States Collaborate to Decreases Costs, Solve Common Problems

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RBDMS Semi-Annual Conference

Twice a year, staff from state oil and gas regulatory agencies gather for a few days of RBDMS training, socializing, and conversation about challenges shared across the nation. Some states like Utah and Mississippi have been RBDMS states since the 1990’s. Others, like California and Idaho are new. Despite the differences from state to state, much of the language and the problems discussed are the same. The work done at these conferences and throughout the year is made available to the RBDMS community at large for any state to benefit from.

Member states have been part of the development of RBDMS since the beginning. Tools built in one state are improved upon and implemented in another state, sharing the cost across agencies.“It is money well spent when we can take what other states have done and implement it ourselves,” said Amanda Trotter, Technology Assistance Section Chief with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. “You are taking U.S. Department of Energy funds, adding state funds, and creating something that can be developed in other states. Through this iterative process, RBDMS is always getting better. The outcome is greater than the sum of its parts.” 

Sharing Data

All RBDMS code is shared in the GWPC’s GitHub repository and made available to all RBDMS states, free of charge. States then come up with a budget to take that code base and customize it to their needs. Improvements that can be used by all members are pushed back into the repository for future implementations.

“Clearly every state needs a software system, but the quality of the RBDMS database is much higher and the cost much lower than if each state had done it by themselves,” said Adam Peltz, an attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund who has studied RBDMS closely. “By pooling resources and creating a product together, they are able to tailor it to their individual needs, have license-free use, and save an untold amount of taxpayer dollars. I don’t know of any parallels anywhere else in government.”

RBDMS Semi-Annual ConferenceIn addition to the cost sharing, RBDMS comes with a built-in community of professionals who are facing the same challenges. “All the states do the same thing even if we do it slightly differently,” said Dan Pearson, IT/Network Director with the Arkansas Oil & Gas Commission. “We can pick up the phone and call Amanda in New York or Dan in Utah and ask if they’ve come across a certain question or how they addressed a certain issue. We can work on things together and build off of one another instead of reinventing the wheel.”

For members, the community is one of the main benefits of RBDMS. “To me, the beauty of RBDMS is the people,” said Mark Bohrer, UIC & Treating Plant Manager with the North Dakota Industrial Commission Oil and Gas Division. “The RBDMS Core database is great, but what makes it all work is the people. We are working to solve real problems together so we can all do our jobs better.”

“Clearly every state needs a software system, but the quality of the RBDMS database is much higher and the cost much lower than if each state had done it by themselves,” said Adam Peltz, an attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund who has studied RBDMS closely. “By pooling resources and creating a product together, they are able to tailor it to their individual needs, have license-free use, and save an untold amount of taxpayer dollars. I don’t know of any parallels anywhere else in government.”