A local government engineering department undertakes many responsibilities as it serves its community. Local engineering employees review requests for construction and permitting, approve building plans, and store data around building development, just to name a few tasks.
But manual processes impede the efficiency and effectiveness of this critical work. Without a tech-focused modern engineering department strategy, workflows are tedious and slow-moving. Fortunately, government technology can streamline this work and make completing your department’s day-to-day activities easier.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the responsibilities of local government engineering departments. Then, we’ll highlight how engineering software can improve efficiency at municipal and county engineering departments, from assisting in the paperwork approval process to making it easier to store records, schedule inspections, and more.
What Are the Responsibilities of the Engineering Department?
The engineering department ensures that all construction and infrastructure projects in a city or county are safe and aligned with the long-term development goals of a community. Local government engineers contribute to long-term planning (what types of buildings will be built and where) by reviewing planning and development proposals.
Additionally, county and municipal government engineers enforce local codes and regulations during building development and construction. To accomplish this, engineers might review construction permit requests and conduct site visits to ensure a developer’s building plans and prototypes are in alignment.
Employees in a local government engineering department also conduct land surveys for public projects and development proposals. For example, an engineer might visit a site where a community wants to develop a public park. Then, they contribute to the design of site plans and help hire contractors to complete municipal projects.
How Can Technology Improve Engineering Department Processes?
Government engineering software makes it significantly easier for local government engineering departments to complete complicated and essential tasks for the community. Below we dive into some specific ways that modern government technology improves workflows and processes so you can actualize your government engineering strategy.
Automation of scheduling inspections
Engineers must complete inspections to ensure a project aligns with its site plans. Instead of relying on inefficient email to schedule inspections, choose engineering software like GovInspect to automate scheduling and fee collection processes. Inspectors know when they’re needed and where, and building developers can pay related fees directly from your government website.
Learn more about Modern Government Fee & Fine Processing.
Digital permit filing and approvals
Digital permitting enables individuals to apply for construction permits on the engineering department’s website rather than visiting the office or calling engineering employees. This is particularly useful given the various permits the engineering department oversees, including permits for:
- Driveways, curbs, sidewalks, etc.
- Floodplain development
- Land use application
- Board of adjustment application
- Accessory structure application
- Lot split or line adjustment
- Occupancy use
Government software streamlines the process for requesting these permits and makes it easier for the engineering department to receive / approve permit requests and store information as needed.
Learn about other ways to support Modern Local Government Innovation.
Mobile field devices for recording paperwork
Engineers are often in the field conducting site visits, reviewing plans, or communicating with developers. Mobile government field devices make it easier for engineers to complete these tasks and take notes while in the field. As a result, employees can take down more detailed information and have their notes for each property automatically stored in the cloud.
Digital record storage
Digitizing public record storage means all employees, including engineers, can access the same information and records online. Rather than spending time sifting through paper records, employees can access cloud-based files as they’re needed.
Additionally, digital record storage reduces the likelihood that critical data is lost (for example, a resident’s permit application). Digital record storage is a vital part of any government performance management strategy, which we’ll discuss in more detail soon.
Digital RFP notifications for contractors
Engineering software helps the engineering department and contractors track the status of RFPs. When a department releases a bid as part of a digital RFP, contractors receive a notification and can easily review their bid’s status after submission.
As bids are submitted, they’re stored in one location, making it straightforward for the engineering department to review them. As a result, contractors and departmental employees save time with reduced back-and-forth communication, and projects move forward more efficiently.
Integration with International Code Council’s Code Connect API
GovPilot’s engineering software integrates with the International Code Council’s Code Connect API, which provides engineers with digital code access. Local government engineers can search this module for digital codes, then quickly import them into relevant projects. This means engineers don’t need to spend time trying to find the building code they’re looking for in paper handbooks, helping to speed up engineering workflow processes.
Recurring tasks for asset maintenance
The engineering department also plays a critical role in maintaining government infrastructure. Individuals can use engineering software to remind themselves of required inspections. This ensures that engineers maintain assets regularly and keep residents and employees safe.
Speaking of government assets, learn more about implementing a Local Government Fleet Management Services Strategy.
