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Case Study: New Mexico DOT Desktop STIP

New Mexico Department of Transportation State Transportation: Mobility for Everyone (logo)

The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) Desktop State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is a web-based database enabling NMDOT, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs), and district offices to submit projects for amendments and adjustments for approval electronically. It allows the NMDOT STIP to be available to all the state's stakeholders and customers in a close to real time atmosphere.

Benefits

  • Created a standard schedule for the STIP cycle
  • Helped create standard language for use in projects and amendments

Features

  • Reports can be generated and limited by many criteria including cost and jurisdiction
  • Projects are searchable by several criteria including city, county and work type

Development

  • Development costs: $500,000 for start-up; $800,000 for finalization and enhancement
  • Development Time: 2 years

I. Introduction

The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) Desktop STIP is a web-based database enabling NMDOT, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs), and district offices to submit project adjustments and amendments electronically for approval. Further, all NMDOT transit personnel and statewide operators, plus the Region 6 FTA office in Fort Worth, Texas have access to the Desktop STIP application. The NMDOT STIP Development Unit is working with the New Mexico FHWA Division Office to establish on-line approval procedures utilizing the Desktop STIP. (Paper records still accompany electronic approvals and STIPs are still approved by the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration via paper.) The project was developed over a two-year period and its goal was to streamline the entire STIP planning process. It became available to NMDOT and agencies participating in the STIP process in March of 2004. Access will be expanded to the general public.

NMDOT now uses the system for managing its STIP and all participating agencies also use it to submit projects and amendments. Currently, the system users comprise individuals from the following groups:

  • NMDOT Planning Division
  • STIP Development Unit
  • NMDOT Infrastructure (Design / Development)
  • NMDOT Functional Groups
  • NMDOT District Offices
  • Local Government Units
  • Funding Control Section
  • Project Scheduling Unit
  • ROW Bureau/Railroad/Utilities
  • Metropolitan Planning Organizations
  • Regional Planning Organizations

The web-based application is available over the Internet and requires a onetime download of JInitiator (Java runtime component by Oracle required to run the application) during the installation in order to operate the application. The download of JInitiator is an automatic process triggered when the user accesses the Web-based application the first time. Once installed, users are able to access information about all STIP projects and produce reports based on their own criteria. The reports are automatically generated in an Adobe PDF format that can be saved to a file. NMDOT also uses the Desktop STIP program to generate the PDF version of the STIP report that is posted on its web site.

The Desktop STIP has helped NMDOT and the user stakeholders become more efficient in managing the STIP process. This has helped to standardize certain aspects such as scheduling and submission language.

II. Benefits

NMDOT decided to develop the desktop STIP because of a desire to upgrade from its previous method of handling the STIP. NMDOT previously operated an old mainframe computer system that was expensive to maintain and not efficient in helping to manage the STIP process. The new application is an Oracle platform that is more powerful than many of the contemporary E-STIP programs. It currently serves as a STIP management tool for NMDOT. Following is a description of some of the more important benefits that have resulted from the launch of the system:

  • The Desktop STIP created a standard platform for all users to submit STIP projects and amendments. The NMDOT Districts and local planning organizations (MPOs and RPOs) now can enter projects verbatim into the STIP from the District TIP, Regional Transportation Improvement Program or local Transportation Improvement Program. Any adjustments or amendments to the District, MPO or RPO TIP are made by the Work Plan Administrator to the respective subset of the Desktop STIP.
  • The Desktop STIP has also helped standardize the STIP schedule. Amendments are now presented to the New Mexico State Transportation Commission on a quarterly cycle instead of the previously frequent monthly changes.
  • One of the most important benefits that the new Desktop STIP has brought is the ability for users to generate reports. This feature is described in more detail in the next section.
  • The Desktop STIP saves time and paper because users can find and print out the exact page they need. This is particularly helpful when confirming project funding in the STIP. This process requires a printout from the STIP of the project details. Previously, this involved searching through paper documents and making photocopies.

III. Features

A. Report Feature

One of the most important features of the new Desktop STIP is the reports feature. Users of the system can select from a diverse set of reports. The report functions allow the user to filter on several characteristics to tailor the report. By using certain criteria to search for projects the user can then generate their report/s based on those criteria. For example, a user could produce a report containing all projects within a certain jurisdiction and work type or funding category. The report generation feature is one of the most helpful according to users. Below is a screenshot showing the available reports that users can generate.

This screenshot shows the NMDOT Desktop STIP reports menu.  The menu shows available reports that users can generate which include: Annual Obligation Report; Annual Program Report - Internal Version; Fiscal Constraints-District Shares Report; Funding and Scheduling Report; Let Projects Report; Preliminary Scoping Report; Six Year PLan - External Version; and SUmmary Sheets.
Figure 1: Screenshot of Available Reports

B. Security

NMDOT's Desktop STIP is designed for federal, state and local agency use as well as for the general public. The public can logon as guests and view STIP project information. Government agency users have varying levels of access depending on need. MPOs and RPOs have access to submit projects to the STIP. Below is the Desktop STIP logon screen. It allows users to enter a username and password or to simply logon as a guest without the username and password requirement. Access will be expanded to the public.

