1
INTRODUCTION

The nation's water supplies, transportation, wastewater, solid waste, and other infrastructure provide a range of essential services.1 They facilitate movement of people and goods, provide adequate safe water for drinking and other uses, provide energy where it is needed, remove wastes, and generally support the U.S. economy and quality of life. They are public assets that grow in value, with each generation called on to make its contribution to the legacy. Infrastructure is developed to enhance public health and safety, provide jobs, foster regional economic development, and protect the environment. Improvements in infrastructure technology and management have been responsible for controlling cholera and other diseases epidemic in the last century and for opening vast new opportunities for people to live and work in ways they enjoy. At the same time, new demands for infrastructure services have arisen, for example, to reduce losses from highway accidents, control water pollution from new development, and provide faster travel between distant places. In addition, an increasing awareness has emerged about the broader role of infrastructure in shaping development and the environment. Bridges, bike paths, telecommunications dishes, and electric power transmission lines are ubiquitous across the landscape. They annoy, inspire, educate, and amaze and are elements of infrastructure judged by their aesthetic qualifies as well as their functional capabilities. Infrastructure systems serve the broad purposes identified for public construction by the Roman engineer and architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio two millennia ago. They should, as he wrote, be carried out with strength, utility, and grace (Adams, 1991).



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Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance 1 INTRODUCTION The nation's water supplies, transportation, wastewater, solid waste, and other infrastructure provide a range of essential services.1 They facilitate movement of people and goods, provide adequate safe water for drinking and other uses, provide energy where it is needed, remove wastes, and generally support the U.S. economy and quality of life. They are public assets that grow in value, with each generation called on to make its contribution to the legacy. Infrastructure is developed to enhance public health and safety, provide jobs, foster regional economic development, and protect the environment. Improvements in infrastructure technology and management have been responsible for controlling cholera and other diseases epidemic in the last century and for opening vast new opportunities for people to live and work in ways they enjoy. At the same time, new demands for infrastructure services have arisen, for example, to reduce losses from highway accidents, control water pollution from new development, and provide faster travel between distant places. In addition, an increasing awareness has emerged about the broader role of infrastructure in shaping development and the environment. Bridges, bike paths, telecommunications dishes, and electric power transmission lines are ubiquitous across the landscape. They annoy, inspire, educate, and amaze and are elements of infrastructure judged by their aesthetic qualifies as well as their functional capabilities. Infrastructure systems serve the broad purposes identified for public construction by the Roman engineer and architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio two millennia ago. They should, as he wrote, be carried out with strength, utility, and grace (Adams, 1991).

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Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance Responsibility for these systems is primarily a local matter, with some 80 percent of the annual investment in infrastructure coming from local and state government sources or private enterprises, but the federal government's influence on infrastructure development and management is much greater than its 20 percent share suggests. In addition to the many federal programs that provide funds for such purposes as purchasing public transit buses, building sewage treatment plants, and dredging harbors, other programs set standards for water and air purity, control the nation's airways, monitor public health, and otherwise seek to ensure the safety and efficacy of infrastructure. Yet despite these many programs and regulatory activities, there currently is no integrated federal policy toward infrastructure as a whole, although integration within modes has increased in recent years. Many people assert that such a policy is needed because government below the federal level is unable to deal effectively with the issues of urban development and infrastructure. More than three-quarters of the nation's population now resides in metropolitan areas, and these urban agglomerations account for a major share of our economic output. Within each metropolitan area, myriad local government bodies hold limited authority and often compete for development and tax revenues. Most state governments must contend with the concerns of rural interests as well as several metropolitan areas or parts of areas that span state borders. Critics claim that sprawling and wasteful use of land, impoverished and decaying inner-city areas, and deterioration of suburban quality of life are among the adverse impacts of this lack of institutional coordination. Others argue, however, that such problems are not new and in any case are the result of factors that extend well beyond the influence of infrastructure. Whether integrated policy is warranted, the possible content of such policy toward infrastructure, and ways to make federal infrastructure programs generally more effective and efficient, are issues that continue to spark debate. The Federal Infrastructure Strategy (FIS) is a three-year program created to provide the substantive framework for resolving these issues. Originating in the President's fiscal year 1991 budget request, the FIS is an interagency activity directed and administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).2 SOURCE AND CONDUCT OF THE STUDY As a part of the FIS program, the USACE requested that the National Research Council (NRC) undertake a study on measuring and improving infrastructure performance. The NRC appointed the Committee on Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance to conduct this study.3 This committee held its first meeting in Washington, D.C., on October 7

