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Suggested Citation:"Section 3 - Research Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Risk Assessment Techniques for Transportation Asset Management: Conduct of Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27130.
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Suggested Citation:"Section 3 - Research Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Risk Assessment Techniques for Transportation Asset Management: Conduct of Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27130.
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Suggested Citation:"Section 3 - Research Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Risk Assessment Techniques for Transportation Asset Management: Conduct of Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27130.
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Suggested Citation:"Section 3 - Research Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Risk Assessment Techniques for Transportation Asset Management: Conduct of Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27130.
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5   The NCHRP 08-118 research team developed a detailed work plan with activities to assess available risk assessment tools and methodologies. Then, the team prioritized those tools and methodologies, assessed impediments to their use, devised studies to test the methods, and tested the methods with actual state DOT examples. The research approach consisted of nine efforts, divided into two phases: 1. Producing a literature review 2. Developing a primer 3. Conducting interviews and surveys to summarize the current state of the practice 4. Identifying risk management tools and methodologies 5. Identifying constraints to implementation of asset risk management 6. Prioritizing tools and methodologies by their importance to asset management 7. Developing a selection process for choosing 12 pilot studies through which to further develop tools and methodologies 8. Developing a testing protocol to test the tools and methodologies 9. Testing the tools and methodologies 3.1 Phase I Efforts The five efforts for Phase I were the literature review, risk management primer, state of the practice summary, identification of tools and methodologies, and identification of constraints to implementation. 3.1.1 Literature Review The research team reviewed more than 500 research abstracts, report summaries, books, and guidance documents to develop a 55-page literature review. Only those relevant were summa- rized because most of the literature did not relate specifically to tools and techniques for risk assessment in transportation asset management. The lack of literature sources for tools and tech- niques for transportation asset management risk assessment reflects the observation that trans- portation agencies routinely consider risk but less frequently formalize their considerations. The literature review is provided in Appendix A and is not further described in this report. Many theoretical discussions were found in academic literature. This literature review sifted through many such theoretical discussions but relied more heavily on government or trans- portation association sources. Many of these sources included what could be called practical tools and techniques less common in the more theoretical academic literature. S E C T I O N 3 Research Approach

6 Risk Assessment Techniques for Transportation Asset Management: Conduct of Research Several trends were evident from the literature review: • BMSs, PMSs, and off-the-shelf risk tools have latent potential to help state DOTs make risk- based asset management decisions, but that potential has not been used widely. • State DOTs used condition data from the National Bridge Inventory (NBI) to incorporate risk into decision making, such as prioritizing scour-critical or fracture-critical bridges. • Fewer examples existed for state DOTs using risk as a consideration in pavement management. • Risk of rutting and pavement friction was considered in relation to highway safety, but those considerations were not modeled in management systems. • Tools and methodologies to assess risks posed by climate change and extreme weather were becoming more common. • International risk management practices provided some relevant examples, such as the New South Wales, Australia, Road and Traffic Authority’s risk-based culvert assessment manual.1 • Other international examples, however, often appeared to equate risk to condition so that assets in poor condition were considered at risk. • Project-level risk management was more advanced in terms of manuals and policies than the management of asset risk at the network or program level. However, those manuals and policies were not relevant to the scope of this research. 3.1.2 Risk Management Primer The research team developed a risk management primer to explain in simple terms the pri- mary concepts underlying risk management, particularly risk management based on modeling or statistical methods. The primer provides a quick refresher on risk terminology and concepts for the practitioner. For the nonpractitioner, it provides a basic understanding of the concepts used in this report. The primer contains both qualitative and quantitative concepts, the latter being particularly applicable to how some BMSs and PMSs address risk. The primer serves as a resource explain- ing the fundamental principles behind quantified risk management that are commonly used by risk and asset managers in the private sector and are applicable to transportation agencies. Most of the concepts in the primer are familiar to asset managers and those analyzing, forecasting, or optimizing variables pertinent to assets and other aspects of engineering. The primer is intended to refresh readers with these concepts and relate those commonly understood concepts to risk assessment. 3.1.3 Summary of State of the Practice To understand the current state of the practice in transportation risk assessment and manage- ment, the research team conducted several activities following the literature review: • A survey of state DOTs • A review of all 2019 TAMPs • Interviews with state DOT officials and management system vendors A state of the practice document was produced based on the findings of the activities. 3.1.4 Identification of Tools and Methodologies Dozens of potential tools and methodologies were identified through the literature review and research into the state of the practice. The identified tools fell into four categories: 1. Inexpensive off-the-shelf tools such as Monte Carlo simulation and Excel-based forecasting 2. The most commonly available BMSs and PMSs

