Organizing for Reliability – Capability Maturity Model Assessment and Implementation Plans
3.0 Summary of Capability by Dimensions
In the following sections, the state of the practice for each of the six dimensions of TSM&O capability is discussed, including general observations, highlights for the key elements within each dimension, key synergisms and TSM&O implementation plan priorities.
3.1 Business Processes Dimension
3.1.1 State of the Practice Findings
Key findings from the workshops for the Business Process dimension are summarized below in terms of key elements of capability.
There are very few statewide TSM&O-specific plans that go beyond ITS and an equally limited number of MPOs with a TSM&O-related plan or budget element. TSM&O planning and budgeting have been largely limited to specific projects or initiatives. In addition, TSM&O as a program has very limited visibility in statewide and MPO comprehensive plans and programs –although valuable guidance is available. Planning initiatives are discouraged by lack of sustainable funding and lack of program status. TSM&O funding is rarely over 2-3 percent of agency total on a multiyear basis. However, newly emerging multijurisdictional applications and new technology applications (integrated corridors, active traffic management, connected vehicles) appear to highlight the need for a systematic planning approach. Consensus indicates that a start-up TSM&O “program plan” is needed with several components, including the basic business case and strategies for dealing with all the CMM dimensions as well as system investment strategies. Workshop participants noted lack of relevant methodologies and the lack of technical capacities.
TSM&O Planning Process
- Plateauing. Many of the state TSM&O activities have “plateaued.” They have completed implementation of conventional freeway management applications and now realize that expanding beyond these conventional applications requires new planning and programming, especially for strategies that involve greater involvement with other stakeholders.
- Types of current TSM&O-related planning efforts. Very few states have incorporated TSM&O as a distinct category of expenditure in their agency comprehensive plans and programs. However, some states have produced separate “plans” for specific applications such as incident management and Integrated Corridor Management.
- Need for a “TSM&O Program Plan.” A TSM&O-specific plan is not required either by Federal regulations or as a matter of standard agency procedure. However, there was widespread support for a specific start-up TSM&O Program Plan, including the business case, performance measures, concepts of operations, procedures/protocols, and organizational, staffing and collaboration needs – as well applications priorities.
- TSM&O element in statewide planning. TSM&O has not achieved the status of a formal “program” within the statewide planning process, either as an investment category or as an alternative to certain capacity improvements. However, a few MPOs have distinct TSM&O plan elements and have included them in their metropolitan plans.
- Key capabilities and methodologies needed – pilot approach. Agency TSM&O staff lack both a planning background and relevant planning tools and methods. At the same time agency planning staff lack a TSM&O background. In several workshops, Strategic Highway Safety Plans were identified as a relevant model. Several agencies are using corridor programs as the template for the development of needed approaches.
- TSM&O programming and budgeting. Most TSM&O funding for specific projects is ad hoc and intermittent. Funding is inhibited by TSM&O’s lack of program status and agency resource constraints and thereby leads to fragmented implementation, difficulty addressing lifecycle costs, and vulnerability (elimination from programs when cost reductions are necessary).
- Level of investment. Few State DOT managers know what resources are being invested in TSM&O or how current investments might relate to more cost-effective use of scarce DOT resources. The absence of a plan-based TSM&O program and related multiyear budget reduces the ability of TSM&O to compete for these resources.
- Accommodating the project development process. TSM&O projects have special requirements (systems engineering, concepts of operations, types of procurement, systems integration/deployment needs, and special contracting requirements) that make them difficult to accommodate in the conventional project development process. Procurement of advanced technology systems is presenting a special challenge.
3.1.2 Metropolitan/Regional Planning Organization Roles
Workshop locations did not include any of the few regions that have prepared TSM&O-related plans. However, the larger workshop MPOs conduct a Congestion Management Process, and several have allocated Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) funds under their control for signal upgrades and coordination, and sponsored/managed incident management training for their local transportation and public safety members.
TSM&O Business Processes are especially dependent on capabilities in other dimensions: on systems engineering to identify concepts of operations required for planning and programming; on organization and staffing for relationships between planning and TSM&O staff; and, on performance measurement for the setting of objectives and progress measurement. All these relationships are often collaborative in nature.
