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What's Included in a Capital Improvement Plan? Municipal CIP Strategy 2023

By Harrison Kelly



No matter your local government's size or where it is located geographically, every local government needs to have a capital improvement plan for upgrading their local infrastructure. 

Maybe the recent collapse of Interstate 95 near Philadelphia and its impact on community safety and the local economy prompted you to think about how to improve local roads and bridges. Perhaps natural disasters have you reconsidering your building codes and housing infrastructure. As for your digital infrastructure, perhaps you’re realizing your paper filing systems are inefficient and antiquated compared as more local governments automate with government software.

Regardless of which infrastructure needs an upgrade, it costs a lot of money and time to make a successful infrastructure project happen. As you consider upcoming budgeting and how you’ll allocate federal infrastructure grant funds, a capital improvement plan will be critical. 

Follow along for everything you need to know about capital improvement planning, and how to maximize your budgets to get more accomplished in your neighborhood.

What is Capital Improvement Planning (CIP)?

A capital improvement plan (CIP) is a thorough government planning process used for coordinating budgets, schedules, locations, and other logistic aspects to upcoming infrastructure projects in a community. Oftentimes, a CIP encapsulates a community’s infrastructure game plan for the next 4 to 6 years, to track and organize projects long before they get off the ground.

While CIPs traditionally cover physical infrastructure, as more governments move towards a digital format and strive to make improvements to local IT infrastructure, your local government should consider both physical and digital projects in your government budgeting

Why Are CIPs Important for Local Governments? 

Capital improvement planning is integral for prioritizing which infrastructure projects are most important for your community as well as how much money your local government will need to set aside to build / improve on infrastructure.  CIP’s provide a clear schedule for public sector workers, private partners, and your constituents so that everyone is on the same page. 

As ARPA and Infrastructure Investments and Job Act funds arrive for your local government, you’ll need to leverage a capital improvement plan to loop relevant federal government officials in on where grant funds are being allocated. 

Learn more about What the Infrastructure Bill Means for Local Governments.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Building a Local Government Capital Improvement Plan

Here are critical steps for you local government to follow so that your local capital improvement plan can make the most substantial improvements in your community: 

1. Accept prioritized infrastructure project lists from government departments

Get a clear understanding on which issues are seen as the highest priority to tackle by using your government communications channels to ask for a list of objectives from every government department. Hearing the needs and requests of each department will make it easier for government officials to streamline workflows and prioritize grant funds across your entire local government. 

2. Consider the full set of proposed infrastructure projects and prioritize

With a long list of potential projects to work on in the near future, take the time to look for common trends regarding the types of infrastructure projects that are most in need in your community. Consolidate the lists from each department into one capital improvement plan rough draft prioritized by level of importance and need.

3. Consider the full budget needed for the upcoming projects.

Now that government leadership has dictated the highest priority projects, consider the expenses associated with each: 

  • What types of supplies will be needed to make it happen? Are they costly to ship?
  • How much public and private sector labor will be needed? 

Considering these questions will dictate what your capital improvement budget will look like and give your government officials a more clear picture of which projects will be costliest. 

Learn more about How to Form a Government Logistics Plan and conquer supply chain management for ordering critical supplies.

4. Draft a CIP based on the highest priority government infrastructure projects

Consider changing the priorities around based on anticipated costs. Was your original top priority much more expensive than other useful projects? Consider dropping it further down the list for now. Review the plan internally amongst relevant government officials. 

5. Share with the public for feedback

Once your draft is solidified, allow for public discourse to take place in public meetings, via complaint management software, and over your government social media pages to make sure your local government’s CIP priorities align with the public’s. Hearing from your citizens directly will allow you to prioritize what the taxpayer is asking for and keep community-members safe and happier. 

6. Make the plan official

Consider your constituents’ feedback and make changes to the draft as needed, then BOOM! Once  you’ve prioritized the top projects and ironed out the details around costs of goods and services and timelines, your community has a new finalized CIP.

What Are Common Uses for Capital Improvement Plans?

Giving major consideration to the future budgeting and scheduling needs for your community will pay dividends for keeping communal projects organized for years to come. 

