Support for Successful Transportation Asset Management
Managing transportation assets—for example, roads and bridges—is essential to maintaining the Nation’s vitality. Transportation asset management is a strategic approach for managing physical transportation infrastructure, which results in effective management and greater cost-effectiveness. Using quality data is key to driving decision making that focuses on achieving and sustaining a desired state of good repair over the life cycle of assets.
To help transportation agencies provide reliable and transparent management practices and excellent customer services with a diminishing pool of resources, the National Highway Institute (NHI) offers an array of training solutions. Recently, NHI made updates and additions to its series of trainings on transportation asset management. Whether an agency is focusing on meeting current requirements or planning for future enhancements and implementation, NHI has a new or recently updated course to help.
Tools for Effective Management
NHI updated two instructor-led courses in late 2017 to reflect the asset management rule (23 CFR part 515). The new rule established the process and minimum requirements to develop a State’s asset management plan.
Introduction to Transportation Asset Management with Workshop (course number 136106A), is a basic course that covers the principles of transportation asset management in 1.5 days. Participants explore the core questions every agency should be able to answer about its assets. Course content includes a summary of specific provisions related to asset management and a tool for agencies to use to identify gaps between their desired and actual use of the principles of transportation asset management.
The other 1.5-day training in this series is Developing a Transportation Asset Management Plan (course number 136106B). Participants learn to use the transportation asset management plan as an effective planning, communication, and accountability tool. The course includes the latest guidance from the Federal Highway Administration on risk management, life-cycle planning, and financial planning. Course content focuses on core areas of financial management, strategic life-cycle management, and risk assessment. (This course requires completion of course number 136106C as a prerequisite and completion or equivalent knowledge of material covered in 136106A.)
Throughout both courses, participants apply what they have learned by working through real-life scenarios that enhance their ability to support and implement transportation asset management in their agencies.
Both trainings are intended for mid-level and senior-level managers from State departments of transportation and other transportation agencies that are responsible for decision making in one or more areas addressed by transportation asset management. Personnel who manage individual assets or provide critical information to senior managers, or who have direct responsibility for meeting specific condition targets for highway infrastructure assets, will find these trainings applicable as well. Members of an agency’s asset management steering committee (if available) also would be candidates for these training events.
The courses are most beneficial to an agency when participants represent a broad range of organizational units, such as planning, engineering (facility management, design, and construction), capital programming, maintenance and operations, financial management, traffic and safety engineering, system operation and management, and information technology.
Supplementing the updated instructor-led courses is a free, 1-hour, Web-based training that explains the basics of a transportation asset management plan, Introduction to a Transportation Asset Management Plan (136106C). The course offers foundational information, such as how a transportation agency uses a transportation asset management plan and what kind of information is included in one. This course is available on its own, and it also serves as the prerequisite for instructor-led course 136106B.
Drafting a Financial Plan
NHI added two new courses to its asset management catalog in 2017: Introduction to Financial Planning for Transportation Asset Management (Web-based course number 136002A) and Financial Planning for Transportation Asset Management (instructor-led course number 136002). In the free, hour-long introductory course, 135002A, participants build foundational knowledge by exploring financial planning in the context of transportation asset management and by reviewing common vocabulary and background information. This Web-based training is recommended for transportation professionals who are involved with, or interested in, developing a financial plan. The Web-based training also serves as a prerequisite to the in-depth, application-based instructor-led course, Financial Planning for Transportation Asset Management (course number 136002).
“Financial plans provide an excellent opportunity for agencies to demonstrate to constituents that they are responsibly managing their transportation assets,” says Nastaran Saadatmand, FHWA’s asset management expert and technical leader during the course development. “Agencies with a mature asset management program also can use the financial plan to demonstrate how current and future funding gaps or inadequate funding to support a strong preventive maintenance program could negatively influence the value of transportation assets and long-term assetperformance.”
A facilitator leads the Financial Planning for Transportation Asset Management class (136002) through the key content areas of a financial plan. Over the course of 1.5 days, small groups explore approaches to developing a financial plan and generate a plan outline that includes each content area. The groups identify gaps that could reduce the plan’s effectiveness and identify the next steps their agency must take to fully develop the financial plan. The instructor evaluates the teams’ financial plan outlines. Participants leave the classroom with a useful work product that they can further develop and use in their agency’s financial planning process.
This training is recommended for anyone involved with developing the financial plan, including chief financial officers, asset managers, program managers, financial managers, maintenance directors, planners, and their staff. While titles and roles vary from agency to agency, staff involved in developing a financial plan generally consist of engineers, planners, analysts, accountants, auditors, and data managers. Participants may include staff from one transportation agency or could include a blend of State and regional participants from metropolitan planning organizations or rural planning organizations.
Identifying and Managing Risk
Managing transportation networks—including agency management, program development, and project delivery—is extremely complex and fraught with uncertainty. Any agency can use risk management as FHWA does: to focus limited resources, to strengthen its ability to prioritize, to improve communication, and to foster transparent leadership.
Risk Management (136065) is a course for agency professionals who direct or manage any aspect of highway-related programs and projects, such as planning, environment, project development, design, construction, operations, maintenance, and finance. Asset management practitioners will find the Risk Management course content helpful as they develop asset management plans. No previous risk management experience is required to enroll in or benefit from this course. This recently updated 2-day, instructor-led training delves into the principles, tools, and techniques used to identify, prioritize, respond to, and monitor risk at any level of an organization (enterprise, program, project, or activity).
This training is based on FHWA’s generally accepted risk management principles and practices. It combines limited instructor presentations with robust group discussions and multiple realistic, job-relevant exercises that help participants identify risk, develop risk response strategies, and apply the risk management process to their own level of decision making within the organization. Assigned teams work on agency-specified objectives and leave class with tools for identifying, prioritizing, and responding to risk, including a partially completed risk register template that they can use as a basis for risk management in their current positions.
For more information on these courses, to register for a session, or to sign up to receive alerts when sessions are scheduled, visit www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov and search by course number.
Judy Francis is a contracted marketing analyst for NHI.
Vanessa Almony is a contracted instructional designer for NHI.