Research Approach 7   3. Climate-related risk assessment techniques linked or “crosswalked” to commonly used risk management techniques 4. The use of asset management plans as a framework to demonstrate how risk management can influence other areas of asset management 3.1.5 Identification of Constraints to Implementing Asset Risk Management The research team’s documentation of the constraints hindering transportation asset risk man- agement influenced their selection of promising tools and methodologies. Tools were selected in part because of their ability to overcome the constraints transportation agencies now face. An interim project deliverable summarized the constraints into three categories: 1. General constraints to implementing asset risk management 2. Constraints to managing climate change risks to assets 3. Wider use of management systems to address asset risks 3.2 Phase II Efforts Phase II consisted of four efforts: 1. Prioritizing tools and methodologies by their importance to asset management 2. Selecting tools and techniques for further study and pilot testing 3. Developing protocols for testing 4. Testing the tools and methodologies 3.2.1 Prioritization and Selection of Studies for Piloting The first two Phase II tasks were to narrow down the many potential tools and techniques and to select pilot studies that best met four criteria: 1. Whether a proposed tool or technique met or advanced the research project’s objective 2. Whether the tool or technique overcame one of the constraints to implementation identified in the research 3. Whether the tool or technique helped practitioners assess risks to a core asset management process, such as identifying high-risk bridge and pavement assets or integrating risk into TAMPs 4. Whether the tool or technique would be widely available to state DOTs—the tools and tech- niques selected for piloting were off-the-shelf tools, the most widely used BMSs and PMSs, and tools available from FHWA Meeting those four criteria were pilot studies for 12 tools or techniques advanced in Phase II. 3.2.2 Developing Protocols for Testing The next effort in Phase II was to develop a study protocol for all 12 selected pilots. The fol- lowing protocols were identified to be followed for the 12 tools or techniques piloted in Phase II. Most of the studies identified and followed the format below: • Objectives of the study • Description of the strategy or tool tested • Methodology used in conducting the pilot • DOT organizational unit engaged in the pilot • How the DOT could use the pilot, and which personnel would participate

8 Risk Assessment Techniques for Transportation Asset Management: Conduct of Research • Benefit of the pilot for a DOT • Challenges in pilot study setup and use • The methodology of some pilot studies was long and detailed, so that state DOT practitioners could apply or adapt the methodology to similar analyses. These protocols are described in the appendices. 3.2.3 Testing the Tools and Methodologies The final task in Phase II was to test or demonstrate the 12 tools or techniques, usually with state DOT data. State DOTs were selected for pilot testing based on agency practices identified in the literature review, the state of the practice, or the research team’s experience. Pilots were selected based upon factors such as • The state DOT used the BMS or PMS with which the technique was to be tested. • The state DOT possessed the data needed for the analysis. • The state DOT had participated in earlier resilience studies that prepared them to test or cri- tique a resilience–risk technique. • The state DOT was willing to consider integrating the tool or technique into its TAMP. • The tool or technique was particularly relevant to a state, and the state could benefit from the result of the tool or technique. Of the 12 studies selected a total of 7 were piloted. Detailed protocols were prepared for the 5 not piloted to enable DOTs to implement the tools and techniques by following the protocols.

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The assessment of climatic and extreme weather risks is increasingly becoming important to the operation of transportation agencies. There are easy-to-use tools and techniques that can be implemented by agencies.

NCHRP Research Report 1066: Risk Assessment Techniques for Transportation Asset Management: Conduct of Research, from TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program, discusses how to assess risks and summarizes 12 studies that demonstrate how to enhance the measurement of risks, quantify risks, and better link risk management processes with the appropriate tools.

Supplemental to the report are a presentation and NCHRP Web-Only Document 366: Risk Assessment Techniques for Transportation Asset Management: Appendices.

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