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48 that they are an important component in view of the size of able factors), the decision to differentiate IHS asset manage- IHS facilities and the various adverse impacts to the natural, ment may ultimately succeed or fail. Most significantly, the social, and built environments that can occur. degree of integration among transportation asset management activities should be the result of conscious decisions and strate- There are a variety of potential areas of focus that may pro- gies that work best for the agency. vide key reasons for considering the implementation of a dif- ferentiated asset management framework for the IHS. Champions and Communities of Practice. What seems to be universal, at least in the early stages of implementing an asset management framework, is the need for a "champion." 6.3 Leadership Roles and Typically, this champion can be anyone with sufficient interest Implementation Planning and influence--from the front office to the front lines--to The underlying motivations for implementing an Interstate make it happen. A champion may be designated by someone Asset Management Framework as well as the primary areas on in authority or may simply emerge from among members of which to focus will have a significant bearing upon the leader- affected groups. In any case, a champion is one who does not ship roles that are taken. At the same time, whether and how rest until the mission is accomplished. an asset management framework for the IHS is implemented Possible champions may include: within a particular organizational entity both influences and is influenced by how that responsibility is parceled out in terms · Leader of the organization; of leadership roles and responsibilities. · Functional or geographic managers; · First line supervisors; and Lead Office. Experience with state DOTs and their imple- · Key technical or policy level staff. mentation of transportation asset management principles and practices reflects a wide variation in roles and responsibilities, The champion of implementing an Interstate Asset Manage- ranging geographically from headquarters to field operations ment Framework, which in one way or another will stand apart as well as functionally from planning and design to materials from other transportation asset management activities, will and maintenance. Often such responsibilities vary by asset bear the burden of prevailing in the likely deliberations and class. For example, it is quite common for a centralized struc- debates about why such a differentiated approach is needed at tural division (with design responsibilities for new and reme- all. The arguments about the unique significance of the IHS, dial design) to play the lead role for bridge management the benefits (and burdens) of a risk-based approach, the need systems while a decentralized network of materials or mainte- for mitigation strategies and contingency plans, the strong nance offices takes the lead for asset management activities interest of outside stakeholders--most if not all of these argu- involving pavements. In some DOTs, as well as within the ments are likely to be relevant to the champion. AASHTO committee structure, the focus of asset management The chances for a successful implementation of any is strongly influenced by resource allocation policy level issues, change are immeasurably improved when a lone champion and asset management is led by the planning function. There coalesces with others who buy in and support the ideas, and is clearly no single set way. It is essential in implementing an thereby form a community of practice--a group of cham- Interstate Asset Management Framework to take into account pions and supporters whose common commitment is to the the unique organizational framework of each agency, prefer- successful implementation of the proposed change. The ences among managers and staffs, and the actual day-to-day strongest communities of practice are cross cutting, spanning practices that in a de facto way define relationships, roles, and the full range of relevant functions and hierarchies across an responsibilities. organization. Integration. For entities that already practice transporta- Implementation Plan. Implementing an Interstate Asset tion asset management and have decided to differentiate in Management Framework, like any deployment of a new or some manner an Interstate Asset Management Framework, modified way of doing business, requires a systematic plan to they can integrate the framework as a separable yet adjunct set clearly define the objectives, formulate the change process, of activities within the overall asset management framework or establish a schedule and responsibilities, identify and secure further differentiate by assigning leadership and management resources, and measure progress. Ideally such a plan would be responsibilities for the Interstate Asset Management Frame- developed not only by internal lead agency participants but work to separate organizational units or to separate individu- by involving outside stakeholders who can lend support to als. This implementation decision is fraught with "shades of the effort and to the utilization of the results. Assembling an gray." Depending upon the way it is done and the people implementation planning team would be an invaluable step involved (people and personalities are inevitable and unavoid- in the process.
