Based on our annual reader survey of budget expectations, we declared 2008 the Year of Asset Management.

Respondents were getting more money for maintenance than the year before, which was surprising because the economy was tanking. Many were reaping the benefits of asset-management programs they'd sweated and struggled and strained to implement.

A typical comment was like this Virginia engineer's: “Hopefully, this will show lack of resources."

Then the economy crashed.

Six years later, public works departments seem to be moving from survival mode back to proactive mode. Yet according to preliminary results of this year's survey, respondents who don't have or plan on implementing a program out-number those who do.

So what's going on? If this software helps with planning preventative maintenance, justifying requests, and proving good faith effort to regulatory agencies, why aren't more departments jumping on board?

There was a lot of attrition during the Great Recession and EPA didn't let up on enforcement of water-quality standards during that time. I suspect that, for many departments, there's not much (if any) money left over for something that doesn't have to be done NOW.

But I could be wrong. If you haven't already, please take a few moments to complete our questionnaire so we can get as broad a response as possible. We've gotten 350 responses and would like to at least match last year's 570.

Thank you to those who did take the time to respond.