When Stevan Gorcester became executive director of Washington state's Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) in 2001, the agency, which distributes funding for transportation projects, was struggling. According to Gorcester, projects weren't being tracked, and more were in the works than could be financially sustained, leading state lawmakers to mull eliminating the TIB.
"We were in some hurt, and the Legislature had kind of lost faith in us," Gorcester said.
Today the outlook is different. The TIB has a good handle on the data it needs to make good decisions, and that data is available online. TIB's performance dashboard gathers data from internal project databases and displays project status, finances, road conditions and more in real time. A Google mash-up can also overlay the dashboard data on a map.
"Legislators, auditors, the Governor's Office, performance people in the state all think we know what's going on with our business," he said. "The fact is, because of this, we do."
In 2006, the Legislature gave the TIB additional money to improve small-town streets. Because many small municipalities don't have the resources to rate their own roadways, the TIB is doing it and making the data available via the dashboard. Gorcester said the dashboard also helps the agency determine whether it would be cheaper for important projects to be rebuilt rather than repaired. "We know more about the conditions of small towns' streets than probably any of them do."