Editor's Note: Steve Winkelman, director of transportation and adaptation programs at the Center for Clean Air Policy and a contributor to this blog, is providing this week's question.
Performance measurement is fundamental to ensure that transportation policy and funding achieves desired policy outcomes. This week we will discuss the transition to performance-based transportation policy:
• How to develop effective and practical performance measures?
• What data, resources and institutional changes will be needed?
I think we can all agree that we want to get our money's worth from federal transportation investments and that trying to optimize investments across multiple policy goals is challenging. Accountability for outcomes is seen as critical, but it's a frightening prospect to some (who believe they cannot or should not meet the national goals).
I see three important reasons for measuring performance: 1) to establish baselines, 2) to measure progress toward policy goals, and 3) to inform funding allocation.
When used to inform funding allocations, performance measures must be flexible enough to allow goals to be met in a variety of ways tailored to the unique characteristics of the community or region, yet rigorous enough that they truly measure the desired outcomes and cannot be circumvented either deliberately or unknowingly.
Performance measures can be defined as absolute levels, relative levels, trends and/or on a per capita basis. Measure definition will depend in part upon how national goals are defined. While we all have different priority weightings of national policy goals, I expect that they are likely to include the economy, accessibility/mobility, safety/reliability and energy/environment.
I invite you all to share your thoughts on the merits of specific formulations for measuring various policy outcomes.
-- Steve Winkelman