Here are some common use cases for CIPs in local government:

1. Considering the Most Economical & Efficient Approach to Upcoming Projects

By planning for 4-5+ years in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to consider the most efficient and cost effective methodologies for making upcoming infrastructure projects happen. Planning ahead will give you and other government employees more time to consider the full set of processes and/or accept digital RFPs from private sector partners.

2. Scheduling Infrastructure Projects from A to Z

Everyone knows that one bump in the road can lead to major delays in the completion of an infrastructure project. Take the time now to plan the step-by-step roadmap for any upcoming construction and government IT projects; loop in private sector partners to ensure the process is streamlined and completed on-time. 

Learn more about government scheduling software and how it sends automated scheduling notifications to public workers across departments to ensure government accountability and that tasks are completed on time. 

3. Looping in Your Constituents

If there’s anything that constituents hate more than detours, closed off roads, and noisy construction, it’s not being in the loop on local government projects. With a well organized CIP, constituents can see a clear picture on how their money is being spent and which physical locations will be undergoing maintenance and for how long.

GovTip: With government technology, the physical location of infrastructure projects can be marked in a public facing, 3D local GIS map. Constituents can check the map for a clear idea on where detours, closures, etc. are occurring, and can see real-time updates directly from your government on the platform. 

4. Gauging Public Opinions

By opening your CIP to the community, constituents and local business owners can give their input on the proposed strategy. Perhaps you’ll find that a physical infrastructure project is less important to your constituents than high-speed Internet or vice versa. What better way to know than opening up the game plan for future budget expenditures for public discourse?

Read on for more information about How to Manage & Improve Local Public Meetings and get the most out of public outreach. 

5. Preventing Costly Expenditures

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail; If your local government doesn’t take the time to think through the full costs that will come from your infrastructure projects, not only will schedule delays occur, but costs will rise. That could translate to more debt, higher taxes, more of your budget being spent, and angered citizens. 

Assign certain government officials the task of budget allocation and tracking the progress of ongoing government projects with GovPilot’s planning and zoning software. 

How Can City Officials Maximize Government Budgets?

With high expectations and limited funds to work with, your local government needs to consider every dollar available. 

As you coordinate both physical and digital infrastructure projects in coming years, here are some ways to get more accomplished without spending more money:

1. Automate manual, tedious, time consuming tasks

Things like filing paperwork, sending out communications and notifications to community-members, and other administrative tasks can be automated with government clerks software to improve efficiency and save your government money. Technology known as robotic process automation will do the tasks for your local government, saving dollars that would have otherwise been spent paying administrative workers, and taking up valuable time. 

Government officials and relevant private partners will have access to relevant documentation in the government cloud, keeping the project organized and on schedule.  

2. Improve inspection and permitting processes

States like NJ and Florida have passed laws to move permit and inspection processes online for a reason. Oftentimes, these are the bureaucratic processes that slow down construction timelines. Online permit and license filing allows construction applications to be submitted 24/7 from your government website and for government officials to make approvals / denials from a cloud-based platform. 

As for inspections, the GovInspect platform schedules inspectors automatically for relevant projects and lets them record their findings with adjustable online forms for anything from building inspections to health inspections. Not only will the timeframe to complete inspections drop drastically, but they’ll also be more efficient as mobile inspections are automatically submitted to the cloud.  

Learn more about the recent state legislation regarding permitting and inspections that will likely be passed in more states soon!

If you are curious about how government permitting software works and will improve your government workflows, read on for more information. 

3. Assess government data to make infrastructure decisions

With government management software, the data your government collects will be automatically pulled into insightful and customizable financial dashboards. Looking at where money has been allocated in the past and its full impact will make it much easier to justify which future infrastructure projects make the most sense to pursue. 

4. Get input from constituents directly via a mobile application

Constituents should have a say in deciding the best uses for their tax dollars in your community. Via a digital government communications application, constituents can report concerns online to government officials directly. 

Pay attention to the public discourse in your community. It will make it easier to see which infrastructure projects matter most to your constituents, and will simplify the process of making a CIP draft official. 

