried and assessed to meet legal obligations (e.g. ADA ramps, stormwater management features)
- Tier 3: Assets with high to moderate likelihood and consequences of failure (e.g. traffic signals, unstable slopes, high mast lighting, sign structures)
- Tier 4: Other assets that would benefit from a managed approach to budgeting and work planning (e.g roadside signs, pipes and drains)
How to Collect Data
As technology continues to advance there are more methods available for collecting data related to assets. It is important for agencies to understand the technology and options available for data collection. Depending on the asset-type or data needed, a different data collection approach may be preferable. This section provides information on making that decision.
There are many different approaches to collecting asset and related data. Often a mix of approaches is used, including visual inspection, semi-automated and automated approaches. The technologies for data collection are advancing rapidly, allowing for increased use of semi-automated and automated approaches for collecting more accurate data at a lower cost. Examples of recent innovations include:
- Improvements in machine vision that allow extracting some forms of asset inventory data from video or LiDAR.
- Use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV, also called drones) for allowing bridge inspectors to obtain video of hard-to-reach areas of a bridge.
- Improvements in non-destructive evaluation (NDE), allowing for greater use of techniques such as ground penetrating radar (GPR) for pavement and bridge decks and instrumenting bridges to monitor performance over time.
- Improvements in hand-held devices allowing for increased field use, reducing cost and time of manual data collection.
Several of these technologies provide opportunities to save money by collecting data for multiple assets within a single collection effort. Table 7.3 provides a summary of potential data collection approaches for common roadway asset classes.
Table 7.3 - Example Data Collection Approaches
|Asset Class||Data Collection Method||Data Collected||Notes|
|Pavement||Visual Inspection||Present Serviceability Index (PSI)||Often used in urban environments or for small networks where data collection using automated collection approaches is impractical – can be supplemented by UAVs|
|Pavement||Automated data collection vehicle with laser scanning system||roughness, cracking, nutting||Includes a range of 2D video and 3D laser-based systems. Many systems store video images and can capture additional measures, such as cross slope, gradient and curvature|
|Pavement||Light Detections and Ranging (LiDAR)/ Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS)||roughness, cracking, nutting||Provides a high resolution continuous pavement survey. Often inventory data for other assets can be extracted from the data set|
|Pavement||Falling weight deflectometer||strength/deflection|
|Pavement||Locked wheel tester/spin up tester||skid resistance|
|Pavement||Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)||layer thicknesses, detection of voids and crack depth|
|Pavement||Coring||layer thicknesses, detection of voids and crack depth|
|Pavement||Smart phones||potholes, roughness||Includes systems for reporting of potholes and measuring roughness through crowdsourcing|
|Structures and Bridge||Sensors||inventory, condition ratings||Strain and displacement gauges; wired or wireless,|
|Structures and Bridge||Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)||condition of non-bridge struc- tures (e.g. retaining walls)|
|Structures and Bridge||LiDAR||Vertical Clearance|
|Structures and Bridge||Visual||inventory, condition ratings||Can be supplemented using UAV and other technologies|
|Structures and Bridge||Acoustical (e.g., impact echo)||delamination, corrosion|
|Structures and Bridge||Infrared/ Thermal Imaging||delamination, corrosion|
|Structures and Bridge||GPR||concrete deck condition|
|Structures and Bridge||Half Cell Potential Test||concrete deck condition|
|Traffic Signs||Videolog||inventory, condition ratings||automated or semi-automated techniques available for classification|
|Traffic Signs||Mobile LiDAR||inventory, condition ratings|
|Traffic Signs||Field Inspection – mobile application||inventory, condition ratings|
Once data are collected, it is essential to put in place regular processes for updating the data. This can be accomplished through periodic data collection cycles, or through updating as part of asset project development and maintenance management processes.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) offer several advantages for asset data collection. They can fly into confined spaces such as entrances to sewers and culverts to collect data and images. They can collect high resolution images, thermal images and LiDAR. LiDAR can be used to produce three dimensional images that allow for accurate measurements. Thermal images can be used to detect subsurface concrete deterioration.
Michigan DOT analyzed the benefits of using UAVs for bridge inspection, and concluded that using a UAV for a deck inspection of a highway bridge reduces personnel costs from $4600 to $250. A traditional inspection would take a full day and require two inspectors, and two traffic control staff to close two lanes of traffic. The same inspection using a UAV takes 2 hours and would require only a pilot and a spotter. An additional savings of $14,600 in user delay cost was estimated based on delays associated with shutting down one lane of a four lane, two way highway bridge in a metropolitan area for a bridge inspection.
