Washington, D.C. – In a letter to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works yesterday, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) National Transportation Policy Project commended the Committee for proposing essential first steps toward establishing a performance-based transportation program in its recently introduced bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). For the last three years, NTPP has advocated for a transportation program based on national goals, outcomes and accountability.
In the letter, NTPP suggests several proposals that it believes could further improve MAP-21. While MAP-21 contains principles of performance management, targets and goals, there should also be a clearer relationship between the goals and performance principles incorporated into the highway performance program and those in the transportation planning process. NTPP recommends that the performance standards and metrics in state asset management plans should be national in scope and consistent in their implementation from state to state.
In addition, NTPP feels that in a time of constrained resources, there should be a clearer focus on national goals and purposes, in determining eligibility for federal funding under MAP-21, including greater clarity between areas of federal interest and of state and local responsibility. NTPP also believes that MAP-21 represents an opportunity to establish a connection between funding and performance, and to introduce a program of incentives for those states and metropolitan planning organizations most effective in reporting the application of performance measures and outcomes to their decision-making processes. Finally, NTPP suggests that a significant portion of the funds dedicated to a proposed national freight program in MAP-21 should be distributed on a competitive, mode-neutral basis, potentially through the existing “Projects of National and Regional Significance” program. NTPP also recommends that federal barriers to state flexibility and innovation, including restrictions to tolling, be removed to increase the leveraging of federal funds.
Earlier this year, NTPP released a blueprint of how available funds can be used with greater focus, accountability, and results to advance critical national needs and priorities for our surface transportation programs. NTPP’s plan, Performance Driven: Achieving Wiser Investment in Transportation, recommended reforms to consolidate and scale back the existing federal transportation program and to target scarce federal resources to a set of specific national goals. Those goals include advancing economic growth, improving national connectivity, promoting metropolitan accessibility, improving energy security and environmental sustainability, and fostering safety.
To read the full letter, click here.
Ashley Clark, Press Secretary