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Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance and 8, 1993. Over the course of the subsequent 10 months, the committee met four more times. To provide practical background for their study, and to explore how concepts of performance are used by decision makers, the committee visited three cities selected to represent typical situations in which performance measures might be used: Baltimore, Maryland; Portland, Oregon; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. During these visits, the committee met with government officials and other knowledgeable professionals in each area to discuss particular projects and the region's infrastructure more generally. This document is a report of the committee's deliberations, findings, and conclusions. Prior to the committee's first meeting, NRC and USACE staff—together with members of the Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems and its constituent boards and staff and members of other units of the NRC—worked together to prepare a background paper, which became the basis for the study prospectus and the Statement of Work incorporated in the February 16, 1993, contract between the NRC and the USACE. On April 14 and 15, 1993, an initiating colloquium was held in Washington, D.C., to develop a list of key issues related to the definition, measurement, and achievement of appropriate infrastructure performance; to delineate the principal areas to be explored in addressing these issues through subsequent study activities, such as data needs, problems of measurement, problems of institutional structure, and others; and to advise Building Research Board staff on the study's future conduct. Participants in that colloquium are listed in Appendix C. In support of these several activities, NRC staff conducted bibliographic searches and literature reviews on topics relevant to the study. These topics were sometimes defined broadly to include work in other fields that might be adapted to apply to infrastructure performance. Also included was work done in other past and ongoing NRC studies on infrastructure. Appendix D presents the resulting bibliography. INFRASTRUCTURE PERFORMANCE AND IMPROVEMENT IN CONTEXT Although U.S. infrastructure is largely a local matter, federal agencies have broad influence, and it is at the federal level that much of the past decade's discussion of infrastructure policy has occurred. America in Ruins (Choate and Walter, 1981) warned that the nation's public facilities were wearing out faster than they were being replaced. Many subsequent reports elaborated on the situation, some suggesting a need for increased U.S. spending on public works infrastructure of as much as 70 percent over recent levels, for repair and upgrading of existing facilities as well as development of new ones.4 While each such estimate is often disputed,

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Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance there is broad agreement that federal budgets in the 1990s are unlikely to be a primary source of sharply increased and sustained spending for infrastructure investment. How much spending is reasonable, where the money will come from, and how spending should be allocated are open questions (and well beyond the scope of this study), but the incentives to do better with the assets currently in place are clear. Furthermore, a systematic process for performance assessment at the local level would contribute significantly to improved performance and to the most efficient investments of local, state, and federal funds. Generally speaking, performance is the carrying out of a task or fulfillment of some promise or claim, and for infrastructure this means enabling movement of goods and people, supplying clean water, disposing of wastes, and providing a variety of other services that support economic and social activities, protect public health and safety, and provide a safe environment and a sustainably high quality of life. Because infrastructure is a means to other ends, the effectiveness, efficiency, and reliability of its contribution to these other ends are ultimately the measures of infrastructure performance. In recent years, the closure of rusted highway bridges, outbreaks of water-borne diseases, and fatal railroad accidents have demonstrated that our views of infrastructure performance can quickly and dramatically change. Seeking to describe and measure infrastructure performance is an attempt to judge how well infrastructure is accomplishing the tasks set for the system or its parts by the society that builds, operates, uses, or is neighbor to that infrastructure. Because infrastructure is largely a public asset or resource, this judgment is typically made in a public setting. Many people are likely to be involved, and reaching consensus can be difficult. Even when one person has dearly defined responsibility for making investment or operating decisions about some element of infrastructure, that person must be prepared for public scrutiny of his or her premises and conclusions. This public scrutiny is sometimes intense. While infrastructure serves essential purposes for everyone, public resistance to location of potentially intrusive facilities can dramatically shift the outcomes of public decision making. The negative response in public forums has been sufficiently frequent and intense that new words for some elements of infrastructure have entered the language, and people speak of NIMBYs and LULUs.5 The challenge the committee faced in this study was to develop a systematic framework for describing, measuring, and assessing infrastructure performance—a framework that can be used by decision makers. In the end, these decision makers include not only the engineers, architects, urban planners, public administrators, elected officials, and other professionals who develop and operate infrastructure but all the citizens, residents, and neighbors who own, use, and otherwise feel the impact of infrastructure.

