Public works software plans, tracks performance
When the Palmdale, Calif., Public Works Department took responsibility for road maintenance from Los Angeles County in 1997, department managers knew they would need help planning and tracking maintenance activities. The department began using maintenance management software to budget the work loads and costs of maintaining 412 miles of roads in the city. Since then, the department has expanded the use of its software and added functions that are helping the city comply with Governmental Standards Accounting Board Statement No. 34 (GASB 34).
Besides keeping roads paved and open to traffic, the Public Works Department is responsible for maintaining facilities, parks and landscaping for the 103-square-mile, 126,000-resident city in northern Los Angeles County. When it took over road maintenance, the department wanted to ensure that it could continue to serve residents efficiently. “We wanted to set up some kind of a system where we could plan our work in advance and then use the information we collected from the system to make management decisions and make sure we were doing the job right,” says Terry Connell, deputy director of public works.
The department began using DOS-based planning and budgeting software in 1997, but, by 2000, department managers decided they needed a different product to integrate into a Windows environment. They also wanted software that would help them link maintenance activities to the value of the city’s assets, which would help the city comply with GASB 34.
In September 2000, Palmdale purchased maintenance management software from Rapid City, S.D.-based CitiTech Systems. The software tied work management, asset management, resource management and fund accounting into one system that compares planned costs with actual costs and performance. Using the software, the city continued to track work orders, plan work schedules, and record labor performed, materials used and maintenance costs. It also gained the ability to track purchase orders, manage inventory, identify assets in detail, and link maintenance costs and improvements to the values of assets.
When residents call the department to report a pothole or other maintenance needs, clerks record the problem in the software, which routes the work order to supervisors. Once workers have fixed the problem, they record the amount of time it took to complete and the materials and equipment used. They turn the information in to the clerks, who record the data using the software.
As work is performed, the software keeps track of its effect on inventory, equipment maintenance, payroll and budgets. “Maintenance management software is not easy to keep up to date,” Connell says. “The staff is really good about it, but it takes a lot of staff support from the management level to the people who have their hands on the shovels.”
Supervisors can view reports of the assets and their values, completed work, materials used and costs for performing various maintenance activities. “You can give people an idea of what the value of their infrastructure is and what maintenance effort is being applied annually,” Connell says. “You can show whether you’re maintaining your infrastructure at a satisfactory level.”
The department currently is recording assets using the software and calculating asset values to meet GASB 34 requirements. The department plans to record all assets by the end of the year.