Methodology - Development of the Report Card Grades

In the development of the Report Card grades, seven fundamental components of the infrastructure were considered. The fundamental components were not weighted .The grade for each category was allocated at the discretion of the 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure Advisory Council on the basis of their review and analysis of the data. These experts in the subject areas may have determined grades on the basis of a particular plus or minus in any of the components. The fundamental components assessed were:

  • Capacity — Evaluate the infrastructure’s capacity to meet current and future demands.
  • ConditionEvaluate the infrastructure’s existing or near future physical condition.
  • Funding — Identify the current level of funding (from all levels of government) for the infrastructure category and compare it to the estimated funding need.
  • Future Need — Evaluate the cost to improve the infrastructure and determine if future funding prospects will be able to meet the need.
  • Operation & Maintenance — Evaluate the owners’ ability to operate and maintain the infrastructure properly and determine that the infrastructure is in compliance with government regulations.
  • Public Safety — Evaluate to what extent the public's safety is jeopardized by the condition of the infrastructure and what the consequences of failure may be.
  • Resilience — Evaluate the infrastructure system’s capability to prevent or protect against significant multihazard threats and incidents and the ability to expeditiously recover and reconstitute critical services with minimum damage to public safety and health, the economy, and national security. (For more information on resilience, see below.)


Grading Criteria

The 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure followed a traditional letter grade scale. 

A = 90-100%

B = 80-89%

C = 70-79%

D = 51-69%

F = 50% or lower


Research and Grading Process

  1. Review available data or surveys for each category. Data collected will be used as follows:
    • Assess infrastructure using existing reported grades;
    • Identify current amount being spent and dollars needed to replace existing infrastructure, in 2009 dollars;
    • Identify dollars needed to upgrade infrastructure to meet future needs;
    • Identify percent capacity of problem
    • Identify quantity of infrastructure, number of bridges, miles of road, pipe, etc.;
    • Assess consequences of doing nothing. 
  2. Compile and analyze the data, resulting in the development of a summary report. The following criteria will be used in presenting the data:
    • Total need defined by dollars needed;
    • Existing and future needs and current funding levels;
    • Percent of capacity represented by the problem;
    • Quantity that the problem represents;
    • Progress made in category from previous report card, including condition, funding, etc.;
    • Consequences of doing nothing.  
  3. Determine an initial grade.
  4. Analyze, validate, and determine final grade.



Infrastructure resilience is the capability of systems to prevent or protect against significant multihazard threats and the ability to rapidly recover and ensure continuity of critical services, with minimal negative impact to public health and safety. In evaluating resiliency for each of the 15 categories, the following criteria were considered: 

  • Risk and consequence management (both within each sector and across sectors);
  • Life-cycle maintenance;
  • Sector and system interdependencies;
  • Time, ease and cost of recovery.  

As the metrics for evaluating resilience are in their infancy, the 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure includes brief qualitative comments for each category. There is an overarching need to develop multihazard risk assessments for each sector and use them to inform public perceptions and priorities. 

As applied to infrastructure, the concept of evaluating resilience embodies a shift from a strategy based on pure protection to one that ensures the continuity of operations in the face of aging as well as man-made and natural hazards. The scope of resilience includes security, disaster preparedness and mitigation, and response and recovery activities. A strong, prosperous, and competitive nation must develop and maintain a resilient infrastructure.