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49 Stakeholders and Collaboration ber of DOTs is that a surface transportation program legisla- tive reform agenda holding states accountable for how Federal Under almost any circumstance the owner of an IHS route funds are spent, coupled with the recognized need to better or network (state DOT, state or regional toll authority, or pri- define the Federal interest in transportation, is inevitable and vate sector lessee or concessionaire) will be involved in the core will lead to a core set of common measures. DOTs believe that data components of an asset management system involving by working through AASHTO, they would be better served by inventory and condition information of the primary asset developing such proposals themselves rather than having them categories: pavements and structures. The use of this data to imposed by Congress or the U.S. DOT as potentially unfunded influence policy, program, and project decision making mandates. The IHS, with its critically important national role, varies considerably however. Even more variable is the role of represents one of the strongest candidates for the near term nonowner stakeholders in applying asset management princi- implementation of such national performance measures. At ples to transportation facilities under the ownership and con- the same time, it is clear from deliberations among AASHTO trol of others. Yet, nonowner stakeholders may well have a level members that the DOTs feel very strongly about how such of interest in IHS facilities comparable to owner-operators by measurement systems may be used in terms of setting appro- virtue of how critical the IHS is to their own underlying core priate targets and evaluating performance. The clear consensus missions. is that they must be customized for, and left to, individual state The opportunity for state DOTs and other owner/operators circumstances to account for the substantial variation in every of IHS assets to engage stakeholders as partners can be an significant aspect, from soils to weather conditions, from topog- appealing characteristic of an Interstate Asset Management raphy to traffic characteristics, from conditions and needs to Framework if it is developed with collaboration and consensus financial capacity. Implementing an Interstate Asset Manage- building in mind. ment Framework on a state-by-state basis, with AASHTO pro- viding a coordination mechanism, seems like a suitable way to Federal. The IHS is a national resource. It was funded advance towards a performance-based, outcome-driven pro- 90 percent by the Federal government, but while the Federal gram structure. government is charged with overseeing maintenance to ensure that the national investment in the IHS is preserved, as a prac- MPOs. MPOs are charged under Federal statute with long tical matter there is little or no decision-making authority at range planning and short range capital program development the Federal level in the day-to-day management of IHS assets. for over 400 metropolitan areas in the United States. Some Yet clearly the criticality of the IHS to the nation's well being is MPOs have areawide financial, operational, and governance if anything stronger than when the system was first conceived. functions that go well beyond the core set of Federally man- FHWA is charged with reporting biennially to Congress on the dated activities (the Metropolitan Transportation Commission condition, performance and funding needs of the nation's Fed- in the San Francisco Bay Area, with its responsibilities for erally funded highways and bridges, of which the IHS is the financing and operating programs, is among the best exam- most significant. FHWA is therefore a key stakeholder in the ples). What this means is that a number of MPOs are positioned availability of inventory and condition information which it as partners with state DOTs, toll authorities, and private sector collects through the efforts of the state DOT. operators in terms of their ongoing interest in activities affect- Note that whether the Federal role should involve more ing resource allocation decisions. The need for mutual trust in than information gathering and reporting is a subject of some such partnership arrangements can be best served with full and debate. But even in its most limited role the Federal government open access among all partners to a common set of informa- is clearly an important stakeholder of an IHS asset management tion as well as tools made available to analyze and apply such approach. information to decision making. An Interstate Asset Manage- ment Framework could serve as an excellent way to build, test, AASHTO. It may be more likely to achieve implementa- and sustain this partnership arrangement. tion of an Interstate Asset Management Framework by multi- ple states on a national scale by working through a peer process Local Government. Since the IHS invariably serves as not facilitated by AASHTO's Subcommittee on Asset Management only the nation's and individual states' most important high- than by way of Federal direction. AASHTO's policy-making way network but serves similarly in terms of its significance structure, in its deliberations on future Federal authorizing leg- across metropolitan regions and often within individual coun- islation, seems to be moving toward the recognition that the ties and municipalities, an implicit choice among "owners" time has come for AASHTO itself to propose nationally con- and local authorities is whether or not to initiate a collegial, sistent, outcome driven, accountability measures to which the outreach approach to the management of IHS assets. This kind DOTs would agree up front as offering fair and reasonable per- of collaboration must be forged on a case-by-case basis. In some formance assessments. The sense among an increasing num- cases (such as Wisconsin and Michigan) county governments