Advancing strategic focuses through performance-based evaluation – the growth of state dot approaches

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Sperling, Elliot Asher
Ross, Catherine L.
Guensler, Randall L.
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As a result of the enactment of the 2012 national surface transportation legislation, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), performance-based approaches have substantially grown in importance and use. States are examining their existing processes to ensure increases in transportation system performance over time. Certain states have developed internal processes that demonstrate use of a performance-based approach that effectively integrates both planning and programming decisions to meet agency-based objectives and national performance targets, and aligns with agency strategic goal areas. Through this research a national survey was developed and implemented to identify state transportation agency practices, which use multi-objective decision analysis (MODA) approaches to evaluate and prioritize strategic investments across asset categories. Agencies that are more advanced in project evaluation are able to quantify project values before they are funded to ensure that they are in alignment with an agency’s overall goals and, at the same time, demonstrate worthwhile investments to the taxpayers in an environment of fiscal constraint. Recent shifts towards more data-driven approaches in project evaluation are providing far more objectivity and certainty to project sponsors, and have led to more collaborative transportation processes for planning and programming. By linking state-based and national performance goals to evaluation methods, states will be better positioned to improve performance over time for their multi-modal transportation systems and better meet public expectations with the limited amount of resources and funding that are available. With growing uncertainties over future travel demands, the introduction of new technologies, and the phasing out of old technologies, strategic approaches will grow in importance.
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