3.1.4 State DOT and Regional Implementation Plan Priorities
The leading participant-suggested implementation plan priorities in Business Processes focus on developing and communicating a regional/statewide “TSM&O Program Plan” and integrating TSM&O into statewide long-range plans and transportation improvement programs. See the appendix for the complete list of suggested implementation plan priority actions for the Business Processes dimension.
3.2 Systems and Technology Dimension
3.2.1 State of the Practice Findings
Key findings from the workshops for the Systems and Technology dimension are summarized below in terms of key elements of capability.
Systems development is consistently well-understood. Statewide and/or regional ITS architectures or concepts of operations usually exist (typically following FHWA guidance), although they are often more than a few years old and need updating or better documentation. New applications involving arterial operations and Integrated Corridor Management require new architectures and concepts; keeping up-to-date with rapidly advancing technologies is a challenge. Many states rely on private consultants to supply this expertise. Separate State departments of Information Technology (IT) are seen as a significant barrier to efficient procurement of new systems with low bid constraints and inappropriate State standards. Interoperability is often a problem with regard to both data and voice communications, with cost a major barrier to improvements in the latter. This is especially a concern in multijurisdictional environments.
- Regional and statewide ITS architecture documents and use. All workshop states have some kind of an ITS architecture (either statewide or regional) consistent with Federal standards and the National ITS Architecture, although they were often acknowledged as needing updating. However, the use of the architecture for project planning or procurement varied widely. The importance of concepts of operations was also widely understood for its importance in identifying appropriate roles and relationships for each TSM&O application.
Project Systems Engineering/Testing and Validation
- Improve awareness and training. The systems engineering process was generally employed by State DOTs and MPOs for ITS projects, following the guidance provided in the National Architecture program and requirements of using the systems engineering process, in place since 1998. However staff turnover results in significant training gaps regarding exposure to FHWA training opportunities. State DOT rotational training programs typically do not include a slot for ITS or TSM&O assignments. With staff turnover and/or expansion, and with new technologies entering Transportation Management Centers (TMC), lack of staff capabilities was noted as a serious challenge. Some of these challenges are being met by an increased level of outsourcing of technical responsibilities to the private sector, especially within TMCs.
- Procurement challenges. Oftentimes States noted that purchasing ITS hardware is often subject to State IT procurement procedures, which often were felt to be inappropriate to the special characteristics of ITS infrastructure and systems and software – as well as being lengthy, bureaucratic, and unresponsive to technology lifecycles. In addition, standard State procurement approaches (low bid, security issues) were noted as not aligning with specific ITS or TSM&O requirements. Where ITS infrastructure was embedded in other construction projects, the cost pressures and lack of staff influence also were noted as challenges to advancing ITS procurements.
- Keeping pace. Workshop participants identified the challenge of keeping pace with rapidly evolving technology and the difficulties this creates, such as obsolescence of deployed equipment, outdated specifications, legacy equipment incompatibility with newer equipment, incompatibility with deployed software, and maintenance capabilities. There were also a wide range of issues associated with keeping up with maintenance of equipment, including learning to maintain new technology while maintaining older deployed technology when vendors move on to newer and more advanced equipment.
- Interoperability. Many State DOTs have made interoperability of systems a priority for both field and central system hardware and software operations. There is a reluctance to upgrade large legacy systems when they are incompatible with newer equipment. Interoperability is often a special issue for systems maintained by various agencies within a region, such as voice and data communications between a DOT and public safety agency or transit agency’s computer-aided dispatch system.
- Standards. Workshop participants are aware of the necessity of updating standards regularly to stay on the forefront of quickly evolving technologies, with interoperability as the motivating goal. Reorienting standards away from technical specifics to functional requirements has allowed for an improved ability to keep pace with technology, and open standards has allowed for more flexibility in procurements. Participants noted the challenge of accessing resources, guidance, and peer interaction to maintain their knowledge of evolving standards.
- Documentation. Concepts of operations and project architecture documentation were not consistently produced, except for larger, complex projects or where Federal funding requirements necessitated preparing them. In many cases, existing material lacks important information components such as cost elements, performance requirements, and evaluation. Ad hoc approaches to system implementation, with limited documentation, were oftentimes still employed, thereby holding back the success of agencies’ programs.
