Works programming refers to the preparation of annual and multi-annual works programs in which road assets requiring treatment are identified, selected, and prioritized and resources are allocated from available funds (Robinson et al. 1998).
Programming implies the application of asset management principles to make decisions at the network or subnetwork level for budget allocation in the short to medium term. Assuming that appropriate levels of service have been set, this process includes identifying asset requirements, developing a total needs program, and prioritizing/optimizing programs for the existent budget constraints (Austroads 2009).
The preparation of works programs has at its core a resource allocation process, which ideally distributes the available funding among projects that have been identified as the best alternatives for investing funds. Best practice includes the application of benefit-cost analysis for each candidate project within a lifecycle framework. Modern analysis tools are based on such a framework and provide mathematical optimization routines to determine the best investment choices subject to limited budgets (Cambridge Systematics 2004).
While the economic factor is important, it is not the only criterion used for selecting projects. Other aspects that may also be considered are network connectivity, neighborhood cohesion, preservation of corridor standards, and economic necessity (Cambridge Systematics et al. 2002-1).
At high levels of maturity in asset management, works programming also considers risk and thus applies a risk-based approach when carrying out tasks like identifying candidate projects or prioritizing works programs by road asset (UKRLG and HMEP 2013). In addition, mature works programming features resource allocation across asset classes, which is often implemented using risk criteria as well.
In developing works programs, it is important to make sure that treatment options, intervention criteria, and system priorities comply with established strategic directions (Austroads 2009).