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52 · Leads to Reasonable Expectations that Validate Intu- General ition--When the processes are working properly, asset · Resistance to Change; Parochialism--As Machiavelli management tends to provide quantified verification for findings that, as involved managers, we already knew. famously observed, change is inherently difficult to achieve · Defensible and Timely Decisions. and is often resisted by parochial interests oriented to turf · Preventive Maintenance Funding--As noted above, effec- protection. · Internal Stakeholder Buy-In--Obtaining the enthusiastic tive asset management lends support to early intervention strategies. support of the agency personnel most directly affected by an · Fewer Unmitigated Disasters (i.e., more averted system asset management program is a key hurdle in a successful failures)--Asset management, particularly when enhanced rollout. Many initiatives have foundered to a lack of this with risk management processes, provides the early warning support--outright openly expressed opposition is unusual signals to support proactive intervention before a situation but a silent pattern of passive resistance is equally debilitating. becomes untenable. · Too Big a Challenge; Fear of Getting it Wrong--Since by · Reliability of Access to Key Facilities--Effective asset its nature asset management emphasizes a comprehensive management should focus resources on key facilities such approach there is a very real danger that it can founder of its as the IHS. own weight. Several agencies have overcome this obstacle · Global Competitiveness--One of the keys to the rise of the through a phased implementation model in which the ini- United States during the post-World War II era as the eco- tial steps are modest to achieve credibility and success that nomic engine of the planet was the comparative advantage builds upon itself. provided by our highway network, as exemplified by the · Perceived as Cost Excessive--In an era of constrained IHS. That advantage has eroded in recent years--an effec- budgets and declining revenues it can be difficult to justify a tive asset management program can support the restoration program where the costs are immediate and easily measur- of a highway network that should improve the nation's com- able while the benefits are longer term and less defined. petitiveness in a global economy. · Lack of a Champion in a State--The absence of a passion- ate and committed champion is a key obstacle to the suc- cessful rollout of an asset management program. Similarly, National Perspective a change in agency leadership, which occurs all too fre- · Focus on IHS and its Defined National Mission-- quently in today's environment, can cost a program its Adoption of an asset management framework for the IHS champion and place further implementation in doubt. will refocus attention on the preservation of this nationally · Do Not Reward Bad Behavior--There is a concern that critical system in its post-new construction phase. asset managers who have conducted their stewardship role · Framework for Interstate Discussions--Asset manage- poorly will be rewarded with additional funding since ment can provide a common framework of definitions and reported needs will be greater. This dynamic was in play processes to facilitate effective communication among the during debates on a national bridge inspection and repair states that can foster a consistent (although not identical) program; some states were concerned that a needs-based approach to managing the nation's premiere highway sys- funding formula would penalize them for maintaining tem, the Interstate. their bridges in a state of good repair. · Enhanced Regional Cooperation--These interstate dis- cussions can lead to improved regional cooperation among Internal Procedures states and toll authorities that operate common and con- necting links and networks to the benefit of each other and · Getting bogged down in data issues: the traveling public. High Data Threshold--Effective asset management · Make the Case for IHS Criticality More Competitive with requires a great deal of highly disaggregated data in Other Needs--As at the state level, an effective asset man- order to produce meaningful results. This poses a chal- agement program can establish credibility and help build lenge to agencies that rely upon system averages for con- the case for increased Federal funding for the IHS. dition data. Data Quality--Even if data are available in the required level of detail, there can be challenges regarding the qual- 6.5 Challenges ity of the data. Condition ratings, for example, may vary Consistent with the approach to benefits, the March 13, significantly among districts or even between individu- 2008 workshop participants identified the following as imple- als within a single district unless there is an effective mentation obstacles and costs: quality control program to assure replicable results.
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53 One More System to Feed--Many agencies have a officials may have little understanding of the goals and pur- plethora of management information systems, some of poses of an asset management program. which produce results of questionable utility. Asset · Political Influence--As noted above, asset management management may be perceived by some as one more on focuses on resource allocation. However, as a practical mat- that list. ter, politics are also very involved in resource allocation and · Finite Staff Time--Perhaps an agency's most precious the political dynamic may produce far different results than resource is staff time (whose numbers are typically declining the asset management program. both relative to the mission and in absolute terms). Allocat- ing the staff time that effective asset management requires Outcomes poses a significant challenge. · Finite Resources in Addition to Staff Time--Other · Results Refute Intuition; Do Not Make Sense--Even resources (funds, people, facilities, and equipment) are also agencies that have devoted a great deal of careful attention in limited supply and applying them to asset management to developing an accurate asset management program have means they are not available for other priorities. experienced receiving results that simply don't make any · Tools May Be Unavailable or May Not Deliver--Tools are sense. Some have had to resort to a "k factor" approach to primarily in the categories of data collection systems for make the numbers come out the right way. inventory and condition information and management · Cross-Silo Comparisons and Competition--Asset man- information systems. Many agencies have had unsatisfac- agement can produce a programming dynamic in which, tory experiences in both categories. say, pavement and bridge projects are competing for the · Difficulty in Quantifying Risk--As noted above, a quanti- same limited pot of funds. While some would argue that tative approach to characterizing risks is a key potential ben- this is a desirable exercise, it can be a bruising process for efit of asset management. However, developing meaningful the participants. numbers for low probability events is a challenging task. · Local Interstates May Suffer--Focus on the most nationally · Inability to Achieve Consensus on Details--As always, significant IHS routes may cause a reduction in resources the devil is in the details and achieving internal consensus allocated to other routes in particular states. on the myriad aspects of an effective asset management · Intimidating Needs Results--The asset management pro- program is often an arduous proposition. gram may generate a list of needs that is so overwhelming · Paralysis by Analysis--Having achieved the capability of as to be politically unacceptable. modeling the performance effects of various investment levels and patterns, it is possible to have too much of a good National Perspective thing and becoming bogged down in endless iterations. The number of alternative scenarios to be tested should be lim- · Achieving Consistent Definitions--In order to be mean- ited to a number that the mind can readily comprehend. ingful, an asset management framework for the IHS will require consistent definitions for items such as condition levels among the states. Achieving such consistency has Communication with External Stakeholders proven to be problematic in the past due to variation in cir- · External Stakeholder Buy-In--Just as achieving buy-in cumstances across the states. from internal stakeholders can be problematic, so too is the · Comparable Measures State-to-State (also could be seen case for external parties who may question the commitment as a benefit by elected officials)--A national Interstate of resources to the undertaking, or not understand or care Asset Management Framework could lend itself to conclu- about the results. sions being drawn about comparative performance among · Elected Officials' Comprehension--Elected officials are the states. Such comparisons have, on occasion, been inap- among the most important external stakeholders, particu- propriately conducted in the past, causing many states to larly those serving on legislative budget committees. Such view such an exercise with trepidation.