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Draft Report

Procuring, Managing, and Evaluating the Performance of Contracted TMC Services

Appendix A- Introduction to Performance Measurement

As introduced in Chapter 4, performance measurement allows decisions to be made based on data gathered via a scientific approach.  It employs a methodology where data are gathered to determine progress towards specific objectives that the organization has set.  Using a consistent methodology allows an agency to collect and evaluate information for the purpose of achieving multiple goals, such as increasing efficiency and meeting customer expectations.  Tracking these measurements, both over time and compared to the overall goals, shows agency progress as well as setting accountability criteria for judging and paying on performance-related contracts.  

Performance measurement is not new.  In fact, the formalized evaluation concept first originated in the 1940s and 1950s, with the push for Total Quality Management (TQM).  TQM is a management philosophy which aims to integrate all organizational functions to focus on meeting customer needs and organization objectives.  The roots of TQM were advanced in the United States by Dr. W. Edwards Deming, an American statistician.  Initially, Deming applied his techniques to improve the quality of military products during World War II.  After the war, Deming taught TQM techniques to Japanese industries, most notably the automobile industry.  

Although American industries were somewhat slower to establish TQM programs, over time the concepts have caught on and have been implemented as part of standard business practice.  Perhaps the step that best highlighted the use of performance measurement as a scientific and systematic assessment tool was a benchmark study released by the federal government in 1997 (1).  This study advocated the use of performance management across all federal agencies and provided an overview, best practices summary, and framework to assist in that process.

Application of Performance Measurement to TMCs

The concept of a centralized traffic management system has existed for decades.  Cities such as Houston (1922), Chicago (1926), and Philadelphia (1930) pioneered the use of remote control of the signal equipment at critical intersections across the city.  Later, cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston pioneered the development of a vast network of monitoring capabilities across the urban freeway system which in part allowed for a more rapid response to incidents.  These types of facilities, known collectively as Traffic Management Centers (TMCs), also provided agencies some degree of flexibility in how facilities were operated, as wells as the ability to deal with problems such as increasing congestion, levels of traffic, and significant reconstruction efforts.  

1. “Serving The American Public:  Best Practices in Performance Measurement”  National Performance Review by Vice President Al Gore.  June 1997. http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/npr/library/papers/benchmrk/nprbook.pdf  Accessed July 15, 2009.

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