Capital improvement plans 101 and the benefits of GovWin IQ Lead Alerts

Published: April 09, 2015

BudgetContract AwardsForecasts and Spending

A capital improvement plan (CIP) is a useful document that state, local and federal governments use to organize and prioritize projects. CIPs tend to forecast one, five, 10, or even 20 years in the future, and are a vital organizational step in the procurement process. They allow an entity to set department-specific goals, rank projects by priority, allocate funds, and organize business plans.

On the procurement side, capital improvement plans allow vendors to track a project through its life cycle and get a better sense of when to expect a solicitation. Due to the nature of CIPs, the procurement forecast provides ample time for vendors to prepare for an upcoming bid, and sales reps to build a strong business pipeline. 

How does a capital improvement plan come to fruition?  


1. Requirements are determined - An entity identifies a need and determines requirements for a project. Once a plausible plan is outlined to fulfill that need, the project is submitted for review and approval.

2. Projects are approved - Higher authorities (city council, a mayor, a governor, etc.) will review projects submitted for CIP consideration and deny or approve items based on importance and available resources. This step often correlates with creating a budget.

3. Funding streams are identified – Once a project is approved, funding streams are identified. Budgets allocated to CIP projects can stem from multiple streams including general funds, special funds, bonds, etc. Funding sources often depend on the type and size of a project. It’s also important to note that, once funding has been secured, a project timeline may not mimic the funding timeline. Depending on what is being purchased, a payment plan may need to be outlined and adjusted. Some projects will start with a bulk payment, whereas others will rely on annual payments.

4. Timelines are established – Once funding is identified, timelines are established for project execution. This provides the entity and vendors with an estimated guide for when each step of the project should occur.

5. Projects are published in a CIP - At this point, projects have been approved and funding has been secured (or in the process of being secured, depending on the legislative season). Now, projects are formally published in a capital improvement plan and set in motion. Vendors can track a project’s progress as the CIP is updated (often annually). 

What happened to my project?

Sometimes a project can be forecasted far in advance, but is never executed. This happens when higher-priority or unexpected projects arise and take precedence on timelines and funding. When this occurs, less urgent projects are often pushed back a year or two. If a project is put on the back burner, entities will sometimes try and fulfill the need in another manner, such as combining it with another project or eliminating a formal procurement process. This is why it is important to keep an eye on CIPs and compare projects year to year. As an entity grows and changes, so does its needs, and a CIP will reflect that.

What other information can I get from a CIP?

Capital improvement plans offer much more than a list of projects an entity is interested in pursuing. Budget details and dollar amounts for specific projects are typically outlined in a CIP, and organizational charts, department heads, and contact details can also be included with each project. Some CIPs even include funding sources per project. In these cases, various contributors to capital funding (i.e. taxes, revenues, grants, etc.) will be listed. Further, capital improvement plans can also include historical data of expenditures and how entities typically allocate their budget.

Where can I find a CIP?

Capital improvement plans are mostly found on government entity websites, usually under finance, budget, public works, or planning department sections. It’s important to note that CIPs are often part of an annual budget document and not clearly posted as a separate document; therefore, it’s worth reviewing budget files to see whether a capital improvement list is included. Also, if an entity does not post CIP or budget documents online, it never hurts to reach out to someone in the finance department to see if one can be sent directly.

Isn’t there an easier way to locate these documents? (Yes! GovWin IQ Lead Alerts)

Think of GovWin IQ Lead Alerts as the first hint of a project – that initial heads up from a CIP that lets vendors know what an agency’s needs are how their products or services might align with those needs. Now, reading through a CIP or budget document is no easy task; they are often in excess of a hundred pages and quite time consuming to digest. Naturally, contractors aren’t able to devote hours a day to researching and reading through these forms; they are focused on winning business and face-to-face interaction with potential clients. Again, this is where GovWin IQ has you covered.

Our analysts are scouring government websites and reviewing state and local capital improvement plans on a daily basis to identify new projects across all vertical market and provide updates on past CIP initiatives.

State and local leads coverage includes:

  • 50 states
  • 366 metropolitan statistical areas (Nearly 3,000 cities and counties)
  • Special districts, public universities, and independent school districts

What projects details are included in a Lead Alert?

  • Project value: Funding identified by government agency
  • Lead year(s): The year or range of years a project is budgeted
  • Associated documents: The source from which the lead was generated (budget, CIP, article, etc.)
  • Key contact(s): Primary and secondary contacts associated with a project
  • Project ID: Government-specified project number or code
  • Related GovWin IQ content: Tracked Opportunities, Bid Notifications and Lead Alerts
  • Primary and secondary offerings
  • Vertical classification

GovWin IQ members can access leads simply by filtering on Lead Alerts when generating opportunity searches. An icon with an L will distinguish leads from tracked opportunities and bid notifications.

It is recommended that you set up a save search to receive new leads daily or weekly. Please see your member advisor if you have any questions or would like assistance in navigating searches. 

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.