Developing A Realistic Capital Improvement Program Through Asset Management

Posted on June 1, 2010

In today’s economic climate, the need for a community to have an understanding of the value of its assets and their condition is critical in planning for the future. This knowledge will allow communities to maximize their limited budgets by prioritizing their capital improvement projects. One method to sensibly plan for their expenditures is to implement an Asset Risk Strategy. D&B Engineers and Architects, P.C. (D&B) has been at the forefront of providing such services to our clients.

On one particular project, which began in mid 2009, D&B is participating in a Risk Assessment, Prioritization and Asset Management (RAPAM) project to evaluate all wastewater, water supply, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure of a public agency where the total assets number more than 250,000. The size of this project is unusually large in comparison to other clients, where the typical quantity may range from hundreds to thousands of assets. The purpose of this project is to create a comprehensive and sustainable asset management program. The product of this exercise will be the development of a list of fundable projects for inclusion in current Capital Improvement Plans, as well as in future plans. This particular project has required extensive coordination with our client’s design and operating bureaus and management departments. The various deliverables and benefits of this type of RAPAM work are depicted graphically below.


The first step in the process includes creating an inventory of all assets by identifying, locating and cataloging them. This is followed by an assessment of each asset’s physical condition, which focuses on each asset’s major attributes, as well as; historical maintenance and service/operating conditions. Based on standard accepted asset management criteria, scores were assigned to each asset. A physical inspection was undertaken for most assets where feasible. Once the physical condition was determined, its performance condition was rated. The performance of an asset relates to its operational requirements now and in the future. The final step in the rating process involved the identification of the asset’s criticality, which reflects the importance of a particular asset to the overall system/facility if failure were to occur. For both performance and criticality alike, assets were scored based on a set of predetermined criteria decided upon by both D&B and the client. After the physical condition, performance condition, and criticality were scored, each asset was ranked and prioritized. An asset risk score was determined by adding the scores from the physical and performance condition assessments and multiplying that number by the criticality score. This method allows significant weighting of criticality to affect the results. For this particular project, assets were scored on a scale from 1 through 5 for both its physical condition and its performance condition scoring, and its criticality rating was scored from 1 through 3. A risk score of 1 reflected a perfect or close to perfect scenario while the highest score triggers concern. A typical scoring scenario is shown below:


The example above shows that the loss of the treatment plant’s influent pumping system is more critical than an internal sludge pump. This is true since the loss of the influent pumping system would cause sewer backups and flooding upstream as well as allow raw sewage to overflow without treatment. While this conclusion may seem obvious, many of the needed improvements cannot be identified as straightforward and do require this type of analysis to compare the urgency of possible alternate repairs/replacements. The risk score for the assets will then be used to guide the Capital Improvement Program by ensuring that the highest priority projects are the first to be addressed. Once the risk scores are assigned and prioritized, projects can be created or bundled for future implementation. Project bundling is advantageous in scenarios where similar scores for the same type of asset are found. For example, if it is found that all sludge transfer pumps are receiving high risk scores, then we will develop a project that will address the pumps as a group rather than addressing each pump individually to save both time and funds. To assist in the process, full construction cost estimating including debt service, and annual O&M costs was undertaken. To help our client with future needs we will develop a system that will store all of the data gathered throughout the project, including, physical condition, performance condition and criticality scores. Doing so will allow our client to efficiently manage their assets in the future with limited assistance from an outside consultant if they desire. Lastly, we will train our client’s staff to maintain and update the risk assessment, prioritization, and asset management program on their own.

This type of project is vital for maintaining our client’s facilities in good working order in order to ensure protection of public health and attain protection of the environment. The project will also provide training for the client’s staff to better enable them to proceed with future condition updates and capital improvement project planning. Knowing the condition of a community’s assets offer its residents and future residents a look into their future safety and reliability as well as providing for a stable tax base without the need for continual emergency repairs.

If you want additional information or have any interest in learning how D&B could help your community manage your assets, please contact Rob Raab at (516) 364-9890, ext. 3037.