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THE FUTURE OF ASSET MANAGEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES: A NATIONAL ASSET MANAGEMENT STEERING COUNCIL

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In the past decade, asset management and sustainable public infrastructure needs have dominated industry discussions and professional presentations in the water and wastewater area. Public and private utility managers have come to realize that the stories and actual results, both capital and operational, coming from the Australian and New Zealand experiences in asset management have direct applicability to the American infrastructure field. However, as the knowledge and understanding of this operational philosophy has moved across the professional landscape, confusion and questions have arisen as to the true nature of asset management and its many different opportunities. In addition, technical and research organizations have now begun the effort to assist with the further development of philosophy and management into this new area of opportunity. Finally, education and training of the tools and techniques, benefits, and cost saving opportunities for all utility personnel from the elected official to the employee directly contacting the agency customers has become apparent to many. All of these efforts, while somewhat collaborative, are all pursued as individual projects through any number of professional, technical, agency or university programs that have no centralized means coordinating, collaborating, and sharing the results and information coming from these disparate efforts.

Recent efforts by several utility professionals have identified the need for a centralized clearinghouse for information, collaboration, and coordination; an Asset Management Center of Excellence. This clearinghouse would provide a significant value to the industry and to agencies as they either begin or expand their involvement in asset management. Agencies across the industry want to know that their efforts will have real and demonstrable results that are in the best long term life cycle interest of their utilities and customers. As a result, with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, input from utilities, research, academia and the professional and technical consultants in the industry was obtained from a collaborative effort of 160 individuals from across the industry conducted in May 2005 in Washington DC. This effort identified over 200 specific actions activities related to asset management that could be better managed and also lead to more comprehensive collaboration throughout the industry. Implementing these activities also would enable easier asset management implementation by utilities resulting in the identification of long term cost and operational efficiencies. From these specific topics, the top ten (10) immediate topics and activities were identified to be accomplished in the next 1 to 3 years. The participants in this workshop also identified the need for a National Asset Management Steering Council (NAMS) to effectively implement an industry wide approach to this set of recommendations.

The proposed podium presentation will review the results of the large collaborative efforts conducted in Washington DC; briefly review the education and research efforts that currently are ongoing in asset management worldwide; outline the agenda, scope and schedule and current steps in establishing a National Asset Management Steering Council; and request assistance and input from utility managers and professionals regarding their needs and desires for the future of asset management in the United States. This latter effort would involve the completion of a short survey of utility needs and desires from the audience participants.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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