Oregon DOT saves millions through cost avoidance with innovative IT system

For every $1 invested in the Oregon Department of Transportation’s nine information technology systems on the Oregon Transportation Investment Act III State Bridge Delivery Program, $2.10 was returned in benefits — making the agency’s return on investment, in terms of costs avoided, more than double.

This benefit-cost ratio was revealed in a recent ODOT analysis of the IT systems. Most of the measurable benefits of the IT systems were time savings of people working on the bridge program, which equaled about eight full-time positions over the 10-year project. Given the approximately $3.5 million spent on developing these tools to date, ODOT’s realized costs savings now exceed $7.3 million.

At the core of the nine information technology systems is the Geographic Information System infrastructure. It includes the hardware and software to create and databases to support other IT activities. It allows program staff to quickly and easily generate maps and research environmental, design and programmatic issues. Overall, the IT systems saved users time by decreasing the need to enter data or perform calculations; making data easily retrievable for calculations, reports, maps or drawings; and making information available from remote as well as central locations.

The Federal Highway Administration has found that one-fourth of estimated highway needs have a benefit-cost ratio of about 1.5 to 1, so ODOT’s ratio of 2.1 to 1 is especially strong. The agency’s benefit-cost analysis of the nine systems was vetted by Delcan, a respected multidisciplinary engineering, planning, management and technology consulting firm with a concentration in transportation.

“Through these IT systems, ODOT was able to improve the bridge program’s efficiency and overall time savings,” said Tom Lauer, ODOT major projects branch manager. “We’re pleased that our investment in these systems has yielded such positive results for the program.”