U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
It is becoming increasingly essential in the United States for transportation agencies at all levels of government to demonstrate credibility with elected officials and the public. The U.S. Congress is considering a performance-based transportation financing program that may require States and metropolitan planning organizations to document their accomplishments and results on a set of nationally and/ or regionally established goals. Although many transportation agencies use performance management (PM) programs, the programs and approaches can differ significantly. Also, in many cases, PM programs are not explicitly tied to national and State budgets or national strategic goals.
The purpose of this scan is to conduct indepth reviews of how transportation agencies in other countries apply transparent and accountable PM programs to budgets and budget requests at the national, state, provincial, metropolitan, or local levels. The scan also seeks to identify examples of how transportation budgets and programs directly link to accomplishment of national, provincial, and local strategic goals.
Performance measurement. For this study, the scan team used the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) definition of performance measurement as "the ongoing monitoring and reporting of program accomplishments, particularly progress toward preestablished goals." The GAO defines a program as "any activity, project, function, or policy that has an identifiable purpose or set of objectives." A "performance measure" is defined by the Federal Highway Administration as "a qualitative or quantitative measure of outcomes, outputs, efficiency, or cost-effectiveness. In general, measures should be related to an organization's mission and programs, and should not merely measure one-time or short-term activities."
Performance management. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials defines PM as an ongoing process that translates strategic goals into relevant and detailed measures and targets that, along with resources, are continuously monitored to ensure achievement of published institutional goals. Comprehensive performance management uses the definition just described in all key functions of a transport agency, including policy development and long-range planning; programming and budgeting; program, project, and service delivery; system operation; and monitoring and reporting of results in a variety of forms to a variety of audiences.
A major objective of this study is to examine examples in which national, state, or provincial strategic goals are translated into meaningful performance measures for the transportation agency. We want to examine practices in which the transportation agency uses those measures to document its achievement of society's transportation goals.
Another important objective of this scan is to identify ways to establish effective and achievable performance levels based on input from the public, elected officials, and the business community. We seek examples of how to set performance goals at the proper level–not just easily achievable goals.
Another important purpose of this scan is to find examples of tying performance and transparency to national and state, provincial, and metropolitan budgets. Many transportation officials in the United States believe it has become essential for their transportation agencies to demonstrate credibility with elected officials and the public, which may lead to sustained or increased funding for transportation. We also want to understand if budget or investment decisions between programs or geographic areas have been affected by the use of performance measures.
We are seeking ways transportation agencies can demonstrate good governance and accountability in meeting or exceeding performance expectations. We also want to understand how accountability is achieved.
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