GovTip: Ensure that all community-members' voices are being heard, and use citizen outreach to promote equity in your local government, and prioritize infrastructure projects that benefit all people in your community. 

Capital Improvement Planning - In Conclusion 

Planning ahead by prioritizing the key infrastructure projects in your neighborhood 5+ years out is integral to community development. A CIP is your opportunity to determine the projects your community needs most, to engage the public and gauge their opinions, and to recruit relevant private sector partners to keep your projects on schedule and as efficient as possible. 

As you consider making improvements to physical and digital infrastructure, your capital improvement plan will pave the path for years to come. 

To improve your processes and maximize your budgets, make the switch online with government management software. To learn more about the benefits of government automation, book a free demo. 


Local Government CIPs - FAQs

  • What Does CIP Stand For?

CIP stands for capital improvement planning and is the government process of organizing a schedule around infrastructure projects in a community for the next 4-6 years. A CIP is typically a key component of a full government financial improvement plan.. 

When organizing your capital improvement plan, establish a capital improvement budget and a capital improvement plan template to ensure that your upcoming years infrastructure projects are executed to plan.

  • What is a Capital Improvement Plan?

A capital improvement plan (CIP) is meant to dictate the highest priority infrastructure projects in a community and highlight the anticipated costs for goods and services, locations, and timeframes to implement said projects. 

Traditionally, CIPs have been used for managing physical infrastructure projects like constructing a new building or updating roads, bridges, etc. However, with more demand than ever for high speed internet, and federal government grants recently being passed for making broadband and IT improvements nationwide, your local government has to consider the future of its digital infrastructure when undertaking capital improvement projects as well. 

  • How Can Local Governments Raise Funds for Future Infrastructure Projects?

The American Rescue Plan Act and Infrastructure Investments and Job Act are putting trillions of dollars in the hands of local government officials to be spent on local infrastructure projects. Take the time to build a CIP that prioritizes the top infrastructure projects in your area, and pass the documentation over to relevant federal officials to get the project approved and funded. 

Doubling down on community development via increased online real estate auctions and digital business registration is a sure way to boost the local economy (and your budgets!) 

  • What types of infrastructure projects can be included in a CIP? 

Historically, capital improvement planning refers to physical infrastructure projects like improvements to existing buildings, roads, bridges, and parks or new expenditures like urban transformation and building more public spaces. 

In years to come, digital infrastructure will undoubtedly become a more integral component of a good CIP, as high speed broadband internet and modern information technology will be critical to draw businesses to your community, improve government processes, and mitigate the risk of cyber attacks. 

Read on: 

Local Government Disaster Preparedness Guide

Continuity of Government: Government Procedures During a Crisis

Local Government Accountability: Operating a Truly Ethical Local Government

Local Government IT Strategy: Improving IT Ticketing Workflows in Your Municipality.

Government Data Breach Prevention: Preventing Data Loss & Leaks

Modern Government Trends, Events, & Technology

Best Software for Government Procurement

Disaster Resilient Architecture 

Tornado Mitigation & Disaster Plan

Flooding Mitigation & Disaster Plan

Wildfire Mitigation & Disaster Plan

How to Build a 15-Minute City

Building Inspections 101: How Municipalities Can Improve Public Safety

Government Cybersecurity: How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

Municipal Planning: Reclaiming Your City Streets

How Local Governments Can Encourage Civic Engagement

Getting Into Local Government: How to Find Volunteers and Government Workers


https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/tv/2006/02/05/in-dc-capital-improvements/cde2ffe5-27fb-4e07-b049-b14b7b84abda/ By The Washington Post

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/31/business/economy/biden-infrastructure-plan.html by New York Times

https://nj.gov/treasury/omb/publications/23capital/SCIP-final.pdf By NJ.gov


https://6abc.com/i-95-collapsed-in-philadelphia-fire-overpass/13371656/ By ABC Action News 

Tags: Government Efficiency, Constituent Experience, Digital Transformation, Blog

Tags: Government Efficiency, Digital Transformation, GovTech, Disaster Recovery