Understanding forecasts

What are Project Previews?

The new Project Previews in Spending Forecast Center are excerpts from agency capital improvement plans and budgets that provide you with advance notification and information on capital projects and major equipment purchases planned for future years. Onvia designates a future project for a Project Preview based on the following criteria:

  • It must have budget designated for it and years of work assigned to it.
  • It must involve a significant capital expenditure or a major purchase of equipment (at least $100,000 for design/construction and at least $25,000 for equipment)
  • For construction, the project must begin in 2014 or later; for equipment purchases, the project must include budget in 2014 or later.

Each Project Preview will contain some or all of the following categories of information:

  • Total project budget
  • Project year(s)
  • Description
  • Status
  • Priority level
  • Funding source(s)
  • Links to PDFs of source documents and the PDF page numbers where the project appears
  • Budget by year
  • Project contacts

Onvia captures spending plans from agencies that represent 85% of expenditures at the state and local level. We evaluate plans and look for Project Previews based on the criteria outlined above.

You'll notice that some industry verticals have lots of Project Previews in the Online Database and others have relatively few. The reason for this disparity: The types of projects contained in capital improvement plans and annual budgets typically involve construction of infrastructure (roads, bridges, water-treatment plants, etc.) or public facilities (schools, fire stations, courthouses, community centers, etc.) or the purchase of heavy equipment or transportation equipment. As a result, the construction, architecture and engineering, IT/telecommunications and transportation verticals will have the preponderance of Project Previews in the database.

That being said, any other vertical category in the database can potentially be included in Project Previews (for example, one for emergency medical equipment that’s categorized in the Healthcare vertical).

Types of documents in the Spending Forecast Center

When searching for Project Previews and Plans & Budgets in Spending Forecast Center, you will find the following four types of documents:

The amount of money or resources earmarked by an agency for a particular institution, activity or time frame; an itemized summary of intended expenditures along with available/expected funds usually extending for one fiscal year.

Capital Improvement Plan:
Sometimes referred to as a CIP, this is a short-range plan, usually spanning four to six years, that identifies capital projects and equipment purchases, provides a planning schedule and identifies options for financing the plan.

Comprehensive Plan:
A plan of proposed capital fund expenditures and agency initiatives that outline policies and goals over a longer-term planning horizon (10+ years); typically these plans do not provide specifics about project budgets and timelines.

Transportation Improvement Plan:
A capital improvement plan focused specifically on transportation infrastructure and/or equipment. See the definition for capital improvement plan.

Typical information in capital plans and budgets

The length and detail contained with capital improvement plans and budgets vary greatly. Some documents are only a few pages of a spreadsheet while others can be 1,000 pages or more. Even though the amount of information may be different, there are certain data points all of these documents tend to include:

List of planned expenditures:
This can be quite detailed or just a few words. All plans contain the names of what they plan to spend money on. From this information companies tend to identify potential projects, purchases, and other opportunities that they want to target.

Amount of the expense:
How much the agency is planning to spend on the project or purchase.

Timing/timeframe: When the government agency plans to spend the money.

Funding source: This denotes how the agency will pay for the project or purchase. Is the initiative to come from the general fund or will a bond need to pass before work can start? From revenue bonds to federal grants, the various funding options should be considered in determining the likelihood a specific expenditure will be made.

How to use agency capital plans and budgets

Each business has its own specific needs and challenges as it competes in the public-sector marketplace. The Project Previews, plans and budgets in the Spending Forecast Center help address a number of these challenges.

Getting In early: The information within these documents represents how an agency intends to spend its money over the next 3-6 years. The capital planning and budgetary processes are fairly rigorous exercises, so the information in the plans is generally a good snapshot of the work that may result from them both near- and long-term. For architects, engineers, construction companies, IT firms, and other businesses that need notice before the bid or RFP announcement, these plans give them a chance to market their capabilities and be considered for the work.

Anticipate projects: With the market so competitive, being able to anticipate a bid or RFP that is a good fit for your business is a competitive advantage. Now you can call agencies in advance of the formal procurement to learn what you can about the work and build credibility and relationships. You’ll also be able to form partnerships and manage your own resources more effectively. When the projects come out for bid or RFP, your business is more than ready to respond.

Market sizing/evaluation: It's a real challenge to determine which cities, counties, states, and regions have the greatest potential for your business going forward. By aggregating the data found in Project Previews, capital plans and budgets by mar ket, businesses can get a good sense of where the money is going to be spent and for what. Tallying up the spending and types of work for specific geographies, businesses can compare markets and confidently identify the best locations and understand their potential.

Evaluate current opportunities: As your business pursues RFPs and bids, it is useful to know which projects may be the gateway to future work. By looking at the spending forecasts of the specific agencies issuing those procurements, you can make an informed evaluation concerning the future potential for similar work.

Purchase options for Spending Forecast Center

The Spending Forecast Center cannot be purchased by itself. It must be purchased with the Onvia Online Database.

Frequency of agency updates to spending plans

Plans are typically updated on a quarterly or annual basis, depending on the agency.

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