While the new Asset Management System will enable the county to save money in the long run, it also provides important near-term benefits.
Over the last 8 years, Hillsborough County, Florida, has planned and implemented a comprehensive Asset Management system for its roadway and stormwater infrastructure. The new system includes all the forecasting elements necessary to do multiyear budgeting of maintenance, operations, and eventual capital replacement of these assets. The Asset Management system replaces a previous management approach that was based largely on historic line-item expenditures, reactions to citizen or political demands, and corrective rather than preventive management strategies.
To accomplish the transformation to an Asset Management approach, the Hillsborough County Public Works Department (department) formed management teams that identified the data and tools it would need to move forward. The department then contracted for the collection of comprehensive location and condition data for its roadway and stormwater assets and had these data loaded into a management information system, known as the Hillsborough County Asset Management System (HAMS). HAMS allows the ready retrieval of the condition and maintenance data, location of assets on the department's geographical information system (GIS) base map, analysis of the data, and the development of efficient strategies to preserve and improve the infrastructure. Included in HAMS is information on more than 6,200 lane-miles of paved roads, 4.2 million feet of storm pipe, and over 500,000 point assets, such as approximately 87,000 signs, 14,000 intersections, 30,000 stormwater inlets, and many other items.
A critical component of Hillsborough County's Asset Management strategy is the use of economic analysis tools to aid in the evaluation of asset maintenance, replacement, and improvement strategies. The county's goal is to bring investment decisions to the dollar level as much as possible. The department uses economic analysis at several different levels in its decision-making process. In some asset categories, such as intersection and sidewalk improvements, the department applies benefit-cost analysis to HAMS and other data to evaluate individual improvement projects and to rank projects by priority. The department also evaluates life-cycle costs when considering potential actions for pavements, bridges, and stormwater assets. Finally, the county uses economic analysis methods to evaluate investments in new technologies, such as in its recent decision to incorporate light-emitting diode (LED) traffic signals into its traffic signal and intelligent transportation system (ITS) network.
By improving the department's ability to manage these assets and target money more efficiently, HAMS will enable the county to save money in the long run. Near-term benefits are also significant. With HAMS, the department can keep the public informed about pending infrastructure services for several years into the future. The system has increased the department's accountability to the Board of County Commissioners and has led to increased funding of the preventive maintenance program. Using HAMS, Hillsborough County became an early implementer of accounting reforms required under Government Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 34 (GASB 34). Because it informs the department on the current and expected future conditions of all roadway and stormwater assets, HAMS greatly reduces the risk to the public of unexpected infrastructure failure. This reduced risk contributed to an improved flood insurance rating from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Data in HAMS also facilitated the county's ability to anticipate and respond to damage caused by the hurricanes that struck Florida in August and September of 2004.
Hillsborough County intends to expand the capabilities and coverage of its Asset Management program. Efforts are already underway to implement comprehensive infrastructure asset inventories in other departments: Water; Parks, Recreation, and Conservation; Planning and Growth Management; and Housing and Community Code Enforcement.