InTrans / Oct 10, 2022

Iowa PWSB aims to connect cities of all sizes

Website features help public works staff throughout the state to “communicate to innovate”

With over 900 cities in the state and each with differing activities within their public works departments, the ability to communicate and exchange information statewide is needed and had been lacking until the new Iowa Public Works Service Bureau (PWSB).

In its first year of operation—the website launched in August 2021—the Iowa PWSB grew to 269 registered users.

“The Iowa PWSB was established to provide information to improve the connectivity, knowledge, and efficiency of these essential workers by opening much-needed communication lines and fostering productive discussions among city staff,” said Paul Wiegand, who is the principal investigator on the Iowa PWSB project and director of the Statewide Urban Design and Specifications (SUDAS) program.

Iowa PWSB members—signing up is free and easy to do—have access to a variety of features available at that help them “communicate to innovate.” One of the newest additions is a bid tab database, which includes bid quantities and unit costs using the SUDAS program bid items to provide even more standardization.

“This interactive report, based on awarded contracts from throughout the state, will allow city staff to see what other cities are paying for the same item, potentially saving cities time and money in the bidding process,” said Beth Richards, who is a co-author on the Iowa PWSB project.

Other valuable resources for public works staff, most but not all of which is accessible to members only, on the Iowa PWSB site include the following:

  • The Reports section, which includes more than a dozen interactive dashboards and charts accessible to members, covers finances, streets, bridges, and bid tabulations
  • The Contacts list is a valuable tool open to members that allows cities to connect and exchange information pertinent to cities of similar sizes or undertaking similar projects
  • Forum posts give members the opportunity to engage with their peers more broadly on projects and policies and more
  • The Job Board is publicly available to anyone looking for a job or how to describe a position, but only members can post open positions
  • The Training and Educational Opportunities page is open to everyone and includes upcoming trainings in the state and a listing of organizations that help connect city staff with the training opportunities in Iowa and online

In addition to these resources, for those who are less web savvy, the Iowa PWSB site has a series of video tutorials that help with some of the more involved options available, particularly using the Reports section. Iowa PWSB staff members are also available to help answer any questions, just send an email or give them a call!

Like the Iowa PWSB? Show your support

One project task included in the two-year Iowa PWSB grant to SUDAS funded by the Iowa Highway Research Board (IHRB), includes securing permanent financing for the PWSB.

Thus, the service bureau’s goal during this phase is to demonstrate to the Iowa Legislature and municipal leadership across Iowa the value of providing public works staff a platform to “communicate to innovate.”

So, if you’ve found the Iowa PWSB useful, please drop us a line and let us—and your state legislators—know!