USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

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

Public Roads - November/December 2013

November/December 2013
Issue No:
Vol. 77 No. 3
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Training Update

Managing Assets Under MAP-21

In 1999, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) created the Office of Asset Management to advance the state of the practice in managing highway assets. Asset management is a business practice that adds transparency to a portion of an organization’s overall transportation program. This data-driven, risk-based, performance-oriented approach enables State departments of transportation (DOTs) to maintain their physical assets in a state of good repair on a long-term basis.

The U.S. Government recently recognized the value of asset management by the passage of the most recent highway legislation, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). One of the most notable requirements of this legislation is the development of risk-based transportation asset management plans. Specifically, MAP-21 requires States to submit the processes used to develop their State asset management plans to FHWA for certification in 2015. This will fundamentally change the way most DOTs assess their existing and future pavement and bridge assets.

MAP-21 and Its Impact

MAP-21 requires every State to develop and implement an asset management plan. These plans must include objectives and measures, identification of performance gaps, life-cycle cost and risk management analyses, a financial plan, and investment strategies. As FHWA moves forward with implementing MAP-21 and continues to focus on the performance of highway networks, asset management plans will be critical to the success of preserving the Nation’s transportation assets and minimizing their whole-life costs.

The creation of a transportation asset management plan can heavily influence a State DOT’s business plan. Development of a plan relies on data derived from pavement and bridge management systems, and information on other physical assets. This condition information is used in conjunction with engineering, economic, and risk analyses to examine the whole life of a highway network. The results of these examinations lead to strategies that State DOTs employ as guidelines for future developments. Although this process is focused on State DOTs, local governments also can use information on transportation asset management.

Advancing Asset Management Practice

The FHWA Office of Asset Management has a number of activities underway to provide State DOTs and others information on asset management and development of their plans. The FHWA “Asset Management” Web site,, includes information on training, links to webinars and reports, and sample work plans. Further, this office is conducting a pilot project pertaining to the development of asset management plans.

DOTs use the principles of asset management to optimize the performance and cost-effectiveness of transportation facilities, including bridges, such as the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge located at the Hoover Dam between Arizona and Nevada.

Developing Educational Resources

In addition to the resources on the Web site, FHWA’s Office of Asset Management and the National Highway Institute (NHI) have developed a series of training courses to assist transportation professionals in developing strategic, risk-based asset management plans. NHI courses provide participants with the necessary tools to develop a transportation asset management plan that complies with MAP-21 and meets the needs of their respective organizations.

“FHWA and the Office of Asset Management have put together this series of trainings to raise awareness and understanding of the key principles, policies, and practices for both Federal and State transportation officials,” says Butch Wlaschin, director of the Office of Asset Management. “These classes, along with various webinars, regional summits, and workshops, will smooth the transition into the performance-based program and ensure that we are able to meet the requirements of MAP-21.”

NHI course 131106 Introduction to Transportation Asset Management contains modules that cover the basics of asset management plans, including asset management principles, performance measures, long-term financial planning, risk assessment, and implementation. This course also is offered with a half-day workshop (course 131106A), which enables States to discuss the results of a self-assessment used to identify gaps between an agency’s desired and actual use of asset management principles. NHI’s course 131106B Development of a Transportation Asset Management Plan and course 131106C Introduction to a Transportation Asset Management Plan (Web-based) were created to help States meet the MAP-21 requirements for development of transportation asset management plans.

Encouraging Organizational Communication

The training series discusses the asset management framework and the intent of MAP-21, and clearly describes the requirements put in place by the legislation. During instruction, participants are expected to work collaboratively to understand the principles of transportation asset management. “We feel this training is especially important for State DOTs to bring the organization together and clarify the issues,” says Stephen Gaj, leader of the asset management team in FHWA’s Office of Asset Management.

The course series enables State DOT employees to analyze current business practices and compare them with recommended asset management principles and processes. The communication and planning for future investment fostered during the courses, particularly through exercises in economic and long-term analyses, create a synergy that can be carried through the process of creating transportation asset management plans in each State.

These courses are beneficial to participants at all levels, especially those in leadership roles, to ensure that everyone within the organization has a solid foundation in asset management principles and access to the most current practices and guidance.

For further information on any of the courses, please visit NHI’s Web site at