Benchmarking and Comparative Measurement for Effective Performance Management by Transportation Agencies

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Standing Committee on Performance Management (SCOPM) serves as AASHTO members’ technical and policy resource on transportation performance management issues. SCOPM, working with the larger transportation performance community, has established an ongoing “research roadmap” process for identifying high-priority research needs and mobilizing resources to perform the needed research, disseminate research results, and facilitate adoption of these results in management practice aimed at improving the performance of our transportation system. Transportation system performance is a multidimensional concept, encompassing such diverse areas as safety, infrastructure condition, traffic congestion, air pollution emissions, and more. Systems performance is the concern of a diverse set of agencies that operate at all levels of government; with varied spans of responsibilities across transportation modes; and within the context of specific laws, regulations, and public priorities of the geographic and political regions where they operate. These agencies increasingly are pressed to report statistics publicly on performance of the systems for which they are responsible, but there are few if any commonly applicable definitions, criteria, or standards for how system performance is to be measured. While work by National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) and others has demonstrated that comparisons of performance across agencies and systems can be a valuable management tool, reported statistics often are erroneously used to create “best-to-worst” rankings among agencies or systems that are not truly comparable, using data that are not truly consistent. While cooperative research and national legislation have produced significant advances nationally in performance measurement and management, much remains to be done to apply performance measurement effectively across all system components and all affected agencies. Benchmarking—comparison of one’s performance with that of peers—has been successfully applied in many fields as a tool for assessing system performance, communicating about system performance with a broad stakeholder audience, and supporting performance management. Using benchmarking entails selecting peers that may appropriately be compared, comparing appropriate aspects of their performance (both outcomes and significant management practices), and using the comparisons to assist in identifying what are and how to achieve desirable levels of performance.  Research is needed to advance practices of effective benchmarking of transportation system performance and effective application of benchmarking for performance management by responsible agencies. The objectives of this project are (a) to develop practical guidance on how transportation agencies can undertake and use benchmarking to inform and improve system performance management practices and (b) to demonstrate examples applying the guidance in two specific applications, for non-motorized transportation and for environmental aspects of system performance. The research should build on prior work by NCHRP and others, produce guidance compatible with performance measurement and management requirements specified in current federal legislation, and be presented in formats that facilitate usage by the range of responsible agencies. The research should consider all transportation agencies—at state, regional, metropolitan, local, or other jurisdictional levels.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-118

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Lemer, Andrew

  • Performing Organizations:

    High Street Consulting Group

    6937 Blenheim Court
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  United States  15208
  • Principal Investigators:

    Crossett, Joe

  • Start Date: 20170308
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 40855

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01599007
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-118
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 12 2016 1:00AM