- Approved vendor product lists. Agencies find that having qualified (pre-certified) product lists facilitates purchasing ITS elements and can reduce the time needed to acquire products. The challenge of having (and continually maintaining and updating) specifications for field equipment was cited in several workshops.
- Arterial systems experience. Most State DOTs have considerable experience with freeway management systems. State involvement with arterial operations is more varied. Some State DOT traffic engineering units are administratively separate from freeway management. An increased focus on arterial operations and integrated corridors are creating new systems integration challenges within TMCs, with a focus on developing plans and institutionalizing TSM&O freeway and arterial applications and performance guidelines.
Central to the Systems and Technology dimension are Business Processes and planning documents such as the statewide architecture and concepts of operations associated with technology projects. Links to the Organization and Staffing dimension were identified due to the need for additional systems engineering and other technical training. Collaboration has strong linkages, with the need for coordination with many stakeholders a core element in the systems engineering process.
3.2.3 State DOT and Regional Implementation Plan Priorities
The leading participant-suggested action included in TSM&O implementation plans for Systems and Technology related to the need to work with State IT agencies regarding the special technical requirements of ITS – including appropriate standards, specifications, procurement processes, vendor lists, and general streamlining of approaches – possibly through forming joint working groups. In addition, most workshop participants recognized the need to update and document their existing systems architectures – and to take a more formal systems engineering approach to new TSM&O applications with multijurisdictional and/or new technology challenges. See the appendix for the complete list of suggested implementation plan priority actions for the Systems and Technology dimension.
3.3 Performance Measurement Dimension
3.3.1 State of the Practice Findings
Key findings from the workshops for the Performance Measurement dimension are summarized below in terms of key elements of capability.
Most agencies are conscious of the need to measure operational performance and aware of impending MAP‑21 requirements. Many agencies have defined measures, but are struggling with accessing relevant data and creating appropriate analytics. Existing measures are largely output oriented. There is little development of customer-focused outcome measures and agency staff noted lack of guidance and examples. There is limited accountability for operational performance beyond visible agency performance in major incidents/weather events, and few agencies use measures to manage improvements. Participants noted that private sector data and the potential of connected vehicle systems were important new sources of “big data” and increasing awareness of these relationships must be part of an ongoing dialogue.
- Policy visibility of performance. Most States are conscious of the impending requirements of MAP‑21, and performance measures are much discussed in professional circles. All workshop locations were at least in the stage of producing operations performance measures and most had started to compile them, with the vast majority being related to Transportation Incident Management (TIM), probably because of the availability of data from incident management logs and the focus on TIM programs and strategies that is emerging across the country.
- Performance measure definition. Lack of consensus over performance measure definitions where multiple agencies are involved – such as incident management – is sometimes problematic. State DOTs and public safety agencies may hold themselves to different standards regarding the stages in incident management and this can be a special problem for State DOTs that are dependent on law enforcement Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) data.
- Input, output, and outcome measures. A few agencies have defined outcome as well as output measures, but the need for guidance and standardization of outcome was cited by several agencies. Creating outcome measures is impeded by limitations on the availability and integration of multisource data. At least two agencies identified the need to track assets (“input” performance measures) in addition to outputs and outcomes. A few agencies noted a disconnect between operations units and planning units in terms of performance measures, i.e., different measures are used.
- Resources for performance measurement. Obtaining funding for performance measurement is a challenge for some agencies although several have established an agency-wide unit in response to the performance measurement requirements of MAP‑21 that is considering adding TSM&O measures.
- Existing in-house data availability. Data availability varies. Some TSM&O units collect and “own” TIM data while others are dependent on emergency responder CAD systems. Freeway detector data also are widely available and used by some agencies to create congestion statistics. Work zones are usually overseen by other units which often have their own processes.
- Outsourcing. Private vendor vehicle probe data are becoming more widely available, not only to meet MAP‑21 requirements but also to fill in gaps where detectors do not exist.
- Internal utilization. Incident management and snow and ice control – with high visibility – are the two areas where performance data are used for operational management. Many States collect and report basic incident data, and some conduct after-action review of incidents that are supported by the data. However, only a few make routine use of the data to modify incident management programs. Traveler information program performance (e.g., web site hits and variable message sign messages posted) also was noted by several areas. Agencies also are struggling to decipher how to use performance measures in the decisionmaking process regarding problem identification and resource allocation.
