sion making. Reducing the demand or load on the system may be equally as effective as increasing the system's ability to meet higher demand, or even more so. When infrastructure professionals seek to make such judgments, there is potentially some tension between public perception and opinion on the one hand and professionals acting as experts on the other.
There is likely to be continuing tension as well between national interests and local priorities in the setting of goals for infrastructure. It is probably unavoidable in a diverse nation that some areas will find that objectives set for clean air or highway safety impose burdens on local businesses or households that seem too great for the benefits realized. Resolving these tensions will always pose a major challenge for the political process.
For major decisions, such as building new transit systems or waste disposal plants or imposing downtown parking controls or regional water-use restrictions, conflicts in values among various stakeholders within the community are likely as well. In addition, these values and resulting preferences may not be clearly defined or even well formed for many stakeholders.
In all these settings, the assessment process proposed here and the strategies for improving performance will influence the way in which opinions form. The final decisions about how best to undertake performance improvement often will be resolved in the political process, not by scientific analysis. The committee recommends its assessment framework as an aid to exploration, discussion, and effective resolution of the complex issues of infrastructure performance, but it will be up to the users of these tools to make the difficult choices.