InTrans / Apr 20, 2021

SUDAS establishing Iowa Public Works Service Bureau

New organization will connect city agencies

The Statewide Urban Design and Specifications (SUDAS) program has taken on the daunting—but exciting—challenge of creating a new public works service bureau in Iowa to connect the state’s more than 900 city agencies.

The Iowa Public Works Service Bureau (PWSB) will provide a mechanism to establish much-needed communication between public works departments and be responsive to ongoing and emerging public works initiatives and concerns.

“Development of the Iowa Public Works Service Bureau will fundamentally change information exchange between cities of all sizes, as well as allow the Service Bureau to provide analysis of data to improve efficiencies and effectiveness of public works operations across the state,” said SUDAS Director Paul Wiegand, who is the principal investigator on the project.

Some of the anticipated benefits of the PWSB are that it will provide the following:

  • Invaluable tools and resources for public works departments that provide essential services
  • Efficient use of public resources to maintain infrastructure, which is critical to long-term sustainability
  • Specific data that helps public works staff and civic leaders make informed decisions and policies to improve quality of life
  • Stable and sustainable communities through the in-depth understanding of the workings of public works departments
  • Improved infrastructure operational efficiencies by cultivating communication between agencies

SUDAS conducted a feasibility study in 2019 that included a literature review to determine that no such similar organization existed, a survey of Iowa’s public agencies that showed overwhelming support for a public works service bureau, and laid out the steps to initiate implementation. The second phase of the project is a two-year effort to officially establish the PWSB.

Specifically, work is underway at SUDAS to create the PWSB website, hire staff to establish web applications such as a database of city contacts and sample policies, establish a permanent advisory committee, and secure permanent funding with a Road Use Tax Fund off-the-top allocation.

“Our contract started March 1st and we have hit the ground running,” said SUDAS Program Coordinator Beth Richards, who is a co-author on the project. “We are in the process of developing the groundwork for our new website and have hired a new staff member. Our next steps will be marketing, marketing, marketing!”

How you can support PWSB

  • Help spread the word about the PWSB
  • Be on the lookout for the PWSB website, coming soon
  • Encourage the Iowa Legislature to adopt an off-the-top allocation from the street construction portion of Iowa’s Road Use Tax Fund to support the PWSB