- External reporting. Production of periodic performance reports was the most common use of performance measures – largely output data on external (web site) dashboards. Incident characteristics were by far the most frequent subject of performance reports. Travel time (congestion) reports and service patrol feedback were far less common.
- Management accountability. Accountability for TSM&O program performance is in the early stages. Several States have incident clearance targets but conduct reviews only when the target (often 90 minutes) is exceeded. There were no instances described in workshops where State DOT units were subject to performance reviews in this regard.
- Comprehensive performance management program. No agency has achieved a fully integrated performance measurement system that links inputs, outputs, outcomes, and targets into a formal TSM&O performance management process. Agency staff are aware of the importance of outcome measures to making the business case for TSM&O to decision makers and the public, but they have made very limited progress in considering the data and analytics related to outcome measures such as travel time, reliability, and safety.
- Outsourcing of outcome measures. Private sector probe data is seen by many States as a way of obtaining useful performance analyses. It appears that the need for progress in this area has inhibited staff from making the business case for TSM&O benefits on either a standalone or alternative investment basis. Several States are in the early stages of identifying outcome measures and acquiring probe data to support them. State DOTs with extensive toll operations are capitalizing on tags as probes. A number of States and regions recognize the need to focus on Performance Measurement for arterial operations, although data availability is an obstacle.
- Use of performance measures in business case materials. Only a few agencies have prepared a TSM&O strategic plan that identifies TSM&O goals and objectives and establishes performance measures that track progress towards them. Several agencies cited a need for guidance on conducting before/after evaluations of operations projects and cited the lack of guidance documents of any kind.
Performance Measurement is especially interactive with the Business Processes and Collaboration dimensions. The Business Processes dimension should be used to define the Performance Measurement framework. This should be an ongoing process, not a single undertaking or a one-way link. Performance Measurement itself should evolve along with the other dimensions as more is learned about what types of measurement are needed. The Collaboration dimension is significant in that Performance Measurement needs to be consistent across departments and agencies. Collaboration is important to Performance Measurement in that it can “break down silos” of related but uncoordinated activities.
3.3.3 State DOT and Regional Implementation Plan Priorities
The leading participant-suggested implementation plan priorities in Performance Measurement focus on: creating a comprehensive performance measurement system (definitions and measures, related data and analytics targets); promoting operations in traditional planning and programming processes; and, using this material to create a communication strategy for describing the benefits of TSM&O to upper management and the public. See the appendix for the complete list of suggested implementation plan priority actions for the Performance Measurement dimension.
3.4 Culture Dimension
3.4.1 State of the Practice Findings
Key findings from the workshops for the Culture dimension are summarized below in terms of key elements of capability.
The legacy culture of State DOTs is civil engineering with a capital project orientation. While most agencies have accepted the notion that it is not possible to “build our way out of congestion,” the business case for TSM&O is not completely understood, although a few agencies have begun to incorporate operational objectives into their formal policy. This same situation was reported at the metropolitan level. TSM&O is just beginning to be considered for formal “program” status with its own line item budget and top level representation in executive leadership. Lack of this status appears to reduce the presence of TSM&O in the resource allocation process. Generally, time demands associated with other priorities have limited executive leadership interest/visibility in TSM&O – with a few notable examples that have spurred significant program improvement. However, new technology is raising the profile of operations as well as public expectations.
Technical Understanding and Business Case
- Legacy culture. The primary orientation of most State DOTs remains the delivery of capital projects that dominate agency policy, program, and public communications. While some individual TSM&O strategies are well understood by non-TSM&O staff and management, the concept of TSM&O as a multi-activity, coordinated “program” is just beginning to evolve in most agencies.
- Making the TSM&O business case and external reinforcement. It is increasingly recognized that is not possible to “build our way out of congestion,” highlighting the business case for the unique payoffs from highly cost-effective TSM&O solutions and new technology. This case has often been demonstrated by the significant TSM&O needs required to respond to agency challenges involving major events both planned and unplanned (e.g., large-scale crashes or weather crises). National activities by FHWA, SHRP 2, and AASHTO have also increased the visibility of TSM&O. Broad understanding of the business case appears to be a key precondition to securing a clear role for TSM&O within a State DOT’s program.
