Background—Problem Statement
During the Interstate-building era, state department of transportation (DOT) program delivery functions were fairly straightforward. For the most part, state agencies worked with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to plan facilities, determine funding needs, and set construction schedules. Projects were developed and constructed on a pay-as-you-go basis; FHWA reimbursed states for 80 to 95 percent of project costs; budgeting focused on ensuring federal funding did not lapse; and large cash balances, cost overruns, or project delays while not uncommon were not considered a major problem.
State DOT program delivery has become much more complex in recent years. Today, DOT managers face new challenges and requirements with respect to 1) delivering projects on time and on budget, 2) distributing funding efficiently and equitably, 3) developing projects in a manner that protects the physical and social environment. 4) managing (and leveraging) resources as efficiently and effectively as possible, and 5) including other agencies, interest groups, and the public in project prioritization and funding decisions. With these new challenges, it is no great surprise that states are having difficulty programming, budgeting, and administering realistic, politically viable, and financially constrained transportation programs.
Effective program delivery is achieved through the establishment of sound policies and procedures that address the management of projects throughout the project and program delivery process. It is a state of practice that transcends individual project phases and provides a continuum of sound management throughout the life of a project—and a transportation program. There is a wide variation, however, in the management approaches, systems, and tools being deployed by state departments of transportation. While some states are known for use of highly integrated approaches, many still rely on informal and fairly unstructured methods.
There are a number of driving forces to the increasing importance of more systematic approaches to program delivery. These include forces, or influences, within each of four broad program function areas, as follows:
• Identifying Priorities—While states have always faced constrained funding, the constraints are even more profound today. States also are being held to a higher standard of accuracy in what they promise, requiring that they more carefully prioritize program needs and actions.
• Obtaining Resources—New revenue sources, finance mechanisms, and grant management techniques require more sophisticated market analysis and greater knowledge of their flexibilities, restrictions, and long-term program implications. With the anticipated advent of new techniques, knowledge of these approaches will become even more critical.AASHTO EPD-1 pdf download.