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ANALYTICAL TOOLS FOR ASSET MANAGEMENT SUMMARY NCHRP Project 20-57 was undertaken to provide new analytical tools to support asset management. The project's research objectives emphasized the need for tools that help agencies to make difficult tradeoff decisions for resource allocation while con- sidering asset preservation concerns and the broader set of policy objectives (e.g., mobility, safety, and economic development) that must be taken into account when making investments in transportation assets. Analytical tools already have proved to be of great value for developing asset preservation strategies, understanding life-cycle costs of different design options, and analyzing benefits and costs of alternatives at the project and program levels. However, additional tools are required that address gaps in existing capabilities and help agencies to make better decisions using the information available to them. This project involved two phases of activity. In the initial phase, the research team analyzed gaps in analytical tools to be addressed by the project and selected two tool concepts for development. In the second phase, the two tools were designed, proto- typed, tested, and refined. The Phase I gap analysis included the following activities: · Interviews with staff at 10 state DOTs to obtain a broad perspective on how exist- ing tools are being used and what kinds of new tools are needed. The interview findings are summarized in Section 2 of this report; Appendix A provides more details. · A review of existing analytical tools for asset management and documentation of their capabilities and limitations. The results of this review are presented in Sec- tion 3 of this report, and detailed tool summaries are provided in Appendix B. · An assessment of unmet needs for analytical tools, screening of candidate tool con- cepts, and selection of two tools for development. The gap analysis is summarized in Section 4 of this report. A key conclusion of the initial phase was that many existing analytical tools are not being used to their full potential to influence investment decision-making. This under- utilization is related to the capabilities of the tools themselves, the credibility of input
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2 data and models, and organizational factors. The most successful tool applications occurred when an organization had made a sustained, multiyear commitment to inte- grating use of the tool within its decision-making processes and supporting an inter- nal "champion" to improve the tool over time based on feedback from end-users and decision-makers. In determining which of the many gaps to address within the confines of this project, a major consideration was the need to produce a generic tool that would work within mul- tiple agencies; each of which has different business processes, data structures, and legacy systems. The differences across agencies were made very apparent in the interviews: there is no standardization of asset inventory, condition, and performance data (beyond the Highway Performance Monitoring System and National Bridge Inventory formats); there are very different degrees of acceptance of economic-based evaluation methods; and agencies are using existing asset management systems in very different ways. Given that existing tools are in place but underutilized and that there are significant variations across agencies, the research team recommended an approach that would build on the existing capabilities in an agency and encourage the agency to make bet- ter use of the tools already in place. The recommended approach was intended to pro- vide a concrete view of what asset management tradeoff analysis looks like, given that the inputs to this tradeoff analysis and even the underlying methods can and do vary across agencies. The two tools developed in the second phase of the project--AssetManager NT and AssetManager PT--support tradeoff analysis at the long-term network level and at the program level, respectively: · AssetManager NT works with 10- to 20-year simulation results from existing asset management systems and allows users to explore the consequences of dif- ferent levels of investment within and across asset classes. Companion "robot" tools also were developed to produce the inputs needed by AssetManager NT from FHWA's Highway Economic Requirements System for State Use tool and from the AASHTOWare Pontis bridge management system. The field testing process demonstrated the feasibility of producing the necessary inputs for AssetManager NT from commercial pavement management systems as well. · AssetManager PT works with sets of candidate projects being considered for implementation over a 1- to 3-year period and allows users to explore the conse- quences of different project mixes. A fully functional prototype was developed for this second tool. Detailed descriptions of these tools and documentation of the testing process are pro- vided in Sections 5 and 6 of this report. A companion CD bound with this report con- tains the appendices to this report, the tool software, and user guides. This report concludes with recommendations for continuing the work begun in Proj- ect 20-57. These recommendations include providing a continuing mechanism to sup- port users of AssetManager NT and PT, converting the working prototype of Asset- Manager PT to a full-scale version, enhancing the functionality of both tools over time, and providing additional implementation support resources. To provide a resource for development of future research agendas, the concluding section of this report also sum- marizes the gaps in analytical tools that were not addressed by this project.