- Top management and middle management champions. By and large, TSM&O lacks formal State DOT “program” status. With a few exceptions, top management has not provided substantial visibility for TSM&O. As a result, the momentum of TSM&O programs substantially depends on middle management “champions,” who are committed to improving TSM&O and who exercise persuasion and “intra-preneurship” within their agencies.
Outreach – Internal and External
- Internal outreach. Non-TSM&O State DOT staff with some level of involvement in specific TSM&O strategies (e.g., maintenance and safety staff who respond to incidents and weather outcomes) have an understanding of TSM&O. Staff with less day-to-day contact, such as design, planning, and project development staff who have major programming influence, are less likely to include TSM&O considerations in their activities.
- External outreach. Continuous and targeted outreach among partners and stakeholders appears essential, especially to MPOs and local government leaders (who are largely focused on capital projects of interest to their constituencies) and even with public safety agency partners, reminding them of the business case related to maximizing mobility as part of their mission through agreements, co-training, and other collaborative activities.
- TSM&O in agency policy. TSM&O is rarely a separate first-level division equivalent to project development and maintenance. This status detracts from the ability for TSM&O to compete for management, staff, and financial resources. It also limits organizational accountability for systems’ operational performance.
- Legal authorities. Most States have obtained the necessary statutory authority for such measures as Quick Clearance, Move It, and emergency access use of shoulders. But given public safety agencies’ incident command authority, State DOTs must aggressively collaborate to promote the importance of mobility through Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) and co-training with their partners.
- Funding constraints. TSM&O is rarely supported by a dedicated multiyear budget determined as part of a top-level resource allocation. Funding is ad hoc and unpredictable. Some States even have legal constraints on the use of State funds for TSM&O activities. While information on level of investment in TSM&O is not typically compiled or available, workshop material suggest 1-3 percent of total agency budget is typical.
- Roles of public vs. private sector. Staffing limitations and the need for special technical expertise associated with new technology have led to a substantial level of outsourcing to consultant organizations or contracted staff, especially for planning, systems engineering, data acquisition/analytics, TMC staffing, and device maintenance. The reliance on outsourcing stimulated workshop discussion on the broader issue of what “core” functions and capabilities should be retained in-house.
TSM&O Culture is closely related to and synergistic with other dimensions of capability, especially Performance Measurement required to support a “culture of performance.” The Culture dimension is interdependent with Collaboration because its success is dependent on interagency cooperation. For the agency as a whole, changes in the dimension of Organization and Staffing often are needed to support an operational culture.
3.4.3 State DOT and Regional Implementation Plan Priorities
Most States included some aspect of Culture in their implementation plans. The two highest priorities were preparing a TSM&O business case, together with a campaign to increase its level of awareness, understanding and support, both internally and externally. See the appendix for the complete list of suggested implementation plan priority actions for the Culture dimension.
3.5 Organization and Staffing Dimension
3.5.1 State of the Practice Findings
Key findings from the workshops for the Organization and Staffing dimension are summarized below in terms of key elements of capability.
TSM&O activity managers are typically two to three levels down in headquarters and in regions, often stovepiped into distinct engineering and operations units, and typically report to senior managers who have multiple programmatic responsibilities. Program initiatives are therefore heavily dependent on middle management champions, rather than formal organization. A few states are establishing more consolidated organizational structures with clear lines of authority/reporting but vary widely in how functions are allocated between headquarters and district offices. TSM&O staffs are very small and trained on-the-job, as formal training opportunities are not generally available (FHWA National Traffic Incident Management Responder Training is a notable exception). Some core technical capacities are difficult to recruit and retain, which appears to be leading to increased outsourcing of more technical functions to private entities.
- TSM&O organized as a program. In State DOTs, TSM&O typically has not yet been accorded formal program status equivalent to legacy programs: construction, project development, maintenance, or safety. This subsidiary status is reflected in agency organizational structure at both the headquarters and district/regional level as well as in agency policy, planning, and budgeting. While TSM&O ultimately needs to be integrated into a wide range of agency activities, the consensus from most workshops has been that given its early stage of maturity, TSM&O should be established as a program with a separate and more visible identity.
