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Over a period spanning two decades, an increasing number of state DOTs have adopted large- scale performance measurement initiatives. Despite a growing body of evidence that suggests per- formance management helps DOTs do their jobs better, some agenciesâ performance programs fail to take root while the programs of others have grown and flourished. This chapter offers suggestions on how to create enduring and successful performance management programs. Why do some DOTsâ performance programs falter? The answers are complex, but the follow- ing themes appear to be frequent contributing factors: â¢ The CEO dominates performance initiative then departs. A DOTsâ performance management programs are often initiated and championed by the CEO. When the CEO leaves, the DOTâs pro- gram may flounder without its perceived champion, particularly if the CEOâs tenure was too short to overcome entrenched institutional bias against measurement. â¢ The performance program gets siloed in the DOT. A DOTâs performance measure program may be pigeon-holed as the responsibility of a particular staff team within the DOT rather than an agencywide tool to help everyone do their jobs better. In this scenario, managers across the DOT do not become engaged in using performance measures beyond periodic reporting of data and the program loses relevance as a decision-making tool. Though staff support from a perfor- mance management office can help ensure that regular reporting is possible, these individuals should not âownâ performance at the agency. â¢ Measurement is driven by the wrong balance between external mandates and internal DOT priorities. Some DOTsâ performance measures are created in response to state legislative mandates. They never transform from routine data collection exercises into fully fledged per- formance management programs that truly impact decision-making. â¢ External audiences are not part of the performance program. A DOTâs performance manage- ment program may not reach important external audiences, such as the state legislature or key stakeholder groups like the business community and advocacy groups. When external audi- ences are not engaged, performance management may be taken less seriously by DOT staff that sees no accountability. â¢ Managers resist changes to their decision-making authority. DOT performance management programs are often resisted strongly by managers in the organization. In many DOTs, there is a persistent culture that enjoys making subjective and/or political decisions. Performance mea- sures are often seen as a threat because they will limit their flexibility. A DOTâs performance management program should be crafted to withstand profound changes such as new leadership or a shift in policy focus that can make it difficult to sustain program momentum. For agencies embarking on a new performance management program or seeking ways to sustain their program, the keys to a performance management success are a strong focus on institutionalizing and engaging all of the managers at a DOT, working with stakeholders, and communicating. 37 C H A P T E R 6 Sustain Performance Management by Building Constituencies
6.0 Senior Management Must Work to Institutionalize Performance Management Performance management is often spearheaded by a CEO or senior manager who seeks to solve serious agencywide management challenges, such as shrinking a credibility gap with the public, reducing persistent project cost overruns, or reversing deteriorating bridge conditions. As noted in Section 3.1., strong senior management leadership is usually vital to a fledgling performance programâs success, but DOTs sometimes find that the senior management leadership can also âbrandâ a performance management program with its championâs identity. As a result, an incom- ing leader may be tempted to make his or her administrative mark by charting a course away from performance management. DOTs that have successfully carried performance management for- ward across administration changes report an ability to institutionalize performance management in several ways: Ensure senior career DOT managers share a leadership stake in perfor- mance management. A strong leader may be tempted to retain tight control over the agencyâs performance measurement program. In the longer term, however, sharing performance management leadership responsibilities among key career DOT staff, particularly those with key roles such as the chief engineer, is vital to engendering widespread staff support for the program and continu- ity beyond a single leader. (See sidebar for Missouri DOTâs approach.) This approach blends high-level leadership from a CEO with the genuine support from one or more career status managers who act as performance measurement champions. These are well-respected individuals with a long tenure at the DOT who understand the business of the agency and can help keep performance measurement focused despite inevitable shifts in top-level leadership. Transform performance management from a leadership style to a practi- cal tool. Predictable performance reporting schedules, frequent and regular discussion of results, standard formats for sharing data, and clear identification of staff responsibilities are all techniques that help transform performance measures from a persuasive but transitory management style to a permanent tool. Some state DOTs are finding that by using these techniques, performance management is becoming accepted as another valuable utilityâlike Computer- Aided Design (CAD) for engineers or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for plannersâfor managing the agency. In this type of environment, managers can build a case for continuing to use performance measures regardless of a change in leadership because performance management is an essential tool. At the Ohio DOT, for example, the agencyâs pavement perform- ance measures have continued to guide infrastructure preservation investment decisions over a change in leadership. Remain âpolicy neutral.â In any state government, the impact of politics on decision-making is unavoidable. Particularly when new administrations take charge, agencies may experience fun- damental changes to their established practices: priorities change, high-level officials leave and are replaced, and philosophies about the role and responsibility of the agency shift. In order for per- formance management to withstand these transitions and political upheavals, it is crucial to main- tain a policy-neutral process. This means that the performance-based decision-making process should be flexible enough to accommodate fundamental changes in policy without favoring one over another. Examples of policy shifts include reprioritizing preservation versus capacity expan- sion; shifting the funding balance between highways and transit; moving towards more or less cen- tralized control over decision-making; or significant across-the-board increases or reductions in agency funding levels. An example of success in maintaining policy neutrality comes from Pennsylvania, where a results-driven approach to strategic planning has been in place since the early 1980s, surviving five different governors and three switches in the governing political party. 38 Transportation Performance Management: Insight from Practitioners Missouri DOTâs Executive Leader- ship PledgeâExecutive staff at the Missouri DOT (MoDOT) are expected to sign a U.S. Constitution-style value statement that attests to their willingness to participate in performance man- agement at the agency. While the MoDOT has seen some attrition among its senior managers in recent years, possibly because they reacted unfavorably to a new performance culture, executive staff is committed to using per- formance measures to continually try to improve the agency.
