5 Ways To Improve Customer Service in Your Public Works Department

Public works departments ensure that the community’s infrastructure — which is seen and used daily by its residents — is maintained and improved regularly. But when residents don’t have visibility into the department’s timelines or processes, it can lead to frustrated community members and a lack of trust.
Rather than having residents wonder when a stormwater project will be scheduled, when a road will be fixed, or when a park will be reopened, investing in quality customer service brings a level of transparency and predictability to a process that many people have never seen before.

So, how can you introduce customer service to your community? Here are five steps you can consider today.

1. Give Visibility Into Your Public Works Projects

By nature, public works services are incredibly visible. When handled transparently, community leaders can show that these projects are helping to improve quality of life — after all, park redesigns, improved transportation, and other local projects are all beneficial once complete.

While projects are underway, it’s important to:

  • Use social media to provide real-time updates such as road closures, utility interruptions, and progress of maintenance and repair projects.
  • Communicate with residents frequently to keep them informed about current and future public works projects, as well as address any concerns or issues that residents may have.

1 in 3 roads in America need repair statistic

Source: ARTBA Bridge Report

2. Encourage Community Involvement and Feedback

Because community members are the ones who use public works services, their feedback is essential in improving those services.

  • Hold regular community events. These can be used to inform residents about public works services, as well as to gather feedback and suggestions from residents. Community events can also be used to showcase public works projects and highlight the benefits they bring to the community.
  • Use surveys and feedback forms to gather feedback from residents about their experiences with public works services. This feedback can be used to identify areas for improvement and make changes to improve the quality of service.

American wastewater statisticSource: Infrastructure Report Card

3. Enable Timely and Efficient Maintenance and Repairs

While maintenance and repairs are necessary to ensure that the community’s infrastructure is functioning correctly and is safe for residents to use, it’s important to provide timely and efficient work to minimize impact on residents’ lives.

  • Prioritize emergency repairs. Public works officials should have a system in place to respond quickly to emergency repair requests, such as water main breaks or sinkholes. Responding quickly to emergency repair requests can help prevent accidents and reduce the disruption to residents’ daily lives.
  • Communicate repair and maintenance status so that residents are aware of when a project is expected to be complete, and why the project is important for the community. Without these communications, public works projects can be seen as nuances versus essential services being performed for the overall safety and well-being of the local residents.

America's road conditions statisticsSource: USA Facts

4. Invest in Technology

Technology can be used to improve communication, streamline processes, and provide better service delivery.

  • Electronic permitting software makes it easy to stay organized, keep your team on track, and know which projects you have ongoing and the status of each. Having this information at your fingertips makes it easier to navigate conversations with the community and plan for future projects.
  • Use technology such as sensors and monitoring systems to detect issues before they become significant problems. This can help prevent accidents and reduce the time and cost of repairs.
  • Invest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS can be used to map public works infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and water treatment facilities. This can help public works officials identify areas that need maintenance or repair, as well as plan for future projects.

5. Measure the Success of Your Customer Service Improvements

It’s important to make sure that any customer service improvements you make are measured to ensure they are effectively helping your department and improving resident satisfaction.

  • Customer satisfaction surveys are an easy way to gather feedback from residents about their experiences with public works services. This feedback can be used to identify areas for improvement and make changes to improve the quality of service.
  • Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), such as repair response times or the number of potholes repaired during a designated time period, can help public works officials identify areas for improvement and make changes to improve the quality of service.

Improve Customer Service With Third-Party Support

Many times, customer service is a priority for communities, but lack of staffing and/or funding makes it difficult for community leaders to provide the level of support that is expected by local residents and businesses.

At CGA, we specialize in community infrastructure development and services, including civil engineering, permitting, inspections, and more. With local expertise and the backing of a national company, we have the staff on hand to inform your project, keep timelines moving, and make projects more seamless and less disruptive to your community.

Ready to see how we can help improve community relationships?

Learn more about our public works services.

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Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act (CCNA) Legislative Update

Thresholds under CCNA continuing contracts have increased

On July 1, CCNA thresholds for continuing services contracts increased under CS/CS/HB 441. The approved bill increases the maximum limit for CCNA continuing contracts for Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Surveying, and Architecture from an estimated per-project construction cost of $2 million to $4 million and increases the maximum limit for procuring a study from $200,000 per study to $500,000.

Read the bill details at

View a copy of the enacted bill HB441

Chapter No. 2020-127

House of Representatives Staff Analysis of the Bill

Download the flyer

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2020 World Landscape Architecture Month

American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) have coined April as World Landscape Architecture Month, where industry professionals and partners join to celebrate the designs of public and private spaces. CGA Florida’s LA team was invited to host an Instagram Takeover of the ASLA Instagram account. Our own Gianno Feoli, (Director, Landscape Urbanism and Design, CGA Florida), dedicated his time and talent to create the most engaging Instagram stories any of the ASLA audience had seen. We have posted these stories to the CGA Instagram account and you may view them there under our LA + Urbanism highlights reel. Congratulations to our Florida Landscape Architecture team!

