Transportation Asset Management (TAM) is a systematic process of operating, maintaining, and upgrading transportation assets cost-effectively. TAM combines engineering and mathematical analysis with sound business practice and economic theory. Asset management systems are goal-driven, and like traditional planning processes, include components for data collection, strategy evaluation, program development, and feedback. TAM systems explicitly address integration of decisions made across all program areas. In short, Transportation Asset Management is a philosophy and a flexible process, not a regimented series of steps using a specific piece of software.
According to the Federal Highway Administration-a strong proponent of TAM programs-an asset management system should include:
- Strategic goals;
- An inventory of assets;
- A valuation of assets;
- Quantitative condition and performance measures;
- Measures of how well strategic goals are being met;
- Usage information;
- Performance/prediction capabilities;
- Relational databases to integrate individual management systems;
- Consideration of qualitative issues;
- Links to the budget process;
- Engineering and economic analysis tools
A key feature of asset management is that the entire process is built around explicit, clearly defined goals. An agency establishes goals and objectives that reflect the target levels of service that will fulfill customer expectations. These goals are used to guide, monitor, and evaluate the entire TAM process. Strategic goals are long-term, and serve as the foundation for policy-making, funding allocations, and programming decisions.