The purpose of Transportation Asset Management (TAM) is straightforward: to maximize benefits of a transportation program to its customers and users, based on well-defined goals and using available resources. Agencies that are successful with asset management programs tend to have a strong systems approach for managing other department functions.
Asset management focuses on how an agency considers decisions in resource allocation and utilization in its transportation infrastructure. Asset management looks at an agency's "way of doing business" to see if there are better ways to reach decisions by:
- Basing decision methods and criteria on current policy guidance;
- Considering a range of alternatives;
- Applying more objective information to decisions;
- Focusing on the outcomes of decisions.
Michigan DOT’s Asset Management Process
From Best Practices in
Transportation Asset Management
NCHRP Project 20-68, February 2007.
In this way transportation asset management systems are very similar in nature to business "quality" systems used by major corporations since the 1970s. TAM helps agencies manage scarce resources, articulate rational investment policies, measure the effects of past decisions, and provide alternative scenarios to improve future performance.