During the period of May 2017 to October 2018, the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) visited the Maryland, Iowa, Washington State, Colorado, and Arizona Departments of Transportation (DOT) to interview senior Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) officials and their teams. The purpose of these visits was to learn how each DOT has defined, organized, and is carrying out its TSMO functions.
Key learnings from the TSMO agencies included the identification of six characteristics common to all the states NOCoE visited:
- Strong leadership
- Prioritization, visibility, and availability of resources to do the job
- The Importance of culture in breaking down silos
- TSMO Embodied by a champion at the senior staff level, with or without a defined TSMO division
- C3: collaboration, communication, coordination
- Attention to the workforce of the future
If one were to be underscored more so than any of the others, it was the presence of a senior department official with TSMO responsibilities for the organization. This person assesses and understands the underlying conditions the DOT faces, makes the most of what was available, shores up deficiencies, and leverages every opportunity to create an environment where TSMO is integral to the department’s vision and mission.
These visits impacted NOCoE’s mission and priorities in at least two ways. First, they affirmed the importance of the Center’s role both as an advocate for TSMO and as a confluence of services and supports to enhance TSMO activities. Understanding better how each DOT approached its TSMO responsibilities highlighted the key elements that NOCoE needs to support, both through its own promotion and outreach of TSMO and the nature and extent of services it provides to assist agencies in the fulfillment of their mission. Secondly, the visits also underscored the value of collaboration and networking among the DOTs as a community of practice. The Center’s role in bringing together the TSMO field and facilitating dialogue and knowledge exchange—whether among state, regional or local agencies or the private sector that supports them—was emphasized by all the agencies visited as a key element in the value that it offers.
Several overarching goals were outlined before the site visits, all of which were achieved. These included:
- Identifying an overview of how TSMO works in the agency, commonly captured by an organization chart or TSMO plan
- Sharing knowledge resources from TSMO plans and organization structures to TSMO webpages and examples of TSMO practices (interestingly, the Center learned that fewer TSMO practices are documented than would have been thought; instead, TSMO reflects “a new way of doing business” that infuses all aspects of the work, both internal to transportation operations, and in collaboration with other transportation divisions so as to integrate practices and help permeate a transops ethos throughout the department)
- Finding an opportunity to promote the role of NOCoE and to identify state DOT staff to add to the Center’s newsletter circulation list and outreach efforts
- Cultivating champions of TSMO to help increase the breadth and depth of TSMO in state and local DOTs around the country
- Providing value to the department’s TSMO team and liaisons in other divisions when meeting together to discuss TSMO (what some TSMO officials called “team building”)
- Receiving unbiased affirmation that TSMO works
- Gathering a list of potential case studies for the Center to create in order to highlight valuable features of each department’s TSMO program
The resulting goodwill among the departments and NOCoE has helped affirm the Center’s role as the champion for the TSMO Community as well as being a products and services hub for them.
Organizational Capability Element
- Program Status/Authorities
- Program Status
- State-of-the Practice
NOCoE Agency Engagement Report.pdf (778.32 KB)