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On February 12th, Jimmy Messick PE (Project Manager, CGA Florida) led the ASCE Broward 4th Annual Engineer for a Day event, which was hosted at the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) offices in Fort Lauderdale. James Messick, PE, the 2020 Engineer for a Day Chairman and Maria Scudella (Marketing Coordinator, Fort Lauderdale) coordinated CGA’s participation in this event.

The event is an exciting student outreach program created to encourage high school students to consider civil engineering as a future career field. Students from local Broward County schools (and one from Palm Beach County) submitted an essay that answered the question: What problems would a civil engineer face when designing a floating city? 

The day was divided up into (2) sessions, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The morning session comprised of, attendees interacting with local university students, professors and other engineering professionals, where they learned about the academic requirements necessary for completing an engineering degree.

During the afternoon portion, the students split up into smaller groups and toured local engineering firms. This allowed them to experience a “real engineering environment”. The students’ then, “job shadowed” at a firm that specialized in the discipline they favored.

The day was a success and CGA looks forward to participating in future E4aday events.

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United Way Tools for Schools

Tools for School

Saturday January 25th, 2020 marked the seventh annual United Way of Broward County Tools for Schools giveaway. Our CGA staff joined the United Way of Broward County to assist in their efforts to deliver school supplies to hundreds of Broward County public school teachers. More than 700 teachers from schools across Broward County received over $300,000 in free school supplies and gift cards. The supplies include crayons, No. 2 pencils, notebook paper, Crayola washable markers, Crayola colored pencils, pens, scissors, highlighters, folders, and glue. Teachers also received gift cards to buy additional materials.

Reading Pals Program 

Read Across South Florida with CGA and Dr. Seuss! 

For the third year in a row, CGA collaborated with Women United of Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties in their initiative “Read Across South Florida”. The outreach program, which is nationwide, promotes literacy throughout the community. For this effort, the book chosen was Dr. Seuss’s “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! 

Broward’s Read Across South Florida pledged to read this book to 26 classrooms, reaching approximately 520 students. United Way didn’t want to just read the book with the children; they wanted each child to go home with a book of their own, setting a goal of at least 520 books for Broward’s Read Across South Florida initiative.  

Kristina Ellis (Building Code Services Coordinator, CGA Florida), who is involved with United Way, wanted to assist in their efforts of achieving the goal set of 520 books. So, she set a target for CGA to sponsor at least 20% of the total goal (104 books)She requested the staff either purchase books on Amazon for an average cost of $6.50 or provide monetary donations (in any amount) that was pooled together to purchase books. 

In the end, CGA collected and donated 224 books Dr. Seuss books to READ ACROSS AMERICA! This was celebrated on February 28th in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, (which is on March 2). By accomplishing this goal this ensured there were enough books to take home for every child that was read to! The day was a collective effort of many volunteers who showed their solidarity to make a lasting impact in our community and in these children’s lives.  

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Silvia Vargas APA New Orleans Meeting

Silvia Vargas, AICP, Principal Planner in our Miami office, participated in the American Planning Association (APA) Leadership meetings taking place in New Orleans ahead of the organization’s annual National Planning Conference. Silvia is the elected American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Commissioner for Region III, which represents AICP planners from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and South America.

During the course of the conference, Silvia:

  • Provided mentoring to young women who are planning students or emerging professionals as part of APA’s Mentor/Match program.
  • Co-emcee’d the induction ceremony of the 2018 Class of AICP Fellows. The Fellow of AICP (FAICP) is the highest honor bestowed by the Institute to those AICP planners who have achieved excellence in professional practice, teaching and mentoring, research, public and community service, and leadership.
  • Led the College of Fellows’ annual meeting where the creation of a new Fellows Endowment fund was approved.
  • Attended the APA Foundation’s Donor Reception, celebrating the many planners who through their donations since 2017 have made it possible for the Foundation to award twice as many student scholarships and to provide planning assistance to communities in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, California, and other areas devastated by natural disasters last year.
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Silvia E. Vargas, AICP, LEED AP Joins CGA

Calvin, Giordano & Associates, Inc. (CGA) welcomes Silvia E. Vargas to the CGA Miami office as a Principal Planner. Silvia joins CGA with 25 years of public and private sector experience in community planning and design. In her new role she will pursue and manage a variety of planning projects, including comprehensive plans and area plans, as well as providing public engagement support for other types of CGA projects.

Silvia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Studies and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Kansas. Prior to joining CGA, Silvia ran her own planning consultancy, Silvia E. Vargas Community Planning, LLC (SEVCP), where she concentrated on helping local governments and nonprofits design and execute creative planning processes to engage their stakeholders.

Silvia’s work includes many comprehensive and strategic plans; visioning, neighborhood, district, downtown and corridor plans; grant preparation; parks and recreation master plans; institutional campus master plans; site-scale planning; and land acquisition program for recreational and environmental preservation purposes.

Her efforts have been recognized with numerous awards and speaking opportunities.

Silvia is actively involved in the advancement of the planning profession through the American Planning Association (APA), currently as a nationally-elected Commissioner of the American Institute of Certified Planners Commission. She has consulted as an expert to The American Architectural Foundation’s Sustainable Cities’ and City Managers’ Design Academies. She is also a member of ULI’s Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI).