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47 developed a report card for distribution to the Transporta- · The bridge inventory and condition and performance tion Commission, legislature, and governor, and discusses in several categories: structural and functional defi- performance targets with the Transportation Commission. A ciency; susceptibility to catastrophic damage from third provides information on bridge structural integrity and scour, fracture critical elements that require attention, impact on mobility using information based on the NBI data. and seismic events; other safety problems; measures Others base performance reporting on the physical condition of statewide and district condition or health; and com- of bridges as established through their inspection programs. parison of performance measures to targets · Past and planned work by organizational or geographic unit Bridge Management System Applications · Reporting in accordance with GASB Statement 34. To Agency Decision Making About 30% to 40% of respondents reported using their The preceding sections have described agencies' bridge BMS for higher-level management functions, including management and decision-making processes in general. budgeting, scenario testing, trade-off analyses, generating More focused information was also obtained regarding spe- quantifiable parameters to provide guidance in project selec- cific uses of their respective BMSs. tion, and documenting past and planned bridge projects by political jurisdiction. Fewer than 10% of the respondents Support of Planning Process used their BMS for economic analyses--that is, for LCC analysis or computation of avoidable user costs as a function The planning component of the survey asked whether par- of alternative budget scenarios. ticular features of the agency's BMS were used to support the planning process. A total of 17 agencies responded to this These results have implications similar to those documented question, with the distribution of responses as shown in Fig- in the NCHRP Synthesis 243 (the Topic 27-09 survey) 10 years ure 12. More than half of the respondents reported using their ago and the other historical reviews of BMS implementation BMS for planning-related information in the following areas: summarized earlier: a strong use of bridge and other asset FIGURE 12 BMS support of agency planning processes. Note: FO = Functional Obsolescence; GASB = Governmental Accounting Standards Board; SD = Structural Deficiency.
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48 anagement systems to track inventory and asset condition and m The survey results for these three stages of programming performance, but less use for more advanced tasks in manage- analyses are shown in graphics similar to Figure 13. These ment, budgeting, and predictive analyses. Although economic graphics apply stacked 100% horizontal bars to illustrate methods are recognized as important techniques in good asset the distribution of responses according to the three ratings management practice, they reportedly receive little attention in cited previously; they also give a visual cue as to whether or BMS applications to planning. Similar findings will be seen in not the BMS is used at all in each type of analysis. This is the discussion of programming processes and senior manage- done by using a positive and negative scale that extends to ment uses of BMS information in the following sections. 100% of responses in each direction. For example, a bar that extended to +100% would indicate that all respondents used Support of Programming Process the BMS in some capacity, whether to complete the analysis fully (the first rating cited previously) or partially, supple- Survey participants were queried regarding the application mented by additional analyses outside of the BMS (the sec- of their computerized BMS to three analyses that are part ond rating cited previously). A bar that extended to -100% of project programming: (1) quantifying performance mea- (i.e., to the left of the zero origin) would mean that none of sures; (2) needs analyses; and (3) resource allocation and the respondents used their BMS regularly for the particular trade-off analyses. Each question required one of the follow- analysis (i.e., all would have selected the third option cited ing ratings as a response: previously). More typically, the bars will lie between inter- mediate values: say, 70% of respondents using the BMS, but · The analysis is accomplished primarily through use of 30% that do not. There are, of course, many other possible the BMS. combinations, but the sum of those using the BMS plus those · The analysis makes use of the BMS plus additional not using the BMS by definition will always total 100%. processing of BMS information (external to the BMS) Graphics similar to Figure 13 display the survey results; or professional judgment. the actual numerical response data are in Appendix D (see · The BMS is seldom or never used for this analysis. Questions 3450). FIGURE 13 Agency use of BMS to quantify performance measures. Note: BMS = bridge management system; GASB = Governmental Accounting Standards Board.
