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CSS Measurement Program Framework

A CSS performance measurement framework boils down to finding the right balance across two simple parameters, 1) measurement of project-level versus organization-wide factors, and 2) measurement of processes versus outcomes. With so many "moving parts" involved in applying CSS principles to project development, questions of who measures what, and when may seem overwhelming. A simple set of parameters for understanding what to measure helps bring clarity to this complex topic. Whether a DOT is considering a handful of measures or dozens, a CSS performance measurement framework boils down to finding the right balance across two simple parameters, 1) measurement of project-level versus organization-wide factors, and 2) measurement of processes versus outcomes:

Balance Between Project (Micro) and Organization (Macro)-level Measures.
Application of CSS principles is rooted in how individual projects are planned, designed, built, and maintained. At a micro-scale, measures can be developed for one, or sometimes many projects and are tracked by project managers and project teams usually at key project milestones. Some measures may apply across all projects, others may be scaled to use on individual projects, and others may only be applicable on some projects. Results are generally most helpful to individual project teams and stakeholders involved in those projects, but may also provide valuable lessons for future projects.
Macro-level, organization-wide measures provide a complement to tailored project measures. They offer insights on organization-wide trends that cannot be captured through micro-level measures implemented on individual projects. Successful CSS implementation will require organizational changes such as revised project development manuals, agency-wide training initiatives, and project management strategies. Performance measures can help address these issues or may address other organizational functions such as an agency's budget, culture, skill sets, or system outcomes. Many organizational measures may be tracked on a regular schedule, such as quarterly or annually. Organizational-level measures may be of greatest interest to senior managers and a broad group of stakeholders external to the DOT.

Balance Between Process and Outcome-level Measures. NCHRP Report 480 guides practitioners to think about CSS as a mix of "processes" and "outcomes" this mindset has great validity for performance measurement too. On the process side, open, early and continuous communication with all stakeholders; multi-disciplinary input; and tailored public involvement that incorporates consensus-building are all processes that help DOTs integrate CSS into planning, designing, building, and maintaining transportation systems. Processes can and should be a major measurement focus because many elements of CSS-related processes can be measured in a timely fashion, without imposing unrealistic staff burdens, yet are closely linked to CSS policy goals. Achieving CSS means generating project outcomes that reflect community values, are sensitive to scenic, aesthetic, historic and natural resources, and are safe and financially feasible. As states adopt CSS principles and complete projects that use those principles, outcomes can also be measured; they may require a greater investment in collection of new data and are often harder to track over time.
As a practical matter, DOTs are likely to focus more on processes as they begin measurement activities and work towards comprehensive consideration of outcomes as they gain expertise with CSS performance measurement and expand the number of projects on which a CSS approach is used. Agencies should ideally seek a balance between both categories.

External Links:

More Information: www.trb.org/publications/nchrp/nchrp_w69.pdf



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