The SACOG Project Performance Assessment Tool : shaping the research agenda

Date

2019-06-20

Authors

Smith, Kyle Robert

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Abstract

Performance measurement plays a crucial role in regional transportation planning. It can provide a framework through which decision makers and the general public can assess the current and forecasted performance of proposed transportation investments in light of regional goals. Recent federal legislation under the FAST Act has prompted a renewed emphasis on performance measurement in regional transportation planning agencies throughout the country. Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are the statutorily obligated entities responsible for regional transportation planning in the United States. As a result, MPOs throughout the country are working to strengthen their performance based planning processes. Although a growing number of MPOs are implementing performance measures, very few include economic vitality measures in their project selection and prioritization processes. The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) serves as the MPO for the California Capitol region and is actively working to include performance measuress in regional planning processes. As part of that effort, SACOG began implementing a Project Performance Assessment (PPA) Tool that includes project-level assessment of economic performance to support project selection and prioritization in the 2018 Flexible Funding Round. Funding Rounds are the primary mechanism in which SACOG uses to allocate transportation investments. As SACOG gains experience with its PPA Tool, it continues to work to tailor the tools performance measures for identifying proposed transportation projects that best support regional goals. In the context of these ongoing PPA Tool refinements, this report examines potential performance measures that SACOG could feasibly incorporate into the tool to assess long-term economic benefit within the region, recognizing the importance of sustaining its urban, suburban, and rural economies. First, I will examine how SACOG uses the PPA tool to allocate funds within the Regional Program of the 2018 Funding Round in order to better understand the current use of performance measurement in project level decision making. Second, I identify the landscape of economic performance measures identified in previous literature, as well as those currently being implemented in MPOs around the country and evaluate performance measures based on six previously identified properties of good performance measures. Good performance measures should have the following characteristics: (1) they must be appropriate and reflect identified goals or objectives; (2) they must be measurable in an objective manner; (3) they should capture the appropriate information to enable comparisons spatial or temporal dimensions; (4) they should be realistic and implementable without excessive effort, cost, or time; (5) they must be defensible and provide clear and concise information to decision making processes, and; (6) they must be forecastable to determine reliable future levels of performance using available data and tools. Finally, this report identifies a series of performance measures that could be included future iterations of the PPA Tool. Specifically, identified performance measures can be used to better inform decision makers and the general public of the potential economic impacts of specific transportation investments

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