- TSM&O in the DOT hierarchy. At the headquarters level, the highest level of TSM&O program management is typically at a branch level three to four levels down from top leadership and part of one of the conventional legacy programs. A similar situation exists at the district and regional level, where TSM&O activity managers typically report to the district managers of operations or maintenance. Workshop participants noted that this subsidiary status limits the representation of TSM&O in overall agency staffing and budgeting considerations.
- Centralization/decentralization. Most TSM&O applications are real-time and delivered with or by TMCs at the regional level reporting to district management, while TSM&O program development and administrative functions are typically handled in headquarters. As a result (especially in larger states) local operations managers report some communications problems and confusion in chain of command related to TSM&O program development and operations.
- Siloing and responsibility versus authority. In many State DOTs, TSM&O duties are often siloed between engineering/project development units and system operations/management units (including TMCs), thereby separating systems and technology improvement from real-time systems management, with no single senior manager with full time responsibility for all aspects.
- Reorganization. In several states, pressures for agency-wide efficiency combined with increasing understanding of TSM&O synergies have led to considerable consolidation of TSM&O-related units and clarified reporting relationships, although stopping short of creating a new top-level division.
- Staffing levels. The overwhelming reality in most State DOTs is staff hiring freezes or even reductions in force. Workshop participants indicated that staffing constraints undercut ability and initiative for expanding and/or improving TSM&O programs because they require additional staff resources.
- Champion dependency. TSM&O activities are typically reliant on a small, dedicated, hard-working staff, often energized by one or more highly committed individuals who are able to overcome lack of formal authority or dedicated resources through knowledge of the agency, strong personal relationships and personal persuasiveness. However, such informal leadership is fragile and subject to retirements or reassignments that can significantly undercut the momentum and priority of TSM&O initiatives.
- Core capacities, mentoring, and succession. Most of the TSM&O staff has come from other parts of the agency, especially from traffic engineering, maintenance, or safety. Few staff members have significant systems engineering, information systems, or performance management backgrounds – or capabilities relevant to newer applications such as connected vehicles. Workshop discussion reflected an increasing recognition of the need for specialized technical and managerial staff capacities to sustain an effective TSM&O program, including improving relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). In addition, there is rarely a formal approach to mentoring or succession planning. There were several instances where departure of key staff left holes in agency capacity.
- Training. Formal in-house training with a TSM&O focus is limited, supplied largely through FHWA-based programs that have provided important onsite training. Related association activities have also provided some training. Many of the relevant KSAs are acquired via on-the-job training. While most State DOTs offer support for technical training and coursework, this opportunity has limited impact due to the lack of training curricula or university courses specifically focused on TSM&O.
- Outsourcing.The lack of specialized staff capacity and slot limitations encourage the outsourcing of activities that require special technical expertise, such as planning, systems engineering, data management, and device maintenance, to private technology and service suppliers, especially where the need for expertise is episodic. Most workshop States outsource two or more activities and several outsource five or six – sometimes managed by different units within the agency. Uniform performance management of outsourced activities is becoming a challenge.
Recruitment and Retention
- Recruitment and retention. Most State DOT TSM&O staff comes from within the agencies, transferring from other units. The hiring processes, internal staff job preferences, relative compensation and union constraints appear to discourage external hires. Hiring staff with background in key technical specialties is especially difficult. At the same time, some States report retention challenges as younger staff (Millennials) value career flexibility and varied opportunities over long-term institutional career commitments, especially if they have obtained levels of technical skills of value in the private sector.
- Career attractiveness. With very few exceptions, TSM&O is not seen as part of the traditional career track to senior DOT management, where senior roles historically have been rooted in engineering and planning and district or division management. Furthermore, TSM&O brings with it a lifestyle at odds with the 9-to-5 office culture – including 24x7 availability, rapid response, improvising solutions, and working extensively with outside collaborators, all without any special recognition in grade level or compensation. State DOTs report entry level staff with relevant technical backgrounds often use department employment as a stepping stone to more lucrative and mobile career options, especially in the private sector.