6.1 Ensure Many DOT Managers and Employees Are Involved in Performance Management DOTs often rely on a small performance measurement work unit to perform day-to-day performance management functions and to act as a point-of-focus for the agencyâs overall activities. Such an office, however, may run the risk of creating a perception among other DOT staff that performance is not their responsibility. Most successful performance management programs build on bold leadership by engaging the next tier of leaders at the DOT to act as ambas- sadors and champions to the agencyâs entire staff. Without this kind of engage- ment, a performance program is unlikely to outlast its leader. Find ways to use performance measures in lower tiers of the agency. Ideally, every manager and their staff in a DOTânot just the agencyâs CEOâ should be charged with finding ways to use performance results in decision- making. This helps institutionalize performance measures across a broad range of functions from human resources to maintenance, and their use by a wide variety of managers to support decision-making on a regular basis helps build the credibility of performance management as a tool. Not every decision need necessarily roll up to the most senior levels of the agency. At the Washington State DOT, for example, maintenance engineers are using data on maintenance performance parameters such as striping condition to help predict budgetary needs and manage maintenance workloads, while planners are using conges- tion data to select and prioritize urban projects. Work with labor unions to foster support for performance manage- ment. Unions have a potentially powerful role in maintaining a culture of performance at a DOT because of their longevity and influence over rank- and-file agency employees. The Quality Service through Partnership program at the Ohio DOT is a collaboration between labor and management that was driven by the concern of increased outsourcing of DOT responsibilities. It is now included in the collective bargaining agreement and has helped perfor- mance measures survive multiple administrations. Ensure that staff members are trained in performance management. Performance management typically represents a fundamental change in how agencies conduct their day-to-day business. It also requires familiarity with data and analysis tools that may be unfamiliar to many DOT staff. As an agency implements a program, it is often useful to provide thorough training to all staff. When the Ohio DOT implemented its Total Quality Management (TQM) program, every member of the DOT staff received training. This helped reinforce for staff that this was how the DOT wanted to do business and provided them with the tools to implement TQM and performance man- agement in their day-to-day activities. 6.2 Use Performance Management to Build Bridges with State Legislators Many state DOTs have developed performance management or measurement efforts in response to legislative mandates although a few have taken on performance management of their own initiative. However a program is established, DOTs usually find the state legislature to be an important audience for their performance results. Involvement by the state legislature in a DOTâs performance management program can, however, be a double-edged sword. Some DOTs have Sustain Performance Management by Building Constituencies 39 The Indiana DOTâs (INDOT) per- formance management program is on its third administration, without major changes. The INDOT has worked to document everything (measures, how they are calculated, how they can be used) so that it is easy for new administrations to see the value. When a new administration begins, performance measure- ment programs have been framed as a resource for the new managementâe.g., here is all of this great information that you can use to help identify and solve problems. Kansas DOTâs Performance Hierarchy for Engaging ManagersâTo engage its man- agers more effectively, the Kansas DOT is implementing a hierarchy of staff responsibilities for per- formance measures. Executive staff at the Division Director-level are charged with being âchampi- onsâ for particular performance focus areas. They have the respon- sibility to ensure that a strategic direction is set to improve per- formance. Key senior managers have the responsibility under the Division Directors to lead day-to- day implementation of measure- ment activities. And multidisci- plinary teams are used to provide support in each focus area.
