Of Permits and Pipes (Part 1)

The Importance of the Permitting Process for Effective Asset Management

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, the overall grade of the United States’ infrastructure is an abysmal D+. Let that set in for a moment. D+. Most of us would consider a D+ to be completely unacceptable. The state of our country’s infrastructure should be no exception.

When our infrastructure assets—bridges, water mains or roads—are improperly managed, things start to fail. In an era of crumbling infrastructure and constrained financial resources, the importance of making strategic, effective and efficient decisions is paramount. Enter asset management.

Across the board, the best decisions are informed and supported by comprehensive, high-quality data. In the world of asset management, data often resides in geographic information system (GIS) asset registries. It is critical that the “source of truth”—the asset information captured in the GIS—is up-to-date, accurate and inclusive.

The importance of a comprehensive asset registry is further compounded by the use of a GIS-centric computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) for work management. A CMMS associates physical assets to specific work activities for the purpose of tracking their history and maintenance costs from conveyance through removal. Asset management takes work management to the next level with an analysis of past, present and future scenarios.

Everything previously mentioned for effective asset management is predicated by a comprehensive, GIS-centric asset registry and work history. Unfortunately, achieving a comprehensive data set is utopia for many, largely due to the inconsistent capture of what happens before assets are conveyed for ongoing maintenance—aka, the permitting process.

Just as babies are not really delivered by storks, assets are not simply conveyed. Before assets are born, they mature through the permitting process. This process captures costs (e.g. service fees), interagency reviews and inspections (as frequently as daily for some larger projects).

Another key component of the permitting process is generating asset records. Before assets are conveyed, they must be created in the GIS. The permitting process is then initiated to track the history of each asset from the initial permit application through revisions and finally to bond release and conveyance.

During each of these steps, asset attribution and geometry are adjusted in the GIS, with the final product being an asset with complete, validated attribution that CMMS end users can use confidently to make strategic work and asset management decisions.

Stay tuned for Part Two to learn about strategies on how to ensure you get the best quality GIS data out of your permitting process.

Tom Merce, PMP, AICP, IAM

Tom is a project manager and land, licensing, and permitting subject matter expert. Prior to Woolpert, Tom worked in various capacities in municipal government, where he was responsible for administering CMMS and land management software.