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Measuring Improvements in the Movement of Highway and Intermodal Freight

Measuring Improvements in the Movement of Highway and Intermodal Freight

Introduction

Background and Purpose

The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993 established a requirement for Federal agencies to identify goals and measurable outcomes to gauge performance in meeting program objectives. In response to this requirement and in seeking to continually advance its own performance, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has developed a National Strategic Plan to chart goals and objectives over the ten-year period, 1998 to 2008. The agency is also developing annual Performance Plans in connection with the its budget submittals to define and report on the performance goals and indicators  that measure progress toward achieving strategic goals.

In developing its performance plans, FHWA has sought to develop performance measures for productivity and efficiency improvements in relation to the highway system. “Productivity” is one of the five strategic goals in FHWA’s National Strategic Plan, with a target to “continuously improve the economic efficiency of the Nation's transportation system to enhance America's position in the global economy.” An efficient and productive transportation system is viewed as important for advancing America’s economic growth and competitiveness domestically and internationally.

FHWA is interested in development of performance measures for freight. Highway freight movement is a key area of program responsibility for FHWA, and the agency needs indicators to assess progress toward the “productivity” goal in relation to freight movement. FHWA contracted with Hagler Bailly Services to provide a limited, introductory review of what indicators may be available for use by FHWA to detect and assess, on an annual basis, productivity and efficiency improvements in the movement of commercial goods by motor vehicles. This work involved two tasks:

Task 1: A Review and Assessment of Previous Efforts to Develop Indicators

This task involved a summary and assessment of previous efforts to develop indicators for highway and intermodal freight. Indicators developed in previous studies were identified and categorized into four groups based on their potential usefulness for FHWA: 1) potentially valuable (first-tier) indicators; 2) second-tier indicators; 3) corridor or facility measures; and 4) not-useful measures.

Task 2: An Initial Analysis of Potential Indicators

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