Research of Effectiveness of Performance Management as a Program

Status: Candidate    
Potential Funding Sources: NCHRP 20-24    
Timeframe: Mid-Term
Research Period: 15 months
Funding Estimate: $175,000
Potential Sponsors:

This research will help guide the next generation of performance managements by measuring and comparing the efficacy of the first generation of PM programs.


An evolution of performance management initiatives that began more than half a century ago in Japanese, American, and other private industries as quality assurance and quality control programs has now worked its way into federal law in the United States. Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) contains more than 100 instances of the word ‘performance,’ expanding from prior federal transportation authorization of the reporting and management requirements of state agencies.
Now three years after adoption (as of July 2015), how effective has performance management been as a program for transportation agencies? Is performance management driving the intended result?

Research Objectives

This research accepts that performance management is and will remain a federal requirement in how state and local transportation agencies conduct business. With the working assumption that most agencies will meet the minimum rules requirements, this research seeks to help guide the next generation of performance managers in part by measuring the effectiveness of the first generation. Specifically, it will:
1. Examine and compare early implementers of MAP-21 performance reporting and monitoring requirements to determine what, if any, tangible improvements have been made to organization performance as measured within the seven national performance areas, and other areas as practical.
2. Recommend existing performance management practices for broader implementation and propose new practices for state DOT or other agency consideration.

Proposed Research

1. Define the baseline framework of a state DOT performance management program under MAP-21, as implemented rather than as mandated by legislation.
2. Find at least three state DOTs that have mostly followed that framework for at least the past three years. Compare how they have implemented performance management.
a. Organizational structure and support
b. Reporting and monitoring practices
c. Rewards and penalties
d. Reliance on Six Sigma, Lean, or other established programs
e. Communication
3. Conduct a SWOT analysis of that baseline framework, noting at least the top three strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
4. Highlight three industries – at least one from private sector manufacturing and one from private sector service – renowned for performance management programs.
a. Detail their measurements of effectiveness.
b. Highlight elements of manufacturing and of service most applicable to transportation agencies.
5. Note keys to success and largest barriers to implementation such as agency culture or capacity.
6. Recommend how a second generation of performance management in United States public sector transportation might improve effectiveness on the first generation, including a comparison with the renowned practices from private industry.

Potential Benefits

As demands on transportation agencies have grown without a corresponding increase to revenues and resources, effectively managing constrained funding has become more critical. One might argue that communicating the effectiveness of that management is equally critical.
The results of this research will help demonstrate how state and local transportation agencies have used best practices in performance management to both improve operational effectiveness and articulate those successes to their stakeholders. But perhaps more beneficially, the research should recommend how future generations of these programs focus resources to achieved desired performance improvement outcomes.

Implementation and Follow-on Activities

This research should be part of a rolling effort to assess Performance Management Programs as agencies’ efforts mature and as potential changes to requirements are made.

Related Research

• The federal government has dedicated the Office of Performance Management to improving organizational effectiveness in the accomplishment of agency mission and goals. It offers an abundance of reference materials.
• NCHRP offers several studies on performance management including
– NCHRP 551, Performance Measures and Targets for Transportation Asset Management
– NCHRP 660, Transportation Performance Management: Insight from Practitioners.
• The International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management regularly publish articles relevant to the public sector.
• An enormous body of work exists outside transportation from authors such as Porter, Drucker, Covey, and Gladwell.
Note: Check on FHWA cost-benefit analysis of the NPRM of evaluation effectiveness