Bipartisan Policy Center Report Offers Recommendations for Using Performance to Drive Transportation Investment

I’ve written before about how many suggest that future funding for transportation could and should be based on performance measures (see here and here). Now the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Transportation Policy Project is just out with a new report that offers their recommendations on how to incorporate them into the decision-making process.

The NTPP report, entitled “Performance Driven: Achieving Wiser Investment in Transportation” is a follow-up to a 2009 report called “Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy.” The new report proposes a restructured framework for federal transportation spending that better addresses core national interests identified in the 2009 report. Those national interests include: economic growth, national connectivity, metropolitan accessibility, energy security/environmental protection and safety.

The proposed new framework seeks to make the existing federal surface transportation program more performance-based by recommending several strategies:

  • Having Congress define a short, focused set of national goals;
  • Putting greater emphasis on managing and preserving existing assets;
  • Shifting funding to national connectivity priorities, including freight and rural connectivity;
  • Establishing performance bonuses based on meeting specific measurable criteria;
  • Creating a more robust, outcome-oriented and well-funded planning program; and
  • Eliminating programs that lack a specific national purpose.

In addition, the report emphasizes greater leveraging of state, local and private funding for transportation. To that end, it recommends a program designed to support, promote and reward the development of sustainable revenue flows. The NTPP also calls for a restructuring of existing funding match requirements and a reduction in federal restrictions and requirements.

Finally, the NTPP’s new framework for federal transportation spending would consolidate numerous federal programs down to just 10: asset management, metropolitan accessibility, freight transportation improvement, safety improvement, federal transportation, rural connectivity, federal support for supplemental revenue, state and metropolitan planning, data/research/education and essential access.

In addition to the NTPP report itself, you can read a sampling of opinion on "merit-based funding" of transportation on the National Journal Transportation Experts Blog this week.