struggled to meet unwieldy performance mandates imposed by their state legis- latures. Other DOTs, meanwhile, have found that an in-house performance management program can be an important tool for improving their relation- ship with the state legislature. In particular, some DOTs are finding success in convincing their legislatures to rely on performance data as they make funding decisions that affect transportation. Keys to working successfully with legislators on performance management are described in the following paragraphs. Work with legislatures to develop flexible parameters for performance measurement. Because of growing interest in performance management as a tool to improve agency results, many agencies have had parameters for per- formance imposed on them by legislatures. Often, these requirements are prescriptiveâdetailing specific measures, targets, and reporting requirements that may be inconsistent with the needs of DOT management and may tie the agencyâs hands in making improvements to the system. Some agencies, such as the DOTs in Maryland and Louisiana, have overcome this problem through overlapping sets of performance measuresâone to satisfy external requirements and one for internal management purposes. While this approach works, it increases the complexity of a DOTâs performance measurement framework, requires duplication of effort, and can create confusion as to which is the right plan. DOTs should work with legislatures to integrate external and internal performance management systems to limit the addi- tional burden on agency employees to collect and report data. As DOTs invest in the data and analysis tools that are the foundation for a successful perfor- mance management system, they develop new and better measures, improved methodologies to establish targets, and other improvements. Initiating an effort before mandates are imposed can increase the likelihood of having a flexible set of regulations. Further, the reporting of performance over time can help build trust between the executive and legislative branches and lead to greater flexibility for the DOT. Have a vision for communicating performance management information. State DOTs dif- fer greatly regarding their methods and frequency of performance reporting, but agencies that have built effective relationships with their state legislatures tend to pay close attention to how they communicate performance information. From the Virginia DOTâs publicly accessible web âdashboardsâ that are updated on a frequent basis to Washington State DOTâs quarterly âper- formance journalismâ reports, states are finding ways to translate complex performance issues to nontechnical audiences. As a consequence, state legislators have begun to expect performance information and are using it in their deliberations. Engagement with state legislature may increase longevity of performance management pro- gram. If a state legislature is regularly engaged in performance management reporting and uses this information to make decisions, both the legislature and the DOT can benefit. The DOT finds a new way to communicate needs, and the state legislature achieves greater accountability. In these cir- cumstances, the long-term prospects for continued use of performance management may increase. 6.3 Make Performance Management Efforts Visible to the Public The best DOT performance management programs usually have both internal and external audiences. In these programs, performance results are discussed internally at management meet- ings, but they are also presented publicly in regular reports. The external audiences for these 40 Transportation Performance Management: Insight from Practitioners Florida DOTâFlorida sustains its performance management pro- gram for areas like maintenance by codifying the requirements into state law. DOT officials have found this to be a positive, not a nega- tive, because it makes clear where the stateâs priorities lie, including preservation, maintenance, and promotion of the stateâs Strategic Intermodal System. The Florida DOT is monitored externally by the Florida Transportation Commission (FTC). The FTC serves as an external over- sight board that examines perfor- mance data and makes policy recommendations. Commissioners are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state senate.
results can include business groups, legislators, the public, and advocacy groups. High external visibility helps hold DOT managers accountable and creates anticipation for results among key stakeholder groups. Publish performance results regularly in print and on the web. To ensure the program will be sustained through leadership transitions, make perfor- mance data meaningful and regularly available to external customers who will come to depend on it and expect it. Primarily, this means regularly publishing data on the web and in print. Providing transparency to the public can help create demand for data-driven decision-making and make the public more sophisticated consumers of performance data Use a hierarchical approach for selecting high visibility measures. A hier- archical approach for organizing measures helps DOTs reach internal and external audiences effectively. At the top of the hierarchy are a handful of strate- gic performance measures on which senior management focuses its attention and that are of interest to customers. These measures are supported by a num- ber of mid-level tactical measures, and below them is an array of lower-level operational measures. When reporting of a top-tier measure raises concerns, investigating lower-level measures may identify contributing causes. Hold audiences accountable for the impact of their decisions. Where resource allocation decisions are made in the legislature, performance mea- sures can be used to hold politicians accountable and show the impact of those decisions. Information readily available for public consumption can help keep the focus on decisions being made by governments that are not supported by the data and analysis presented by the DOT. Sustain Performance Management by Building Constituencies 41 The Washington State DOT pub- lishes performance information tailored to the consumer and pub- lishes reports at specific, recurring times, such as during the annual budgeting process. As a result, legislators have begun to expect the data. The Virginia DOT publishes per- formance data on the web as part of a dashboard that provides quick access to key performance statistics and the ability for anyone to drill down into specific performance areas. The existence and use of the online dashboard by many parties has helped ensure its longevity.