The Organization and Staffing dimension is synergistic with other dimensions of capability. The agency Culture dimension is extremely influential in terms of top management support for organization and staffing improvements and the need for external Collaboration. At the same time, the process dimensions (Systems and Technology, Business Processes, and Performance Measurement) are all dependent on both efficient organizational structure and staff capabilities.
3.5.3 State DOT and Regional Implementation Plan Priorities
Most States included some aspect of Organization and Staffing in their implementation plans to improve agency capability. The two highest priorities were organizational consolidation of related units and the creation of TSM&O staffing plans, potentially including identification of core staff capacities, position descriptions, and succession plans. Several agencies had undertaken some degree of recent reorganization. See the appendix for the complete list of suggested implementation plan priority actions for the Organization and Staffing dimension.
3.6 Collaboration Dimension
3.6.1 State of the Practice Findings
Key findings from the workshops for the Collaboration dimension are summarized below in terms of key elements of capability.
Agencies recognize the criticality of external collaboration to several TSM&O strategies. Some formal MOUs with other public sector agencies have been negotiated, especially for TIM, but interagency collaboration is still substantially informal and based on personal relationships, which are sensitive to staff turnover. Key challenges in collaboration include the definitions of common performance objectives and relative capacity and resources of partner entities. Co-training is beginning to have a positive effect. Outsourcing to private entities is becoming increasingly used for the more technical functions.
Public Safety Agency Collaboration
- Leading from behind. In some cases, State DOTs find themselves needing to take the initiative in raising awareness among their application delivery partners (especially with public safety agencies) about the mobility aspects of incident response and through promoting cooperative activities such as MOUs, co-training, and after-event debriefings.
- Building collaboration habits from major events and more complex applications. The experience in coping with significant crashes, major weather emergencies, and planned special events, where extensive collaboration is essential to public safety, often spotlights issues that need to be addressed in routine procedures and organizational changes. A focus on Integrated Corridor Management and greater emphasis on public agency performance measurement is spurring a greater focus on interagency collaboration.
- Challenges with smaller local governments and rural areas. Multijurisdictional regions with many local agencies (sometimes including limited operating hours and volunteer staff) present special challenges to establishing interoperability, common procedures, real-time coordination, and co-training.
- Championing. Collaborative activities such as interagency teams are often informal and based on individual TSM&O staff member “champions” for “outreach” and regular person-to-person reinforcement. This type of collaboration is, however, vulnerable to staff turnover.
- Formal agreements and resource sharing. Stimulated by the FHWA-sponsored National Traffic Incident Management Responder Training, more than one-half of the States indicated that they have formal MOUs with public safety agencies. These are often reinforced by collocation and innovative funding arrangements such as incentive payments.
- Cooperative use of performance measurement and data. Collaboration between State DOTs and their public safety partners on performance measure definition, analytics, and their routine use was largely absent. In most workshop locations, after-action debriefings were confined to major incidents, and secondary incidents were rarely addressed.
Metropolitan Planning Organization/Regional Transportation Planning Agency/Local Government Collaboration
- Collaborative planning and operations. In a few instances, MPOs have taken the initiative by creating a TSM&O regional plan and program, often building on their Congestion Management Process and using technical committees as a method for coordination and collaboration. Operational collaboration is increasing in two specific application areas: contracting to MPOs for arterial signal improvements and maintenance; and Integrated Corridor Management programs.
- Outsourcing. State DOTs are outsourcing an increasing number of the more “technical” TSM&O functions, including systems planning and engineering, TMC staffing, ITS device maintenance, traveler information program development, and project delivery. Expansion of outsourcing is introducing its own set of management challenges and opportunities related to procurement, contract management, standardization, performance-based oversight, and use of incentives.
TSM&O Collaboration is especially dependent on capabilities in the Culture dimension for supporting institutionalization of interagency working relationships. The Collaboration dimension itself is critical to other TSM&O dimensions requiring both internal and external close working relationships with Systems and Technology and Business Processes.
3.6.3 State DOT and Regional Implementation Plan Priorities
The leading participant-suggested implementation plan priorities in Collaboration focused on establishing a forum and/or formal agreements to support better interagency relationships especially in incident management, including greater focus on reliability performance measurement. See the appendix for the complete list of suggested implementation plan priority actions for the Collaboration dimension.