Recent political and social trends have placed greater emphasis on public-sector accountability and cost effective performance improvement. In response, transportation agencies have become increasingly focused on performance-based planning. In addition, there is significant momentum towards a nationwide performance-based transportation program. While these details are still in flux, there is a growing appreciation for the benefits of performance-based planning for individual agencies, regardless of what happens at the national level.
Cambridge Systematics is at the forefront of performance-based planning. We are helping to drive the agenda at the national level, and have worked with several agencies to develop and implement customized approaches.
- Performance measure programs. Performance measures are a fundamental building block for any performance management effort. Cambridge Systematics works with agencies to design custom performance measures that 1) reflect agencies policies and priorities, 2) are feasible to calculate with existing data, and 3) support specific decision processes. We also work with agencies to implement the measures through broader performance management programs. Examples include incorporating measures and targets into the long range planning process, developing internal performance monitoring programs, and designing performance reports for external audiences.
- Tradeoff analysis. Tradeoff analysis enables agencies to make informed decisions about allocating resources to program areas and to set performance targets. For example, how much money should be allocated to preserving the existing system versus expanding it? What performance level can be achieved with this split? Cambridge Systematics has developed a framework for conducting tradeoff analysis, and helped a number of agencies implement it as part of the planning process.
- Project prioritization. Most transportation agencies have more needs than funding. Therefore, they must make tough decisions regarding which projects to fund. Cambridge Systematics has developed an approach that helps agencies make these decisions in a data-driven and transparent manner. The approach combines benefit/cost analysis with an assessment of how well each project supports agency goals and objectives. The intent of our approach is not to create a purely mechanical system, devoid of public input and policy decisions. Rather it is intended to support and integrate with an agency’s overall planning and programming process.
- Decision support tools. The techniques described above are only possible with data and decision support tools. Cambridge Systematics understands the potential for and limitations of information technologies resources to support the planning process. We are familiar with (and have developed) a number of agency-specific tools. In addition, we can augment these home grown capabilities with national tools that rely solely on national data sets, which all agencies have at their disposal. The overall intent of this work is to better leverage existing data and tools in order to make better transportation decisions.
Why Cambridge Systematics
Cambridge Systematics has more than 35 years of experience working with transportation agencies to implement performance-based planning techniques. We are playing a leading role in establishing the national agenda in this area. For example, we recently prepared and facilitated a National Forum on Performance-Based Planning and Programming in Dallas, Texas. This event was planned jointly by American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO), American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) with participation by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The Forum was the first time these groups, and the agencies they represent, came together to discuss performance-based planning. We also have worked with numerous agencies to develop customized performance-based programs that meet their specific needs.
Learn how you can integrate performance measures into the planning process.