Mapping out compliance
Marion County, Fla., has created an asset management system (AMS) to oversee its approximately 2,300 paved road miles and 500 unpaved road miles. The system uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to consolidate asset information for several departments and help the county comply with financial reporting rules.
Following the approval of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement 34 (GASB 34) in 1999, Marion County was in trouble. The directive compelled state and local governments to accurately account for the value of all infrastructure assets, such as roads and road signs, and the county needed to comply with the regulations by the 2005-2006 fiscal year.
Several county departments tracked information about public assets, but many of them stored the information in different formats and databases. As a result, calculating the values of the assets would have been difficult and time consuming. The county needed a system that would help it comply with GASB 34, accurately account for all assets, eliminate superfluous records and encourage intra-departmental communication.
In 2002, the county contracted with the Orlando office of Thornton, Colo.-based Space Imaging to create an AMS that could be used by several departments, including Building and Safety, County Clerk, Parks and Recreation, and Planning and Zoning. The consultant began by assembling the county’s existing GIS information. To that, it added one-meter resolution satellite and 0.5-meter resolution aerial imagery to spatially reference assets. Because Marion County has assets scattered throughout a 1,700 square-mile area, many in remote places, the aerial and satellite imagery helped locate assets easier than the traditional method of using engineering firms to collect data in the field.
Next, the consultants built a central AMS based on underlying GIS, remote sensing and computer aided drafting technologies. The AMS is a client-server system that employees can access on their desktop computers. Employees in the Information Technology (IT) Department edit the data using software by Dubuque, Iowa-based CartêGraph Systems and are responsible for system administration. The Engineering Department collects information about assets and supplies it to the IT Department to upload to the server.
Completed in May 2004, the $1 million system satisfies GASB 34 principles by providing a mechanism for locating and valuing all assets. The system also establishes an infrastructure inventory and supports regular maintenance evaluations of the county’s assets. County staff members now use hand-held computers outfitted with GPS units to update the AMS and document damaged signs and conditions of other assets. The county plans to use the AMS to prepare its GASB 34-compliant financial reports next year.