As the Assistant Program Manager at the UNC Environmental Finance Center (EFC), I work ‘behind the scenes’ on internal projects related to the every day management of our center. In my role facilitating organizational development at the EFC, I recently spent time researching project management best practices. At the EFC, we help communities design, implement, and finance sustainable environmental projects and programs, and not surprisingly, strong project management structure is often a critical component of any sustainable program. While some of this research was specific to the EFC, many of the lessons I discovered are broadly applicable, whether you’re working for a small water utility or a statewide initiative. Through this post, I would like to share four easy steps to streamlined project management for any size project.
In honor of Infrastructure Week (May 11-15, 2015), we dug into a report published by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in March. Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2014 reports on trends in federal, state, and local government spending on infrastructure, using data acquired from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This graph illustrates the federal funding trends for water and wastewater utilities between 1956 and 2014, in 2014 dollars. Funding levels have decreased dramatically — nearly fourfold between 1980 and 2014. The consequence for communities nationwide is even more significant when considering that a majority of the federal funds in the 1970s and 1980s were provided as grants, while the majority of the funds provided since the 1990s have primarily been loans.
CBO’s report includes more detailed breakdowns on federal, state, and local spending on water and wastewater infrastructure. We published a blog post looking at four other trends in public spending on water and wastewater utilities. We also posted an Excel spreadsheet with the data here.
This summer, the Environmental Finance Center is taking its interest in how environmental projects are funded on the road through a three-week Applied International Environmental Finance program in Quito, Ecuador. The EFC, in collaboration with TripleSalto –a nonprofit organization that generates integral solutions to social, environmental, and economic needs through strategic alliances – decided to sponsor this course based on growing interest in applied international environmental finance projects among current Public Administration, Public Health, and Environmental Engineering Masters students at UNC-Chapel Hill. Continue reading