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OCR for page 18
3.3 PROFILE OF THE EXISTING SOM WORKFORCE Systems operations and management requires the knowledge of multiple disciplines, primarily including, but not limited to, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), traffic engineering, maintenance, emergency response and incident management, performance measurement, and system planning (Spy Pond Partners et al., 2009). An understanding of the interactions among transportation modes and between the transportation system and other functions, such as emergency management, public safety, and the concerns of the general public is critical for a job within SOM, as was determined from NCHRP Project 20-77. Thus, extensive knowledge of statistics and experience in data management and analysis lay the foundation for the skill set necessary for an occupation in SOM. Skills needed to improve productivity and quality of operations, such as quality assurance, forecasting, planning and scheduling, staffing, design and control of operations systems, creating value for the customer, project management, and supply chain and inventory management, continue to build the skill set needed for an SOM. Opinions on the skill sets necessary to carry out some of the SOM's most widespread and critical occupations vary, depending on the combination of core function and position. One important distinction being investigated by many employers is the difference between core and complementary skills for staff. Core skills can be defined as those abilities which are necessary for an individual to carry out the technical responsibilities of a position; one would be unable to qualify for a position without possessing the necessary core skills required. As determined by NCHRP Project 20-24(48), complementary skills such as communication and problem solving, on the other hand, are not a requisite for obtaining a position, although they are valuable and useful in their own right. For example, in a typical SOM position, an individual may primarily serve as a Traffic Technician responsible for overseeing a variety of activities designed to enhance highway safety and user efficiency. This responsibility is often performed through the collection, analysis, and application of traffic and highway safety data and principles to specific traffic control, signing, and marking situations. The Traffic Technician may be the only certified technician specialist with a degree in civil or electrical technology in the work unit (core skills necessary to qualify for the position), but he/she must also possess leadership and project management skills (complementary skills) to direct work and carry it out effectively. Many employers are making great strides in defining core and complementary skills for a number of SOM positions, and using the information to set appropriate staffing levels and chart training programs. The interface and collaboration with various disciplines and the nature of SOM work itself distinguishes the competencies required of the engineers and other employees who hold SOM positions from the competencies used by other engineers and transportation workers. Several participants indicated challenges in recruiting for SOM positions because the typical applicant is specialized in one area while SOM jobs require someone with broad knowledge, capable of performing a variety of roles. As a result, participants said their DOTs sometimes rely on contracted staff to address SOM skill gaps. The amount of work that gets contracted out varies among DOTs and primarily depends on the agency's budget. Due to funding limitations, DOTs are able to justify an increase in the number of contractors hired to perform the work that would otherwise require a full-time employee. 18

OCR for page 18
According to participants, DOTs opt to contract out work, especially short-term projects, because agencies are facing full-time employee (FTE) caps in many cases and it is a lot easier to hire and terminate consultants when they are no longer needed, compared to a full-time government employee. However, DOTs expressed concerns about the contracting out of work and knowledge the DOT needs, to manage the larger system and/or when contractor turnover occurs or services are not available in their region. The DOT's responsibilities and the increasing demand for SOM knowledge and maintenance remains. The majority of work contracted out occurs in the more specialized positions, including ITS Maintenance, Control Room Managers and Operators, Incident Response, Traffic Control, and Electronic Technicians, where participants indicated their DOT often lacked employees with the technical skills. Participants reported the demand for these positions is greater because there is a challenge in recruiting for these positions, as DOTs typically struggle to find applicants with these specific skills willing to work at the associated pay grade. Regardless of whether the work is contracted out or performed in-house, the core competencies related to each of the core functions remain the same. Exhibit 5 provides an overview of the core competencies related to each of the core functions previously identified. Exhibit 5 Core Job Function by Related Competencies Core Job Functions Related Competencies Policy and Policy Development The development of principles or rules to guide Strategic decisions within departments with which to achieve reasonable outcomes. Considerations Public Outreach The effort to connect the ideas or practices of the department to the efforts of other organizations or agencies as well as the general public. Strategy Development The development of strategies to help the department achieve its mission, or the establishment of a framework for guiding the direction of department decision making. Organizational Change Management Using a structured, pre-defined strategy, model, or framework to transition organizations from a current state to a desired future state. Program Business Process Management The alignment of all aspects of an Planning organization with the wants and needs of customers while promoting department effectiveness and efficiency and striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology. Organization and Staffing Staffing is the process of finding the right people, with the right knowledge, skills, abilities, and fit, who may be hired, who already work for the department, or who may be trained or developed to acquire the right knowledge or skills. Link Between Operations and Planning The knowledge of both transportation operations and program planning that allows for understanding the connections between them. 19

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Exhibit 5 (Continued) Core Job Function by Related Competencies Core Job Functions Related Competencies Systems Systems Development Process/Methods Awareness and understanding of Development the process or methods used to develop and implement a transportation system. Systems Architecture The process or art of defining the hardware and software architecture, components, modules, interfaces, and data for a transportation/ITS system to satisfy specified requirements. Database Management for Operations Awareness and understanding of how centralized collections of transportation operations data are stored, manipulated, accessed, and secured. Program Languages and Technology Familiarity with the vocabulary and rules for instructing a computer to perform specific tasks and understanding of the computers or technologies that require these languages. Visualization The creation of images, diagrams, or animations to communicate a message. Network Security The development and use of policies and provisions in a computer network infrastructure to protect the network and network-accessible resources from unauthorized access, as well as monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of these policies and provisions. Project Project/Contract Management The management of a project/contract for Management goods, services, or works, which includes monitoring performance, commercial aspects, delivery, improvement, complaints, and customer satisfaction. Outsourcing Contract Management Utilization of a contractor to manage a contract for goods, services, or works, which includes monitoring performance, commercial aspects, delivery, improvement, complaints, and customer satisfaction. Procurement The purchase of goods and/or services at the best possible total cost of ownership, in the right quantity and quality, at the right time, in the right place for the direct benefit or use of the department, generally via a contract. In-House Procurement Utilizing the goods and/or services currently offered by the department in the right quantity and quality, at the right time, in the right place for the direct benefit or use of the department. Risk Management The identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks within projects followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of adverse events. 20