The Tennessee DOT uses an automated data collection van to collect pavement condition surveys each year in support of its pavement management system. In addition to the pavement sensors, the van also has high definition cameras and LIDAR sensors which scan the roadway and create a 3D model of the environment. As the surveys are conducted, inventory information for approximately 20 highway assets is extracted from photolog and LiDAR information. The inventory from the past data collection cycle is compared to the data collected during the current data collection cycle to determine any changes to asset inventory to keep the data up to date. Tennessee DOT summarizes this inventory data at the county level for planning and budgeting; however, they are currently working toward having the ability to report maintenance work at the asset level in the future.
Source: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Pending publication 2019. Handbook for Including Ancillary Assets in Transportation Asset Management Programs. FHWA-HIF-19-068. Federal Highway Administration, Washington D.C
Fundamental Concepts and Principles
Data governance and management practices are essential for achieving reliable, consistent, integrated and accessible data that is of value for decision-making. Several definitions, concepts and principles are important to understand before embarking on a data governance initiative.
Data governance and data management are interrelated but distinct practices.
Data management includes activities such as data quality management, data documentation, metadata management, security and access controls, data integration, and data archiving.
Data governance is a policy making and oversight function for data management. Implementing data governance involves forming and chartering decision making bodies, defining roles and responsibilities, establishing policies that set expectations for behavior, and setting up standard processes for things like approving data standards, resolving data issues, and acquiring new types of data. Data governance is generally implemented in a hierarchical fashion, with an executive body at the top, a data council or board in the middle, and several more focused groups oriented around specific systems, business processes, organizational units or functions.
Data stewardship is closely related to data management and governance. It refers to established responsibilities and accountabilities for managing data. In general parlance, a steward is someone who is entrusted with the responsibility for taking care of someone else’s property. Similarly, a data steward is someone who takes care of data on behalf of their agency. Different types of stewardship roles can be defined and formalized within an agency data governance policy. Data stewardship can be viewed as the way to operationalize data governance policies, processes and standards.
Data governance can be implemented to:
- Improve quality and consistency of data
- Ensure coordination across different business units
- Maximize efficiency in data collection and management processes
- Enable data integration and shared solutions to make the most of available IT resources
- Ensure there is a solid business case for new data collection
- Ensure that data will be maintained once it is collected
Agencies may be motivated to establish a formal data governance function as they try to move from a siloed approach to collecting and managing data to one that is more coordinated and centralized.
For example, implementing a reporting system that takes data from multiple sources within the agency creates the need for standardization, documentation, and agreed-upon update cycles. It is important to get agreement on standard data definitions, formats and code lists from different business units to achieve consistency. It is also important to clarify who is responsible for fixing errors and the process for error correction in the event that errors occur.
Data governance is a means to an end. It is important to clearly define and communicate why an agency needs to strengthen data governance: what is happening now that the agency may want to avoid (such as data duplication)? What is not happening now that the agency may want to achieve (such as standardized data)? The effort involved in putting data governance in place should not be underestimated, since it involves changes in how decisions are made and changes in behavior. A full scale agency data governance model can take years to mature. However, data governance can be rolled out incrementally to focus on short term objectives. It is a good idea to adopt a set of principles to provide the foundation for data governance policies and practices. The AASHTO Data Principles (see callout box) can be used as a model.
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) launched a statewide initiative to better manage and integrate agency data. This effort combines the resources, goals, and objectives of Florida’s Technology and Operation Divisions into the initiative known as ROADS, which stands for:
R—Reliable, accurate, authoritative, accessible data
O—Organized data that produces actionable information
A—Accurate governance-produced data
D—Data and technology integration
S—Shared agency data to perform cross-functional analysis
The agency has created processes, procedures, and guidelines so that all data (financial, safety, project, program, assets, etc.) are organized and accessible. Florida’s steering committee, known as RET (ROADS Executive Team), is led by the agency’s Chief of Transportation Technology and Civil Integrated Management Officer. The committee, which includes district secretaries, financial and planning executives, and operational directors, is charged with governance leadership and instituting processes that will change the culture of the agency by converting data to knowledge.
ROADS is being implemented incrementally, through a series of 6-month initiatives. One initiative related to asset management is to standardize inventory attributes for 120 different classes of infrastructure assets and the agency’s approximately 170 enterprise software applications. Part of this effort is to determine specific authoritative source data to include in a new data warehouse. The data warehouse will provide a single authoritative site for sharing the accurate data.
Through the ROADS initiatives, Florida DOT has created a strategic direction for data integration covering data stewards, division responsibilities, asset inventory, business system integration, and an implementation roadmap. By coordinating its efforts, the agency is able to maximize the value of its data while streamlining processes for data collection, management, and dissemination.
Florida DOT Enterprise Information Management
Source: Florida DOT. 2019
How To Guides
Develop a Risk Register
Prioritize Assets for TAM Advancement
Establish a TAM Steering Committee
Life Cycle Planning for Pavements