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61 CHAPTER 7 Findings and Recommendations A Reporting Framework Is Possible documents would allow a user to pursue easy links to reach detailed reports for context and interpretation. Interest in measuring freight system performance will only The report card is assumed to be evolutionary and catalytic. increase as Congress, USDOT, and the state transportation The initial proposed report card reflects "the art of the pos- agencies refine their efforts to enhance freight efficiency, sible." It is the type of reporting system that is possible in the safety, and convenience. Concurrently, private-sector freight existing environment of disparate agencies reporting results to professionals will continue to enhance their already sophisti- address their individual areas of responsibility. At this prelimi- cated metrics for managing supply chains in highly competi- nary stage of freight performance reporting, the report card tive markets. is proposed to be a first-generation framework that would be This research demonstrates that considerable freight sys- expected to expand and evolve over time. The creation of such tem performance information exists today that could be a report card is likely to be catalytic and lead to greater inter- consolidated into a Freight System Report Card that would est in freight metrics, requests for additional metrics, and the benefit both public and private stakeholders. Such a report catalyzing of an expanded and more comprehensive reporting card could become a frequently used hub for performance process over a number of years, if not decades. information of major aspects of the nation's freight system. As proposed, the Freight System Report Card would provide Overcoming Impediments users with a synopsis of performance in key areas of freight system performance, as well as insight into freight system The impediments to creating a Freight System Report externalities. With the proposed structure of the report card, Card are numerous, but the framework proposed here was it could be replicated at the state and metropolitan levels. devised specifically to overcome as many of the impediments Such replication would allow comparable analysis of freight as possible. system performance for comparative analysis of states and First, as there is no multimodal freight entity with a span metropolitan regions. of control over all modes, all governments, and the private The value added from such a report card could be signifi- sector, there is no one organization that could produce a com- cant. Because it emphasizes trend line metrics, it provides prehensive Freight System Report Card on its own. Therefore insight into the long-term performance of the transportation the collaboration of many organizations is assumed in this system. Its use of leading indicators is intended to focus deci- framework. The framework proposed here was based on sion makers on the likely outcomes of current freight policies. the premise that entities would be likely to cooperate if they As such, it could be an important barometer for policy makers are asked to provide existing reports that they already have and one that prompts their attention to looming problems. demonstrated a long-standing commitment to produce. This The report card is designed to serve a broad array of stake- report card is a synthesis undertaking that proposes to assem- holders, from those who need only the highest-level sum- ble in one virtual location the accumulated efforts of many mary information to those who desire links to in-depth anal- public- and private-sector organizations. Examples of such ysis. The report card is intended to allow quick, at-a-glance cooperation exist. AAR and Austroads in Australia have pro- assessment of trends but also allow expansion of analysis for duced such websites for more than a decade. This report card understanding the underlying trends that are at work. The proposal is based, in part, on the long-standing success of linkage to performance summaries and to larger, source those reporting frameworks.