Nation & internation practices in decision support tools in road asset management

Li, Qindong and Kumar, Arun (2003) Nation & internation practices in decision support tools in road asset management. [Report]


This document provides a review of international and national practices in investment decision support tools in road asset management. Efforts were concentrated on identifying analytic frameworks, evaluation methodologies and criteria adopted by current tools. Emphasis was also given to how current approaches support Triple Bottom Line decision-making. Benefit Cost Analysis and Multiple Criteria Analysis are principle methodologies in supporting decision-making in Road Asset Management. The complexity of the applications shows significant differences in international practices. There is continuing discussion amongst practitioners and researchers regarding to which one is more appropriate in supporting decision-making. It is suggested that the two approaches should be regarded as complementary instead of competitive means. Multiple Criteria Analysis may be particularly helpful in early stages of project development, say strategic planning. Benefit Cost Analysis is used most widely for project prioritisation and selecting the final project from amongst a set of alternatives. Benefit Cost Analysis approach is useful tool for investment decision-making from an economic perspective. An extension of the approach, which includes social and environmental externalities, is currently used in supporting Triple Bottom Line decision-making in the road sector. However, efforts should be given to several issues in the applications. First of all, there is a need to reach a degree of commonality on considering social and environmental externalities, which may be achieved by aggregating the best practices. At different decision-making level, the detail of consideration of the externalities should be different. It is intended to develop a generic framework to coordinate the range of existing practices. The standard framework will also be helpful in reducing double counting, which appears in some current practices. Cautions should also be given to the methods of determining the value of social and environmental externalities. A number of methods, such as market price, resource costs and Willingness to Pay, are found in the review. The use of unreasonable monetisation methods in some cases has discredited Benefit Cost Analysis in the eyes of decision makers and the public. Some social externalities, such as employment and regional economic impacts, are generally omitted in current practices. This is due to the lack of information and credible models. It may be appropriate to consider these externalities in qualitative forms in a Multiple Criteria Analysis. Consensus has been reached in considering noise and air pollution in international practices. However, Australia practices generally omitted these externalities. Equity is an important consideration in Road Asset Management. The considerations are either between regions, or social groups, such as income, age, gender, disable, etc. In current practice, there is not a well developed quantitative measure for equity issues. More research is needed to target this issue. Although Multiple Criteria Analysis has been used for decades, there is not a generally accepted framework in the choice of modelling methods and various externalities. The result is that different analysts are unlikely to reach consistent conclusions about a policy measure. In current practices, some favour using methods which are able to prioritise alternatives, such as Goal Programming, Goal Achievement Matrix, Analytic Hierarchy Process. The others just present various impacts to decision-makers to characterise the projects. Weighting and scoring system are critical in most Multiple Criteria Analysis. However, the processes of assessing weights and scores were criticised as highly arbitrary and subjective. It is essential that the process should be as transparent as possible. Obtaining weights and scores by consulting local communities is a common practice, but is likely to result in bias towards local interests. Interactive approach has the advantage in helping decision-makers elaborating their preferences. However, computation burden may result in lose of interests of decision-makers during the solution process of a large-scale problem, say a large state road network. Current practices tend to use cardinal or ordinal scales in measure in non-monetised externalities. Distorted valuations can occur where variables measured in physical units, are converted to scales. For example, decibels of noise converts to a scale of -4 to +4 with a linear transformation, the difference between 3 and 4 represents a far greater increase in discomfort to people than the increase from 0 to 1. It is suggested to assign different weights to individual score. Due to overlapped goals, the problem of double counting also appears in some of Multiple Criteria Analysis. The situation can be improved by carefully selecting and defining investment goals and criteria. Other issues, such as the treatment of time effect, incorporating risk and uncertainty, have been given scant attention in current practices. This report suggested establishing a common analytic framework to deal with these issues.

Additional Information

Item Type: Report
Collection: CRC for Construction Innovation
Keywords: CRC for Construction Innovation; Program C : Delivery Management of Built Assets; Project 2001-010-C : Investment Decision Framework for Infrastructure Assets Management
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2014 03:18
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2014 03:20
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