Digital communications within and outside the department
Effective communication is critical for engineers. Software enables digital communications within and outside the department (such as with external contractors). As a result of digital communication tools, employees can easily communicate with government departments they work closely with, including construction, planning, and zoning. These tools streamline projects requiring multiple departments’ input or work, such as a street project where engineers, traffic technicians, and street employees must all be involved.
How Can Governments Modernize Their Communications Strategy? Here’s what to know.
Real-time data collection
Local engineering department software also facilitates real-time data collection. This automated data collection is beneficial for analyzing areas for improvement as part of your civic engineering strategy. For example, engineering software can track the number and type of permits processed or the number of passed inspections.
Data from the engineering department can inform future work and where your department might improve (for example, if people regularly fail inspections, you might undertake more education around requirements). As a result, real-time data collection plays a pivotal role in government strategic planning.
Accurate maps are a critical part of an engineer’s work. GIS maps make it easy to digitally view the locations of infrastructure projects. Engineers can also use GIS to dial into specific information, such as a property’s size or who owns it. Employees can also view in-progress applications and permit requests by location.
How to Use Data from Engineering Software to Make Educated Decisions
Without tracking accurate data, it would be impossible to know whether you’re efficiently and effectively completing all municipal engineering responsibilities. Government engineering software makes it easier to set and track key performance indicators so employees can determine where they need to improve. Because software tracks data automatically, it doesn’t add to the workload of busy employees.
For example, Bexar County, Texas started using Engineering Software and had been tracking how long it took them to process permits. As a result of using software, they determined that their permit application review and approval process went from 30 days to only three days after submission. In this way, software offered the dual benefit of making data tracking easier and streamlining the process and workflow.
Improve the Engineering Department’s Organizational Culture and Workflows
Government engineering software can also improve organizational culture and workflows in your department. We discuss how below.
Leadership best practices
Engineering software makes it possible for supervisors, managers, and executive leadership to practice leadership best practices so everyone can tackle today’s modern local government challenges. Software streamlines communications between employees and across divisions, ensuring that employees at all levels of the organization are kept in the loop. As a result of this improved communication, employees feel trusted and supervisors feel confident that employees are completing critical work on time.
Recruitment and retention
Software streamlines the day-to-day workflow of employees, which fosters a stellar work environment and facilitates better recruitment and retention. Because software reduces the time required to complete critical tasks like processing permit applications or conducting inspections, employees experience a healthier work-life balance and less after-hours work.
Here are more helpful government human resources tips:
- Modern Local Government Human Resource Strategy
- Local Government Employee Recruitment: Everything to Know
- Local Government Employee Retention: Keep Public Workers Around
- How to Use Benefits to Entice Government Workers
Working with contractors
A streamlined workflow also improves your department’s relationship with external contractors. Transparent work processes make it easier for contractors to undertake (and meet!) organizational expectations around their work. Additionally, software enables your organization to make the most efficient use of government funds possible. That’s because more efficient workflow processes often translate into shorter project timelines. In turn, this means lower contractor project costs.
Learn more about how your local engineering department can support great relationships with government business partners.
Use GovPilot to Modernize Your Engineering Department
GovPilot’s government software provides numerous benefits to engineering departments, from streamlining data collection to improving communications and automating scheduling. If you’re ready to streamline your internal processes, GovPilot’s government engineering software can help.
Don’t hesitate to book a consultation to learn more about how we can help you actualize your engineering department strategy today.
County & Municipal Engineering FAQs
Why Do Local Engineering Departments Need Government Software?
Government software solutions for engineering departments store critical data in the cloud that can be accessed in a few clicks, streamline communications within the department and with external partners like other departments and contractors, offer permitting and licensing applications from a government website, and allow for inspections to be completed on mobile field devices like tablets and phones.
These processes improve efficiency and save money previously spent on man hours.
What Do Local Engineering Departments Do?
Municipal and county engineering departments handle:
- Enforcing local regulations
- Inspecting infrastructure projects
- Developing long-term community infrastructure goals
- Maintaining public assets
- Conducting land surveys
- Making site visits to ensure projects match original plans
- Enforcing basic machining standards for safety and security of critical engineering equipment
Read on for the latest government trends and tips: