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35 CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSIONS This synthesis summarizes current value engineering (VE) tion industry. The following topics emerged as areas of inter- practices in highway transportation agencies (STAs) in the est for future study. United States and Canada. It builds on the findings of NCHRP's initial look at VE in transportation (NCHRP Syn- Education thesis of Highway Practice 78) in 1989 and highlights the Transportation agencies have undertaken staff train- results of a comprehensive survey of STAs and an extensive ing, which ranges from selective training for a few literature search. employees to the large-scale training programs involv- ing hundreds of employees. Although this commitment Although there was considerable variation in the pro- to continual education is commendable, the lasting value grams and experiences of transportation agencies some com- of the initiatives comes into question over time. Many mon ground was noted. The following list presents some of of the agencies that invested in training programs did so the general conclusions reached for this report. several years ago as interest in VE heightened. How- ever, many agencies have reported that this investment The VE process and procedures are generally well- needs to be renewed, because trained staff have either defined and well-understood at most levels within an advanced, left, or retired from the organization. The STA, including senior management. VE is recognized challenge is finding the needed resources and interested as an effective way to improve the performance of a staff to make this investment worthwhile. project and/or reduce unnecessary capital and operating SAVE International developed its Module I and II costs. courses some time ago. The Module I course serves as The quality (qualifications and experience) of the team the genesis for most in-house programs. However, the leader and specialists is a key ingredient to the success context requirements and time commitments for the of the VE program. rudimentary courses have not been substantially updated VE is more effective and influential on the perfor- in more than a decade. These courses are the primary mance, quality, and cost of a project when done rela- building blocks of the certification process. Very little tively early in the project schedule. time is permitted within the context of these training The $25 million cost threshold trigger for federal-aid courses to introduce new or VE-compatible materials. projects serves as both motivation and as a limitation There exists the possibility that the value community for some STAs. Some modest-size STAs with projects will eventually deplete itself of current thinking and falling below the threshold rarely do VE, whereas some new innovative approaches. larger transportation agencies rarely consider VE on state-funded or lower-cost federal-aid projects. Survey responses indicate that consideration might A commonly defined and understood approach to mea- be given to developing new training initiatives for sure implementation benefits (improved performance STAs that provide basic level VE training. This and/or lower life-cycle costs) of VE studies and VE pro- could take the form of 1- or 2-day sessions, which gram success needs to be developed. can provide the formal lecture content equivalent Training is necessary to maintain VE programs and the to that found currently in the Module I workshop. corporate enthusiasm to allocate resources to VE. How- ever, training initiatives are typically influenced more Project Scope and Selection by the overall funding of transportation programs. Many transportation agencies are primarily applying VE can effectively be integrated with or into other tech- VE to federal-aid National Highway System projects nical or management improvement approaches, such as costing more than $25 million, as required by regula- asset management, road safety audits, context-sensitive tion. However, the benefits of VE have been clearly design, and accelerated construction technology team. demonstrated. Furthermore, the research and experience of other agencies suggests that VE can successfully be The detailed survey for this synthesis report provided applied to projects that cost less than $25 million or are insight into the current application of VE in the transporta- not on the National Highway System.

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36 Survey responses indicate that consideration could els or tables to generate the safety benefits associated be given to developing a framework to select non- with proposed geometric or operational changes. mandated projects for VE studies. Survey responses indicate that VE teams could Experience has shown that an STA can realize sub- include road safety and human factors specialists stantial benefits by undertaking VE studies as early as to provide real-time input into the VE studies. possible in the life cycle of the project, including stan- dards and specifications. Stakeholder involvement and Integrating VE with Context-Sensitive Design buy-in can be improved in their perspective if proac- The benefits of VE can be realized in the early planning tively considered during the early planning work. stages. An emerging area, context-sensitive design, which permits road designers to better integrate the road Survey responses indicate that consideration might into the community or the environment, can incorporate be given to developing a consistent project devel- the value methodology. Stakeholder communications opment process that integrates National Environ- and input can be managed using VE. mental Policy Act and VE processes. Developing a National VE Database for Transportation Measuring Program Performance Projects The mandated FHWA reporting protocol is intended to Transportation agencies across the country undertake hundreds of VE studies each year. These studies often meet FHWA's reporting needs. However, many agen- target similar issues and it is not unreasonable to expect cies have yet to develop their own reports to quantify that, collectively, the agencies might be paying for the the productivity of their programs. A tracking program same VE proposal over and over. A fully accessible data- could yield additional insight regarding preferred VE base could permit the transportation agencies to better approaches, serving as a central repository for data and focus its VE study resources by reviewing and adapting supporting a stronger appreciation for the program. the results of previously studied but similar issues from other areas of the country. VE teams would be able to Survey responses indicate that consideration could prioritize their time toward resolving new issues. Cre- be given to developing a VE program reporting ating such a database should be studied. template to provide program reporting informa- tion additional to that already generated for VE applications have evolved since NCHRP last FHWA. reviewed the process in 1981. Federal requirements have changed and now mandate VE on major federally Measuring Project Performance funded projects. More agencies are now experienced VE teams must be able to effectively communicate the with the decision-making tool and many have devel- full range of performance characteristics of the VE oped successful programs. However, the status quo will proposal to gain acceptance from the decision makers. diminish the results if left unchecked. Key areas to Quantification of these characteristics is beneficial, focus on include improving the training processes to because it permits a ready comparison of one or more maintain a knowledgeable workforce and expanding alternatives. the focus of agency VE programs to consider non-NHS projects. New approaches such as project performance Integrating Road Safety into VE Studies measures, enhanced evaluation methods, and building Road safety is typically considered implicitly during VE stronger linkages to other assessment tools, may serve studies. However, road safety can be explicitly consid- as new development targets for VE applications in ered as part of VE studies by using crash prediction mod- transportation.