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Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance Recent legislation and government policy provide a specific context for infrastructure performance assessment. The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-62), characterized by the White House as President Clinton's first step toward "reinventing" government, requires federal agencies to develop strategic plans and annual performance plans and to prepare program performance reports. These plans and reports are intended to hold agencies accountable for achieving program results and generally to enhance the effectiveness of federal programs. In implementing this act, the agencies must adopt "objective" indicators of performance and measures of both "outputs" (e.g., miles of river levees inspected or households relocated in a flood control program) and "outcomes" (e.g., reduced flooding and property losses due to flooding). Executive Order 12983, signed by President Clinton on January 26, 1994, established "Principles for Federal Infrastructure Investment," calling for infrastructure investment and management consistent with "systematic analysis of expected benefits and costs." Benefits and costs are to be quantified and monetized to the extent practicable, considering both market and non-market factors. The order essentially applies economic benefit-cost analysis, traditionally a project-level tool, to federal infrastructure programs. The order applies to "major programs," which are those with annual budgetary resources exceeding $50 million. THE STUDY'S FOCUS AND SCOPE The starting point of this study was the work of the NCPWI, which is embodied in its final report, Fragile Foundations (NCPWI, 1988). The committee's scope was limited from the study's start to the specific modes of infrastructure addressed in that report: highways; mass transit; aviation; water resources; water supply; wastewater; solid waste; and hazardous waste. For much of its discussion, the committee grouped these modes into four broader categories: (1) transportation, including highways, mass transit, and aviation; (2) water, including water resources and water supply; (3) wastewater (both sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff); and (4) municipal waste, including both solid and hazardous wastes. In addition,

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Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance the committee often sought to generalize their discussions, to deal with performance of infrastructure as an integrated, multifunctional system. Other infrastructure modes, such as telecommunications, energy production and distribution, and parks and open space inevitably entered the committee's discussion but are essentially beyond the scope of this report. Many of the principles and recommendations discussed here apply to all infrastructure modes, but their application to these other modes was not explicitly considered. Infrastructure is built and serves regions on many scales, but the committee focused on issues arising from transportation, water, and waste within urban regions. These metropolitan areas account for more than 75 percent of the current U.S. population.6 The organizational context of these issues is primarily local governments, multijurisdictional bodies (e.g., regional councils), and states. Many of the issues of urban infrastructure apply as well to interregional infrastructure (e.g., rural highways, water transmission canals, and pipelines), giving the study's results broader relevance; but such topics as rural access, interstate water and waste transfers, the remediation of sites of toxic chemical and nuclear contamination, and national energy policy are beyond the scope of this report. SEEKING REPRESENTATIVE EXPERIENCE Seeking to ensure that its recommendations on performance measurement would be most useful, the committee visited three metropolitan areas to explore ways in which local officials currently manage their infrastructure and judge its performance. These visits were designed to supplement the committee's review of literature, which included materials prepared by the American Public Works Association (APWA) and others to assist those responsible for infrastructure management,7 and committee members' own experience. The committee considered several factors in selecting the three areas for visits. Some areas offered major projects that were ongoing or recently completed that could provide specific lessons in how decisions are made. Boston's Central Artery and Third Harbor Tunnel, Phoenix's solid waste transfer facility, or Denver's new international airport are among the more widely publicized examples. Some areas, such as cities in the Los Angeles region and along the central Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, were recovering from natural disasters. Economists and geographers have attempted to develop ways to group the 280 metropolitan regions of the United States into a few major classes based on their mixes of industry and population, their urban form, and their political systems.8 Some areas seem particularly representative of these classes and might therefore offer easily transferable lessons. The

