The top five services most popular services provided by AEC firms hasn't changed in several years (see 'Technology trend' graphic), and likewise the remaining top 10 answers are no surprise: watersheds/water resources (23%), water treatment (21%), traffic control (21%), maintenance of public buildings (18%), asset management (15%). Readers also added a few of their own categories: transit engineering, sign inventory, environmental permits, and buildings.

Last year, we began asking if departments were using AEC firms for certain services more than they had in the past. While a third of respondents aren't relying more on outside expertise, water-related services topped the list for those who said they were. This year, wastewater/stormwater treatment, watersheds/water resources, water treatment, and pipeline construction/rehabilitation accounted for 57% of responses (56% in 2011).

Departments' use of AEC firms remained steady this past year, with 60% reporting 10 or fewer projects involving an outside firm. Half of respondents expect this trend to stay the same for yet another year, while 20% expect it to increase and 16% expect it to decrease.