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NYS Comptroller


The Academy for New York State's Local Officials

Capital Planning and Budgeting: A Tutorial for Local Government Officials

Module 1 - The Capital Improvement Plan

Needs Assessment

Maintaining inventory systems is crucial to another step in the capital planning process - performing a comprehensive needs assessment.

The purpose of a needs assessment is to make a realistic appraisal of the demand for current and future capital assets. This assessment is then compared to the capital assets inventory to determine where gaps exist. The art of capital planning is to then analyze how to prioritize these needs and meet as many as possible in an efficient manner. It also helps government officials to avoid blindly replacing existing assets when they break down or critically deteriorate without looking at alternatives or competing needs.

Prioritizing capital needs ensures that the best possible use is made of capital funds and that needs are appropriately balanced with what a municipality can afford.

A needs assessment can be relatively simple or complex, depending on the needs and capabilities of a municipality. It involves developing criteria based on the local government's or school district's policies and plans and prioritizing capital items based on the degree to which they meet these criteria.

  Next: Developing Criteria