Public Administration ETDs

Publication Date



Cost control and productivity programs are beginning to be formalized in publicly-owned community water systems. Standardization of the methodology for establishing and implementing a productivity program through the use of the systems approach might result in less cost for water utilities, especially if a model or design is available for general use in the industry. The hypothesis for the paper is that it is possible to develop a model or design for establishing and conducting a productivity program in publicly-owned community water systems. The procedure used in addressing the problem was selection of three utility systems who had initiated productivity programs. The three utilities studied are the Seattle, Washington City Water Department, Jacksonville, Florida Public Works Department Water Division, and Albuquerque, New Mexico City Water Resources Department. Selection of these three was made after a review of literature available and through discussion with utility management personnel, knowledgeable on the subject. The methodology used was personal interviews of management personnel on site in Seattle and Jacksonville by management of the Albuquerque Water Resources Department. A questionnaire composed of general questions was used as a base for open questioning of interviewees. Reports and articles, management directives and management reports and sample productivity measurement forms were obtained and analyzed. The results of the research indicate that no model or design is available for general use on the subject, but parts of a program, such as the forms used for productivity measurement, are available. Research indicates that a model or design would be useful for the utilities industry in minimizing costs and maximizing results of programs. A model or design for use in implementing a productivity program has been developed and explained in this thesis. The model is composed of four phases: Pre-plan or Concept Phase; Initiation Phase; Implementation Phase; and Evaluation Phase. Each phase is composed of steps which should be followed in order of occurrence. The model emphasizes the Pre-plan or Concept Phase on the basis that proper planning can facilitate early identification of problems and provide tentative solutions. The model points out the importance of relating management reporting on productivity and the uniform water utility cost accounting system recommended by the American Water Works Association. Several conclusions are developed from the thesis:

(1) A model or design having a systems approach to productivity generally is not available to management of publicly-owned community water systems, although forms used in implementation of programs have been made available on a limited basis.

(2) In implementing productivity programs management seems to give cursory attention or to overlook entirely the Pre-plan or Concept Phase by tending to employ outside consultants and turning the project over to them. In a systems approach the Concept Phase is the most important and it appears necessary that top management participate or even control the activity in this stage.

(3) Management involvement and decision making in the Concept Phase allows evaluation of the need for a consultant. Use of consultants, although an accepted approach, should be evaluated because of expense and because program success is not guaranteed by consultant use.

(4) The greatest problem in developing a model or design for general utility industry use is caused by the wide variance of management resources available. There are thousands of water utilities from small in size to large in size. The model must be usable for those with minimal management resources as well as those with maximum management resources.

(5) The model developed in the thesis does affirm the hypothesis. The model can be used for establishing and conducting a productivity program in publicly-owned community water systems.

Degree Name

Public Administration

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Public Administration

First Committee Member (Chair)

Albert H. Rosenthal

Second Committee Member

Ferrel Heady

Third Committee Member

Leonard Arnold Stitelman



Document Type