Project management in the local government field is becoming of increasing importance as modern construction projects involve an increasing range of disciplines, become more complex and involve larger sums of money at currently high interest rates. Cost control on projects is an important part of the project management process.
This Research Report focuses on job cost control practiced in the local government sector and attempts to identify how current procedures could be improved. The methodology adopted in the Study has been to firstly review available literature on the subject and from this, develop a model or ‘ideal system’ for job cost control. A survey was then conducted amongst some thirteen local authorities in the South East region of Queensland together with a further seven other government organizations and private civil contracting firms. From these surveys, a comparison was drawn between the 'ideal' model system and what was actually being practised in the various authorities and organizations. From this comparison a number of recommendations were formulated to promote improvement of, current practice. The Study also deals with a number of issues identified as being areas for further research and development in this field.
The main recommendations arising out of the Study were for new systems to take more account of the project management needs of end users rather than concentrating just on the accounting functions as has tended to be the practice in the past. To facilitate this, a user group with representatives from the Local Government Engineers Association and Institute of Municipal Management, is suggested. This group should develop goals and objectives for systems, recognizing the need for project management, and formulate a specification for a possible system that could be standardized for use throughout the local government industry.
Based on the needs of users, identified from the surveys, 'ideal' systems should be simple and flexible and in this regard PC based systems have much to commend them. Systems should be linked integrally with asset management systems. They should have the capability of handling daily costing and of being able to concentrate only on certain critical aspects of jobs identified by users. Desirably I there should be an ability to generate exception reports and the use of graphics to aid information dissemination should be available in the system. Systems should be able to generate performance indices and costing information should also be better utilized in the estimating process.
New technology developments indicate some exciting prospects ahead for further development of job cost control systems. As computer systems become more powerful and portable, we can look forward to further decentralization of input and the use of electronic data loggers for input. The overall aim should be to best utilize information handling to improve organization effectiveness and efficiency.