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Infrastructure Capital Assets Management

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The demand on public funding and the need for local, state, and federal officials to compete for scarce resources generally causes local officials to focus decision-making in favor of the community's most visible needs. At the same time, officials want rates on water and wastewater to remain stable. Finally, there is a push for all government organizations to increase their level of competitiveness. Unfortunately, these three very important objectives may come into conflict when it comes to some of their largest responsibilities - their water and wastewater infrastructure.

Managing assets effectively is a long-term proposition that requires a systematic management approach, excellent communication, and funding techniques that transcend the next election. Fortunately, tools exist today to help manage infrastructure to meet the objectives of policy makers, managers and operations staff together. These tools have been used on a limited basis in water and wastewater utilities and are in wider use in private companies and the military.

In June 1999, the Government Accounting Standards Board gave the go-ahead to issue the most comprehensive government accounting rule ever developed for municipalities. These rules currently do not apply to enterprise funds. Reports prepared under the new standards will help to determine whether the government's financial health is improving or deteriorating. This will help decision-makers better understand the long and short-term implications of policy decisions.

A number of asset management tools and techniques that have been used in utilities throughout the world are discussed in this article. This paper outlines a new approach for integrating these tools called Infrastructure Capital Assets Management (ICAM). The approach includes modeling tools, decision support tools, and rational methodology that provide decision-makers the tools needed to develop strategies and justify retaining revenues for informed management of their assets.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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