This research project will investigate improvements and additions to the current risk assessment program of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) through the NCDOT's Value Management Office (VMO). The VMO oversees seven programs that together focus on “streamlining operations, improving project quality and outcomes, reducing costs without compromising function, and increasing the use of environmentally sound and energy-efficient practices and materials." The risk assessment program is one of these seven programs and it “identifies potential risks associated with a construction project and develops a plan to reduce those risks." NCDOT's present risk assessment program that is managed by the VMO is applied for certain projects on a provisional basis using ad hoc guidelines that pertain to risk planning, risk identification, risk assessment, risk response, and monitoring and control. This research project will investigate improvements to and the expansion of NCDOT's current program within the VMO and incorporate it as a component of the new Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) Process at the Planning/Scoping, 30% complete, and 60% complete design phases for all transportation projects and modes (e.g., highway, aviation, rail, bike/ped, public transit, and ferry).
Risk management involves decision‐making that is based on balancing project values such as cost, schedule, and quality, and developing realistic project cost and duration estimates (CALTRANS 2012). Research has shown that effective risk management programs have helped organizations sort through numerous potential risk events and pinpoint the truly critical ones, thereby resulting in fewer surprises, better budgets and schedules, and improved project performance (U.S. Department of Energy 2003, Ten Six 2017).
A previous Technical Assistance Request project (TAR-2019-14) conducted by the principal investigator analyzed nine state DOTs with robust risk assessment programs and the current literature that pertained to risk programs in order to provide a state-of-practice document for the NCDOT (Jaselskis and Luca 2019). The NCDOT remains keenly interested in learning from other state programs with the intent to apply some of their successful techniques to its own risk assessment program as a component of the new IPD process. For example, other states have developed unique risk management tools, spreadsheets, and checklists for project life-cycles as well as for specific applications such as risk-based cost and schedule estimations. The goal of this research project is to build on this previous study and assist the NCDOT in establishing an effective risk assessment program that evaluates and mitigates risk across all IPD projects. The specific objectives of this research project include (1) understanding the current state of the NCDOT's risk assessment program, (2) identifying best practices for implementing a successful revised risk assessment program based upon other state DOT successes, and (3) developing new risk management processes for NCDOT and incorporating them into the new IPD process. The primary product from this research will be detailed guidelines and NCDOT specific tools for implementing a more robust risk management program for the NCDOT. The NCDOT will greatly benefit from being able to be more proactive in identifying and responding to project risks and thus meeting intended project goals.