NEXT Practices Initiative


CGA’s Best Practices are considered the definitive guide for underground safety and damage prevention. With three new practices approved in 2019, Best Practices 17.0 now includes 161 practices agreed to by consensus. By design, the Best Practices focus on the “identification of the best practices in place.” As we look to the future of damage prevention and face increasingly complex challenges, we are obligated as an industry to encourage innovation and incentivize the development of damage prevention solutions for the future – the Next Practices.

The Next Practices concept was formed during CGA’s inaugural Damage Prevention Roundtable, which brought together leadership across CGA’s 16 stakeholder groups to discuss challenges and solutions that can help reduce damages to critical underground infrastructure and ensure a safe environment for those who work and live near these important assets. The group discussed fundamental challenges and obstacles to reducing damage, current limitations to overcoming these obstacles and potential solutions.

With this in mind, CGA is pleased to announce the establishment of the Next Practices Initiative. This initiative will focus on driving innovative solutions to solve the challenges we face as an industry and will be guided by damage prevention leaders. The Next Practices will be based on industry data and analysis including DIRT data as well as information received from committees, members and damage prevention stakeholders regarding the biggest challenges facing the damage prevention industry.


The Next Practices Initiative will:

  • Encourage innovation and new practices to address the most critical damage prevention challenges.
  • Document and share case studies and data supporting new and effective practices; and
  • Incentivize damage prevention stakeholders to develop and support innovative solutions.


Using industry data, quantitative surveys and member feedback, the Next Practices Initiative will clearly identify, communicate, and focus the damage prevention industry on the most pressing issues facing the industry today.  The Next Practices Initiative will focus on addressing critical damage prevention challenges through three key mechanisms:

Best Practices

  • Does an existing Best Practice address this challenge? If so, is the Best Practice widely implemented, enforced, and communicated? In places where it has been implemented, has it been shown to be effective? Is there data to support the effectiveness?
  • Is there an existing and proven practice that should be considered as a Best Practice?
  • If all stakeholders cannot agree on a Best Practice, can data be used to support consensus?

New Practices or Programs

  • Is there a lack of documented practices in place to address the issue at hand?
  • Has the current practice(s) been in place for some time but not been effective in addressing the challenge?
  • Are there case studies/pilot projects exploring potential solutions to this challenge?
  • Is data available that suggests a new practice or program may be effective?
  • How can stakeholders monitor and measure the progress of new practices as they are implemented?


  • What technology is available to address this issue? Has this technology/solution been proven to be effective?
  • If effective technology exists to address the challenge, what are the barriers to implementation and adoption?
  • How can current (or new technology) be applied to this challenge?

Structure and Deliverables

Next Practices Advisory Group

The Next Practices Initiative will be overseen by leaders in the damage prevention industry who will be part of the Next Practices Advisory Group. Members of the Next Practices Advisory Group will be appointed by CGA’s Board of Directors and will represent stakeholders across the damage prevention industry. This Next Practices Advisory Group will consolidate the most critical damage prevention challenges into a clear call-to-action for the damage prevention industry. The advisory group will establish a process to communicate information to the industry and to collect responses, information and data to support Next Practices.

  • Bekkedahl, Larry – Portland General Electric
  • DeBonis, Eric – Southwest Gas Corporation
  • Douglas, Randy – Tierra Contracting
  • Fluharty, John – Quanta Services
  • Fordham, Terry L. – UtiliQuest
  • Henschel, Jerrod – Equix
  • Hinrichs, Josh – ELM Companies
  • Hoeferlin, Craig R. – Spire
  • Holland, James – Kinder Morgan
  • Hunziker, Brent – Whitaker Construction Company
  • Sampson, Roger – New York 811, Inc.
  • Service, Kevin – Verizon
  • Smith, Greg – Shell Pipeline Company LP
  • Somers, John R. – Association of Equipment Manufacturers
  • Stovall, Chris – Texas 811
  • Watley, Theresa – City of Charlotte
  • Wingate, James – USA North
  • Zimmerman, Monty – City of Lenexa

Working Committees

CGA’s committees will play an important role in supporting the Next Practices Initiative by providing expertise in relevant areas, generating industry information, providing data to support the identification and evaluation of top challenges, and identifying and developing innovative solutions.  The purpose of the Next Practices will not be to reach consensus on a specific practice, but to encourage innovation to address issues facing the damage prevention industry.


The initial deliverable to the industry will include the use of data, quantitative surveys and member feedback to clearly identify the most critical damage prevention challenges/opportunities that need to be solved today.  CGA will release an annual report on the critical challenges and results of the Next Practices Initiative. The annual report will address how the damage prevention industry can highlight early implementation of innovative successes and communicate these successes to the broader industry.


We are excited about the future of damage prevention, and we look forward to working with each of you to help drive innovative solutions that will prevent damage to underground utility infrastructure and protecting those who live and work near these important assets through the shared responsibility of our stakeholders.  Please contact us with any questions.