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Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance largest, smallest, or otherwise extreme examples of U.S. metropolitan areas were unlikely to be so representative. Some types of economic activity rely more heavily on infrastructure than others. For example, housing must be linked to systems for supply of clean water, removal of wastes, and transportation of people. Manufacturing generally requires transportation as well, often over longer distances and for bulkier manufacturing inputs and finished products. Banking and other service industries rely more on communications. Understanding of the importance of infrastructure performance might be gained by considering a particular industry within the context of a specific geographic area. Such considerations led the committee to adopt three principal criteria for proposing places to be visited: (1) the regions should be representative of the nation's diversity of urban regions and not extreme situations, for example, size and population, area of the country and climate, political structure, and economic structure; (2) each case should present a relatively stable situation for assessment, that is, a situation not influenced by major disasters, natural catastrophes, or other unusual events that would have lasting impact on the normally anticipated pattern of economic growth, stasis, or decline in the region; and (3) someone among the study's committee members, staff, or liaison representatives should have substantial knowledge of the area to provide meaningful guidance and direction as a whole. In addition, local government officials and staff should be willing to support the committee's work, for example, by providing background information, briefing committee members, and participating in discussions related to the committee's work in the region. Finally, the number of visits would necessarily be limited by the resources available for this part of the study. The committee selected three medium-sized cities: Baltimore, Maryland; Portland, Oregon; and Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota (the Twin Cities). The first two were visited to help the committee develop and refine its approach to measuring infrastructure performance. The visit to the Twin Cities was less exploratory, serving as a test of the principles and procedures the committee had previously developed. PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT IN PRACTICE This study focused initially at a project level but was not restricted to that level. While not well defined in professional usage, the term "project" generally implies a specific undertaking with distinct purpose, location, start, and finish. In contrast, programs are typically more general in their definition and give rise to multiple projects. For example, the federal Interstate Highway program provided the major share of funds for construction of the expressways that penetrate and encircle many U.S. urban regions: each such highway may be termed a project.9 It is typically at the

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Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance project level that alternative technologies—for example, for type of pavement or water treatment process—are serious options for decision making. The infrastructure of a metropolitan area is an assemblage of projects. They are built, operated, used, and maintained by an array of private and public institutions. This study's systemwide approach of looking across infrastructure modes (water, transportation, wastewater, solid wastes) to define performance in an urban region runs counter to the typical institutional structure of infrastructure. This institutional structure currently consists largely of organizations concerned with both programs and projects within a single mode. Critics of the nation's infrastructure management cite this arrangement as an obstacle to improved performance of infrastructure as a whole, saying it deters effective thinking about the interactions and tradeoffs among the various modes. Infrastructure operations and management nevertheless are often reasonably coordinated at the local level. City government and utility company personnel can meet frequently to minimize the disruption of one mode by another. The public, however, sees many examples of problems. For example, trenches are cut in newly paved streets to allow water line repairs or electric power and telephone lines are accidently severed by sewer construction. On a broader scale, land developers construct new homes that generate traffic for which connecting highways are inadequate and no transit alternatives are available. One local agency may extend water supply to suburbanizing areas while others lack funds to provide sewerage. At state and federal levels, coordination may be even less effective. Overall, institutional structure in metropolitan areas can be crucial to performance, and no single arrangement of responsibility and authority is likely to be best in all situations. The committee initially felt that its study should accept the current mode-specific institutional structure for infrastructure management as a fixed context within which its recommendations would be made. After discussion the committee agreed that performance improvement can in the short term be achieved only within existing administrative and regulatory structures. In visits to Baltimore, Portland, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, however, the committee saw that a variety of institutional structures are possible and that change can occur when it is warranted. More important the committee agreed that substantial improvements in many areas may require longer-term institutional change to permit truly multijurisdiction and multimodal infrastructure management. Such management is needed, in turn, if infrastructure systems are to achieve their best performance. Institutional structure and performance measurement are both multi-level and inextricably linked, from national and regional programs that shape infrastructure (e.g., the interstate highways or river basin development) to particular projects or parts of a facility (e.g., asphalt concrete

