The Good, The Bad & The Hope: 16th Annual Municipal Survey

Despite Extended Budget Crisis, Majority Expect Accelerated Spending
By Robert Carpenter, Editor | February 2013, Vol. 68 No. 2

A survey participant from Ohio stated that “schedule creep is the biggest problem. Also, recognize when you have an out-of-scope task and tell the owner then, not when the job is done. Manage your time and budget.”

This advice from a Georgia respondent was repeated by others – and seems to be an annual concern. “Engineers, especially newer ones, need to get out in the field more and understand the design versus actual construction dynamic. They need to witness first hand equipment in use.”

Contractor relationships
Like engineers, survey respondents evaluated their relationship with contractors as well. The composite score (on a scale of one to 5) was 3.91, a sizable improvement over the 2011 rating of 3.87.

The number one contractor quality cited by a resounding 87.6 percent of municipal respondents was quality. Two other areas were also both strongly emphasized by 74.2 percent of city personnel: ‘timely completion of projects’ and ‘experience.’

Municipal personnel had a litany of recommendations for their contractor partners. “When on a job, help keep the public informed about what is going on in and near construction sites,” advised a Michigan respondent. “Effective communication is a key towards project success,” echoed this Wisconsin municipal employee.

A similar piece of advice comes from this Texas community representative. “Help the field crews understand they are working for the customers that they are dealing with. Get field crews to act as ambassadors for the city.”

“We need contractors that take pride in their work and can suggest cost saving,” said this Oregon respondent. From Colorado, this city official suggests a similar theme: “Perform work to high quality standards.”

“Keep on schedule or, more importantly, get in and get out, minimizing public disruption,” advised a city employee from Ohio.

A Florida respondent emphasized that contractors should “bid real estimated costs rather than a low bid and rely on change orders later.” The essence of that comment was reflected by several survey respondents.

This interesting comment regarding safety came from an Oklahoma municipal official. “Match the safety program of the agency so costs can be compared fairly.

But it was not all critical comments of contractors. This respondent from Massachusetts said “I’ve had no worries. We’re a small department and most contractors understand and accept the fact that they will be asked to do more for a little less.”