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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Public Roads - March/April 2004

Training Update

New Course Provides Instruction on Managing Assets

National Highway Institute (NHI)

Today's transportation environment is characterized by high user demand, stretched budgets, declining staff resources, and a system that shows the signs of age. The public has made significant investments in constructing, maintaining, and operating the Nation's highways, and taxpayers expect Federal, State, and local agencies to be responsible stewards of those investments. Decisions about whether to repave a highway or build a new bridge involve a complex web of considerations, including the time horizon, economic and engineering factors, and the existing range of assets. Using increasingly powerful computer systems, agency personnel now can assess the tradeoffs among alternative investment options by performing sophisticated analyses of their assets. By evaluating how they manage their infrastructure, transportation officials can make more informed decisions about future investments.

In 1999, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) established the Office of Asset Management, affirming its commitment to helping the Nation's transportation agencies manage their assets more effectively. To fulfill this commitment, FHWA's National Highway Institute is offering a new course, Transportation Asset Management (#131106). The 1-day course targets senior-level executives and managers from different functional lines and units, such as planning, engineering, capital programming, financial management, maintenance and operations, traffic and safety, system operation and management, and information technology. Instructors will introduce attendees to the concepts and principles of asset management through examples of techniques currently used in transportation agencies.

Instructors used this diagram during the course to reinforce the idea that transporation personnel manage assets to obtain policy goals directives throughout the planning, program delivery, and monitoring processes.

"Asset management enables transportation agencies to fulfill their stewardship role by ensuring a good return on every tax dollar invested in the transportation system by their customers," FHWA Administrator Mary E. Peters noted in her remarks at the pilot offering of the course. "The asset management training course will provide agencies with many useful tools and techniques as they move toward this new way of doing business."

During the course, participants apply lessons from the Transportation Asset Management Guide (NCHRP Project 20-24(11)), recently published by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The guide defines asset management, describes state-of-the-art practices, and provides examples of effective practices in four functional areas: policy development; planning and programming; program delivery; and information, analysis, and performance monitoring. A noteworthy feature is the guide's self-assessment tool, which agencies can use to characterize their existing practices and identify specific opportunities for improvement.

The interactive course combines presentations with class discussions and exercises, including a session devoted specifically to completing and interpreting the results of the self assessment. Participants also take part in an exercise that involves helping a hypothetical State transportation agency allocate resources and manage its assets under budget constraints.

Using the self-assessment tool, exercises, and real-world examples, participants learn how to organize their thoughts on managing assets, structure an agenda for detailed planning, and develop consensus among top-level managers on the strengths of the agency and areas that require improvement.

For further information on the course, visit NHI's Web site at or contact John Taylor at 703–235–0524 or To learn more about transportation-related training courses available from NHI, consult the course catalog at or contact NHI at 4600 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 800, Arlington, VA 22203; 703–235–0500 (phone); or 703–235–0593 (fax). For scheduling, contact Danielle Mathis-Lee at 703–235–0528 or