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49 FIGURE 14 Agency use of BMS for needs analyses. Note: BMS = bridge management system. Quantifying Performance Measures leaders, and stakeholders. BMSs are applied when preparing reports for use in budgeting by subordinate levels. To a lesser The use of BMSs to quantify performance measures is one degree, BMSs are used to develop network-level estimates of of two programming-support analyses that received strong needs by applying technical inputs in terms of project-level positive survey responses, as shown in Figure 13. Almost candidates and economic analyses of unconstrained and all respondents indicated that their BMS is used to calcu- constrained needs. Supplementary analyses and professional late current bridge condition or performance directly, with judgment are relatively important in these network-level relatively little need for additional input from supplementary needs calculations. One interview described an example analyses or professional judgment (first response in Figure of such a situation. This particular DOT uses Pontis, which 13). Eighty percent of respondents reported obtaining cor- already has built-in predictive models for analyzing future responding condition-performance information for particu- bridge conditions and estimating needs. Nevertheless, the lar subsets of the bridge network. For the other options in agency applies the NBI Translator program to convert Pontis Figure 13, the BMS was reportedly used by a smaller share element-level bridge ratings to NBI ratings. The agency then of respondents (roughly 60% in each case), with additional uses these NBI ratings to estimate its coming bridge needs, analytic support particularly noted for GASB 34 reporting. even though the NBI data are less detailed and represent cur- rent rather than future bridge condition. Needs Analysis Resource Allocation and Trade-offs Needs analysis was a second area in which survey respon- dents strongly indicated a key role for BMS in programming, BMSs are used less frequently for resource allocation and as shown in Figure 14. More than 90% of survey respon- trade-off analyses than for the previous two analytical aspects dents use a BMS to support needs analysis, and almost 90% of programming, as demonstrated by survey results in Fig- use BMS information in connection with identifying major- ure 15. BMS applications to resource allocations statewide, bridge needs (first and second entries in Figure 14). The by functional class or subnetwork and by organizational unit, frequent use of other information in addition to that from and budgeting support to central office and field personnel a computerized system in addressing major projects is not that manage bridges, were reported by 60% to 70% of sur- surprising, given the high visibility of these projects and vey respondents. In many of these cases the BMS informa- the extent of input provided by agency executives, political tion is supplemented by additional analytic or subjective
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50 onsiderations. Interviews indicated that this often occurs c The most widely applied uses were as follows, with the regarding decisions on funding allocation. Use of BMS infor- percentage of respondents: mation to produce project-level or network-level summaries of the impacts of different proposed budgets, as might be used · To generate summary information about the inventory, by bridge personnel and upper management to justify particu- condition, SD, and FO at the network and district levels lar levels of investment, was reported much less frequently, (67%) and where it is performed, it rarely is accomplished using the · To produce information that can be compared with per- BMS alone. The reasons for these results may include one or formance targets set by management (48%) more of the following: (1) preferences by different managers · To identify safety or other serious problems such as vary on what categories or formats of information to display; scour, presence of fracture critical elements, or seismic (2) models and data that are needed to compute these impacts vulnerability (43%) are not now part of the agency's BMS; (3) data or analytic · To provide information to satisfy public reporting models that are needed to calculate the desired impacts may requirements of GASB 34 (43%). not be available or credible in the opinion of potential users; and (4) agency personnel do not believe that predictions of the Additional Information on Budgeting impacts of different budget levels are needed or useful. A separate component of the budgeting portion of the survey Budgeting asked about factors that influence the budgeting process for the bridge program. The results generally reinforce the find- Responding to the budgeting component of the survey, two- ings described earlier and provide additional details. These thirds of participating agencies reported that their agency's additional results are included in Appendix E. BMS is used to support their budgeting process. The extent of use of particular BMS information was identified as System Information Used by Management Team shown in Figure 16. A related set of survey questions inquired about the use of BMS-produced information generally by the CEO and FIGURE 15 Agency use of BMS for resource allocation and trade-off analyses. Note: BMS = bridge management system.
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51 upper-level managers. The three categories of information Bridge Condition and Performance that were posed were bridge condition and performance, programming and budgeting, and economic analysis. Find- Reported use of different types of bridge condition and per- ings are presented graphically in the sections that follow. formance information by senior managers is shown in Fig- The numerical survey tallies are in Appendix D (see Bridge ure 17. More than 80% of the respondents use BMS reports Engineer Questions 125 and 64). on bridge condition and performance, including NBI ratings, FIGURE 16 Agency use of BMS information for budgeting. Note: GASB = Governmental Accounting Standards Board. FIGURE 17 Senior manager use of information on bridge condition and performance. Note: BMS = bridge management system; GASB = Governmental Accounting Standards Board.
