Tag Archives: transparency

The Transparency Project: Part 5 – Who Selects the CIP Projects?

10 May

This is the fifth and final post from the Transparency series, following the steps of the Mode Shift CIP game board. We conclude our study of the City of Omaha’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), with a look at these questions:

  • Who selects the CIP projects?
  • How are citizens engaged in the process?

City Charter and CIP Process

The CIP text quotes the City Charter and explains the process used to formulate the CIP:


Here is a summary of the differences between the process specified in the CIP and City Charter, and the actual process as we discovered in our analysis and after talking with many people working in City Hall:

City Charter and CIP Actual Process
The Planning Director ranks projects for alignment with the City’s Master Plan. The Planning Department has no records of any ranking.
Unranked projects will not be funded…unless the Planning Department fails to do the ranking. The Planning Department has no records of any ranking, so we assume the loophole is used every year.
There are several other mentions of the project ranking process and how it assures an unbiased, systematic selection process that aligns with the City Master Plans. The Planning Department has no records of any ranking.
“The Transportation Master Plan sets forth the vision and goals for the transportation network in Omaha” The Transportation Master Plan has been largely ignored and neglected.
The CIP formulation process has no provisions for public input. Unfortunately, this is true. Comments to City Council in January and February may make their way to the selection committee, but there is no formal process.

In short, the City Charter is not followed and the process is closed to the public. The City says one thing and does another in a process that is closed to the public.

The Transportation Master Plan

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The Transparency Project: Part 2 – What Is the Fund Source?

2 May

To catch up on the Transparency Project, you can review our Introduction to Capital Improvement, and Transparency Project: Part 1 – Capital Improvement Program, What’s Inside

This is the second blog post from our Transparency Project series on the Capital Improvement Program (CIP). We’re following the Mode Shift CIP game board and we’ve reached step 2: A look at the CIP’s funding.

We started by looking at the details inside each of the three bins shown above. Along the way, we question a surge in the use of City funds, a plunge of the federal contribution, phantom local funds, and millions of work left out of the CIP.

Three Main Sources

We can divide the $322 million 2017-2022 capital budget for transportation projects into 3 main sources:

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The Transparency Project: Capital Improvement — An Introduction

28 Apr

As part of its Transparency Project, Mode Shift has been studying the City of Omaha’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for over a year.

Basics of the CIP

Let’s look at the CIP’s goals, as described in the CIP itself.

The Capital Improvement Program should provide the “fiscal status and the physical progress” of the City’s projects in Transportation,  Environment, Parks and Recreation, Public Safety, and Public Facilities.

For each project, the CIP is to include:

  • A description, the total cost, and any change in status
  • Amount of City funds spent the previous year
  • Amount of funds appropriated for the current year
  • Amount of funds budgeted for the next six years

The funds are broken down by source: City funds (mainly Street Bonds for transportation projects), federal funds, and other local funds.

Projects are to be ranked to ensure they align with the City master plans. Project lists are to be compiled by various task forces, examined for conformity with the master plan, reviewed by the Mayor’s CIP Priority Committee, and matched with the budget.

Updated annually, the CIP is approved by the City Council in August and is to be published shortly after.

That’s the theory.

Studying the CIP Is Fun

Our transparency team looked at a lot of details, not just the numbers inside the most recent CIP, but also the numbers in the previous 8 CIPs. We studied the process for generating the CIP. This involved visits to City Council, City planners, the mayor’s office, City finance, and MAPA (the agency that coordinates the disbursements of federal funds).

As you can imagine, the resulting material is pretty dry. It is doubtful that the words “Fun” and “CIP” were ever grouped together, but that’s what we will do with the five blogs will follow the steps on Mode Shift’s CIP board game, our fun look at serious issues:

Click on the thumbnail above for a view of the Mode Shift CIP Game Board. 
Objective: A Better City Continue reading