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Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance pavements or flood control levees). Performance at the most detailed level of concern is related ultimately to the higher levels. Decisions made at these various levels have interrelated effects as well, with linkages coming into play through government regulations and standards of practice. The actual design criteria used by designers at the project level, for example, to ensure appropriate skid resistance of a highway's pavement, are not changed from one section of road to the next to optimize the highway's performance, possibly influencing the cost-effectiveness or safety of the larger system. The committee's members were mindful of these various complex linkages in their discussions. Viewed at all levels, however, infrastructure is a valuable system of assets. The system's performance is defined by how well it serves the objectives of this multilevel—that is, local, state, and national—community. Identifying the objectives, assessing performance, making tradeoffs when objectives conflict, and managing the public's assets to improve infrastructure performance occur through an essentially political process involving multiple stakeholders. The people who make decisions about infrastructure development and management are typically elected officials and the senior technical administrators in a region—for example, planning directors and public works directors. This latter group must on the one hand advise elected officials and the public on infrastructure and on the other hand direct the development and operations of infrastructure facilities and services. The committee identified these decision makers as the most likely users of this study's results. For decision makers faced with the challenges of managing infrastructure within such diverse settings, performance measurement is a technical component of the broader task of performance assessment, determining whether infrastructure is meeting the community's objectives. The measurement is an essential first step in effective decision making aimed at achieving improved performance. The committee's challenge was to develop a workable definition of performance and bases for its measurement wherein broad economic, social, environmental, and possibly even political goals can be translated into specific measures and then into standards usable in making decisions about particular infrastructure facilities and operations. The process and framework for performance measurement should help decision makers understand their options and decide not only what facilities are needed to meet society's demands but also how those facilities may best be developed, operated, and maintained. These decision makers are found at all levels of government and the private sector. Drawing on their own experience and their observations during this study, the committee members concluded that there are problems with the way infrastructure performance is measured and managed. Most

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Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance current measurement efforts are undertaken because they are mandated by federal or state governments or as an ad hoc response to a perceived problem or the demands of an impending short-term project. The interactions among infrastructure elements, for example, transportation and wastewater, are seldom explicitly considered and are even less frequently reflected in management policy. Despite the importance of measurement, current practices of measuring comprehensive system performance are generally inadequate to provide a comprehensive basis for effective decision making. The recent changes in federal government policy are intended to improve performance assessment. This study seeks to contribute to this effort in three ways: (1) by developing a process and framework that take a multimodal and systemwide perspective, (2) by limiting assessment to social objectives, and (3) by dealing explicitly with the multiple decision makers and levels of governments involved in infrastructure management. THE REPORT'S STRUCTURE Together with this introduction, Chapter 2 presents the committee's basic definitions of infrastructure performance and how its measurement may be used in managing a metropolitan area's infrastructure. Chapters 3 and 4 present the committee's recommended process and framework for measurement and for using performance measures in decision making. Chapter 4 in particular recommends the dimensions and broad measures of infrastructure performance and suggests examples of specific indicators for the four broad categories of infrastructure included within the study's primary focus. Chapter 5 deals with a number of considerations related to implementing performance-based infrastructure management in a metropolitan area. Chapter 6 summarizes the committee's principal findings and conclusions (indicated in boldface type throughout the report) and its recommendations for measuring and improving infrastructure performance. These chapters outline the actions to be taken to put the committee's performance measurement framework into practice. NOTES 1.   The precise meaning and scope of the term ''infrastructure'' continue to be the subject of discussion (e.g., see NRC 1987, 1993). The committee responsible for this report agreed with earlier NRC studies that "infrastructure" necessarily encompasses both facilities and their operations. Refer to Appendix E. As explained, this report's scope is for the most part limited to the range of modes covered in the work of the National Council on Public Works Improvement (NCPWI, 1988).

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Measuring and Improving Infrastructure Performance 2.   For a full discussion of the FIS program, refer to Framing the Dialogue (USACE, 1993). 3.   The Statement of Task given the committee is presented in Appendix A. Brief biographical sketches of the committee's members and staff are in Appendix B. 4.   As already noted, "infrastructure" encompasses a broad range of facilities and services provided by government and the private sector. The term is often used interchangeably with the narrower "public works" or ''public works infrastructure," which imply government activity, but the private sector plays an important and sometimes dominant role. Refer to Appendix E for definitions of terms the committee uses in this report. 5.   These terms, respectively signifying "Not In My Backyard" and "Locally Unwanted Land Use," are joined by other less widely used acronyms, for example, NOTE ("Not Over There Either!") and NIMTOO ("Not In My Term of Office!'') 6.   While researchers and the U.S. Bureau of the Census strive to develop precise definitions of "urban," "metropolitan," and related terms, unless otherwise noted they are in this study used imprecisely and interchangeably to refer to a city and its subcenters and suburbs. 7.   For example, such guidance manuals as Public Works Management Practices (APWA, 1991) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' National Economic Development Procedures Manual (USACE, 1991). 8.   For example, see Berry and Gillard, 1977. 9.   Whether a particular highway or other infrastructure element is one or several projects is often a matter of context and open to some interpretation.