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52 other measures and health indexes, and specific ratings of · The available predictive models do not enjoy credibil- key bridge components. Respondents expressed strong inter- ity within the agency. est in other information on bridge safety, including suscep- tibility to catastrophic events, and tracking the success in The low reported use of the BMS for GASB-related infor- meeting stated condition targets. All of these examples relate mation may reflect some of these issues or may stem from to the current status of the bridge inventory. Reported use of the agency's choice of method for GASB 34 reporting. information that is produced by the predictive capabilities of BMS is substantially lower. A perhaps surprising result Programming and Budgeting Information is that half of the respondents attributed this lack of use to the inability of their agencies' BMS to predict the future Senior management use of various categories of program- condition or health of their bridges. The survey results did ming and budgeting information is shown in Figure 18. The not reveal the reasons for this limited use of BMS prediction greatest reported use is for items that are of immediate inter- models, which might be the result of a number of reasons: est and most direct and unambiguous in their scope--for example, a single recommended bridge program budget, · An agency's BMS may lack predictive models. estimates of short-term needs for different funding scenar- · The BMS has predictive models, but agency staff do ios, and information on major bridge projects. Use of BMS not use them or are not familiar with how to use them. results declines as the focus of this information extends to · Available models may employ condition or perfor- longer planning horizons, more predictive types of analyses mance measures that are different from the ones the such as trade-offs and impacts of different resource alloca- agency uses. tions, and various ways of breaking down the information. · The BMS has predictive capability, but the agency has (It is possible that agencies organize their information dif- not yet analyzed the data needed to develop appropri- ferently from the ways suggested in the survey.) Two inter- ate models. esting aspects of agency responses were the following: · The BMS itself may be difficult to use in terms of its user interface, navigation controls, access to the bridge · Many responses, including those for widely used bud- database, lack of integration with other systems and geting capabilities, indicated that additional process- data, and so forth. ing is needed beyond that provided by the BMS before FIGURE 18 Senior manager use of information for programming and budgeting. Note: BMS = bridge management system; MRR = maintenance, rehabilitation, and replacement.
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53 the information is in a form useable by agency execu- Economic Analysis Information tives. Supplementary comments suggested that addi- tional information and analyses may relate to things Figure 19 displays the reported use by DOT top manag- such as district and local priorities, more comprehen- ers of economic analysis for bridges. Overall, the use is sive project information, socioeconomic and political relatively small for all of the cases listed in the survey. considerations, and information for other, nonbridge Relatively, the greatest application is for benefit-cost anal- programs, such as roadway pavements, safety, and yses of major bridge project alternatives, an occasionally operations. used capability that was confirmed in the interviews. The · Many responses referred to the programming and other economic analyses shown in Figure 19 were each budgeting information that is reportedly less widely reported by fewer than 20% of the respondents. The impli- supported by a BMS (the results in the lower part of cation is that the leadership of a relatively small number Figure 18). With the exception of information on in- of agencies is able to use their BMS to gain a network- house versus contracted program delivery, a major- level perspective of the economic issues relating to their ity of the respondents who do not use their BMSs bridge program. These issues include, for example, net- to obtain this information cited a lack of capability work-level benefit-cost ratios for alternative bridge pro- within their BMS as the reason. These results are gram investments, network-level estimates of LCCs, and again somewhat surprising given that features built network-level estimates of avoidable road-user costs (acci- into modern BMSs appear to support most of the dent, travel time, and vehicle operating costs). Once more, categories of information listed in Figure 18, includ- most of the respondents who do not use their BMS for ing mid- and long-term needs projections and analy- economic analyses claim that the BMS does not support ses of scenarios and trade-offs. The survey results these methods, a claim that is difficult to reconcile with did not state reasons or explanations for the agen- the existing features of Pontis and other modern bridge cies' perceptions, but a number of possibilities exist management tools. similar to those proposed in the preceding section. Regarding in-house versus contract program deliv- Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve More Effective Bridge ery, the lack of use of the BMS to produce this infor- Management System Use mation appears to relate more to a lack of desire for this information than to any issue with the capability Agencies that reported not using many of the BMS capa- of the BMS. bilities discussed earlier (specifically the features listed FIGURE 19 Senior manager use of economic analysis information. Note: B/C = benefit-cost; BMS = bridge management system.