Transportation Asset Management Case Studies
Economics in Asset Management, The Florida Experience
What Has Hillsborough County Learned?
Leadership, staff participation, contractor support, public outreach, and an ongoing committee are all essential to setting up the tools to do Asset Management.
Hillsborough County understood from the outset of its implementation of Asset Management principles that the process would involve significant time and expense. Experience bore out this expectation. The process of setting up contracts, collecting comprehensive inventory and condition data, and placing it in an information management system took 3 years, and, as noted previously, cost more than $3 million to complete. This cost does not reflect the ongoing expense of keeping the system current as new infrastructure is added and existing infrastructure is maintained and replaced.
Given these challenges, Hillsborough County learned that several factors are key to setting up the tools to do Asset Management:
- Leadership. Due to the necessarily large-scale investment of time and resources, a comprehensive effort to establish an Asset Management system such as Hillsborough County's can only occur if there is strong and committed leadership from the top of the organization. The leadership must understand the benefits of the system, bring others to understand these benefits, advocate for funding the system to the highest levels of the government, and see the system through to implementation.
- Staff participation. The willingness of employees to use the information to its full potential is vital to getting the best return on the Asset Management investment. Once HAMS became operational, Public Works Department employees immediately appreciated the new ability that it gave them to anticipate future maintenance and replacement needs, thus enabling the system to generate benefits quickly. They also worked hard to design and implement tools to analyze the inventory data to facilitate decision-making.
- Contractor support. Hillsborough County worked extensively with contractors to design and build HAMS. In this case, the county was able to benefit from state-of-the-art data collection methods to assemble a comprehensive infrastructure inventory-something that would have been unaffordable using in-house labor and resources. Contractor support has also been valuable for setting up and operating economic analysis tools for programs such as the intersection program.
- Public outreach. Hillsborough County discovered that good public outreach about its Asset Management effort was critical to maintaining funding and support for the development of HAMS. Citizens and elected leaders are receptive to measures to improve infrastructure management if they are given information on how the measures will work. National attention to the effort has also reinforced the public's awareness of the innovative nature of the effort.
- Commitment. The creation of a comprehensive asset inventory is a starting point, not an end point. Hillsborough County is committed to updating the inventory data while it continues to investigate new applications of economic analysis and other tools to make use of the data.