This figure shows the logon screen.  There is a space for a username and a password and button to Logon as a Guest without a username and password.
Figure 2: Logon screen

C. Search Features

Desktop STIP offers users a variety of search categories. Below is a screen shot showing the types of searches that are available. The user may search by the following: posted route, city, project number, county, funding program, work type, area COG, and terminus.

This figure shows a search results page.  The results are based on Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation.  There are several projects listed at the bottom of the page in the Search Results area.
Figure 3: Search page

D. Project Information

Users can identify a single project to review by using the search feature described above. Once the user identifies a project, there are different types of information available. Below is a screen shot that shows the general project information page. At the top are tabs that take users to other project information including: location, project number, work types, related projects, and notes. The notes feature is described in greater detail below.

This figure is a screen shot that shows the general project information page.  At the top are tabs that take users to other project information including: location, project number, work types, related projects, and notes.
Figure 4: Project information page

E. Notes Feature

One of the features that is important for NMDOT internal use is the notes feature. Desktop STIP allows users with permission to post notes about specific projects that are available to view only by other users with permission. This can promote effective communication between government agencies. Agencies can include notes on projects that are accessible to the Work Plan Administrators only. This is because some project notes might be of a sensitive nature. As most of the projects are let or awarded by RFP, notes containing information such as contracting and proprietary pricing information must be restricted. These notes can be added as Restricted to Plan Administrator notes that can be viewed only by Work Plan Administrators that have the appropriate access level to the information. Below is a screen shot showing the notes feature.

This firgure is a screenshot of the print notes page.  A column on the left identifies the typ of note and the note is displayed in a space to the right of the column.
Figure 5: Print Notes page

IV. Desktop STIP Development

The Desktop STIP program was developed over a period of two years. In February of 2002, the process began with extensive planning meetings to identify the goals of the new system and how the transition from the old mainframe computer would take place. NMDOT planners decided on the type of system they wanted and the new format of the electronic STIP. NMDOT decided that it would be helpful to have a powerful database tool to upgrade their existing system and help standardize certain parts of the STIP submittal and amendment process.

NMDOT used consultants to develop the new Desktop STIP database and train NMDOT information technology (IT) staff in system maintenance. The new database uses Oracle software and extracted information from NMDOT's Consolidated Highway Database (CHDB) in order to maintain the current data. To perform this task, NMDOT selected a consultant who was previously employed at NMDOT and was very familiar with the CHDB. This proved to be very helpful in developing the Desktop STIP.

Before completion of the Desktop STIP, NMDOT invited representatives from the MPOs, RPOs and districts who would be using it. These representatives tested a prototype version and NMDOT made changes and enhancements based on their suggestions. The NMDOT Desktop STIP began operation in March of 2004 for internal government users. It is not yet available to the general public.

V. Challenges and Lessons Learned

The main challenges faced by NMDOT in the development of the Desktop STIP were in understanding a complicated database system and handling coding, bugs and viruses. Making the system secure also posed questions such as how to give local governments and MPOs access to NMDOT servers with the variety of firewalls involved. Ensuring security for certain aspects such as write access was also a particular challenge. NMDOT overcame these challenges through extensive planning and developing a detailed vision of the final product during its planning process. Additionally, the consultant's familiarity with the CHDB and with NMDOT aided in overcoming challenges.

In general, the Desktop STIP has been very well received by users, particularly as it makes it much easier to generate different types of reports. Part of the reason for user satisfaction is that NMDOT has provided training for all users so that they can become familiar with the new software.

VI. Next Steps

The desktop STIP is currently in use by governmental agencies but not by the general public. Along with opening up the program to the general public, NMDOT is currently working to complete three other goals:

  • Finalize the process of linking the Desktop STIP to a scheduling program. The Desktop STIP already contains general schedule information. However, NMDOT would like to link it with a scheduling program such as Prima Vera so that up-to-date construction and funding information would be available.
  • Link the Desk Top STIP to the Federal Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS). Linking to FMIS would enhance the funding information available through the Desktop STIP.
  • Develop a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration to use the Desktop STIP for all approvals in real time.
  • Complete integration of the Public Transportation Programs Section STIP and Aviation Capital Improvement Program (CIP) into the NMDOT STIP.

VII. Contact Information

Moses Mondary: 505-827-5575, Maurice.Mondary@state.nm.us
Bryan Danielson: 505-827-3204, Bryan.Danielson@state.nm.us
STIP Development Unit
Transportation Programs Division
New Mexico DOT

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