3.2.2 External Coordination


External Coordination

In order to deliver transportation products and services to the public, State DOTs must coordinate with other agencies that own and operate transportation facilities. Users don’t distinguish who owns what part of the transportation network, so it is up to the agencies to work together and seamlessly deliver the best results to users.

External Entities

Many entities outside of a state DOT are part of the TAM advancement process. It is important to include external partners in TAM committees. For example, many agencies will have a FHWA member on the steering committee, or a governor’s representative on the strategy committee.

Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs)

MPOs carry out transportation planning processes and represent localities in urbanized areas. MPOs are mandated and funded by the federal government and help ensure that transportation planning in the region reflects the needs of the population. MPOs may be responsible for parts of the State’s NHS. It is a federal requirement to involve MPOs when planning or programming federal aid in metropolitan areas, so it is key to coordinate with these organizations when developing the TAMP.

Local Agencies

Local agencies include city and county agencies. These agencies have a stake in asset management initiatives as they often own various parts of the transportation network and have funding for transportation projects. They are also closely connected to the population in the region and thus have an understanding of the needed asset management-related investments.

Other State Agencies

Various aspects of asset management should include other state agencies. State environmental agencies can provide guidance on air quality and emissions. State information systems agencies can be important for obtaining tools or solutions on a TAM need. Statewide data management initiatives may also require close coordination between the state and the DOT.

Toll Authorities

Toll Authorities operate toll roads across the country to generate revenue for use in maintaining the road. Depending on the relationship between the DOT and the authority, the authorities may own the road, have data and information on the condition of the road, and information on the investment in maintenance over time. It is key to coordinate with the authority to obtain a complete picture of the assets in the state.

Other Modal Agencies

Other Modal Agencies include organizations that operate transportation modes that are not directly operated by the state DOT. These might include public transportation, airports, and marine-related functions. The DOT may have a financial relationship with these agencies for grant-related funding. The DOT will also work with these organizations to deliver the best trip for a traveler.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an informal agreement on coordination between agencies or other organizations. They are effective in clarifying roles and responsibilities between the two agencies and determining how decisions will impact business in the future. For example, informal data agreements often specify who is collecting what, how data is being provided, and what geographic network is included.

Legislative and Oversight Bodies

The governor, transportation commission, and state legislative bodies help determine the funding allocations for each state. It is good practice to coordinate with these entities to ensure they understand the importance of asset management and the need for continued DOT funding.
USDOT and its modal agencies such as FHWA, FTA, and FAA also play a role. The FHWA has state division offices that are the conduit through which states receive federal funding.

Cross-Agency Committees/Councils

Most states have a complex network of agencies that own pieces of the road network in the state. Having a committee or council focused on coordinating TAM policies, pooling resources for tools and methods, and sharing lessons learned can increase the efficient delivery of transportation to customers. This approach can work for geographic regions that cross state boundaries.

General Public

DOTs work with the general public during the planning, programming, and project delivery process. The general public represents the customer that the DOT is ultimately serving with its transportation products and services.

Michigan DOT

One way to coordinate and collaborate across external agencies is to establish a statewide council. Michigan’s Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) coordinates TAM at the statewide level. It consists of 10 voting members appointed by the state transportation commission. The transportation asset management council shall include two members from the County Road Association of Michigan, two members from the Michigan Municipal League, two members from the state planning and development regions, one member from the Michigan Townships Association, one member from the Michigan Association of Counties, and two members from the Michigan Department of Transportation. (https://www.michigan.gov/tamc).

In addition, Michigan formed the Michigan Infrastructure Council to: coordinate work beyond transportation assets such as water and communication assets; develop the statewide asset management database, and facilitate the data collection strategy for assets (https://www.michigan.gov/mic/).

Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement is another mechanism for coordination. External stakeholders can be partners the agency works with to deliver TAM benefits, and they can also be customers who use the transportation system. Keeping stakeholders informed and engaging them to understand TAM can lead to their support for funding initiatives and their understanding of tough decisions where services may be cut.

Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice (COP) can be used to coordinate with external stakeholders and partners. For example, these communities could be organized across the various asset owners within a region or state to achieve a comprehensive view of TAM. This is a good way to meet MAP-21 requirements and communicate a view of the NHS.

Public-Private Partnership (P3) Concessionaires are entities that are much more common in international settings. They are not used extensively in the US. When they are involved, it’s important that the performance measures that are being applied to them match the TAM policies and procedures.

New Zealand Transport Agency

Many non-United States organizations have integrated asset management not only within internal organization processes, but also in frameworks that integrate external expertise to assist in infrastructure management. The New Zealand Transport Agency clearly establishes the roles and responsibilities of agency stakeholders and documents the annual transportation planning processes and management practices it employs. This helps the agency manage and deliver the road network, add transparency, and allow resources (other levels of government, consultants, contractors, and other stakeholders including the public) to participate in the process. In this way, it integrates internal and external coordination between stakeholders in the asset management process.

Colorado DOT

The CDOT TAM and Performance Management unit works very closely with the Colorado Transportation Commission, which represents all of the geographic regions in Colorado. Each member of the commission is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. The commission meetings are open to the public so that all customers of the state’s transportation system are welcome to attend. This promotes participation and transparency between the DOT and its customers. The meeting agenda and materials are available on a website that CDOT manages (https://www.codot.gov/about/transportation-commission/). In the past, the Commission had a designated TAM subcommittee, but due to the priority of TAM, it is now an integral part of the full Commission’s regular business and no longer a subcommittee.