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