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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies Summary Some momentous events in the past several years have brought home the essential role of facilities and infrastructure in supporting the daily operations of businesses and governments and the quality of life for Americans: the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September 2001; the anthrax crisis of November 2001; the blackout in the Northeast in August 2003; and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In each event the failure of facilities and infrastructure impacted human life, health, welfare, and safety and the provision of essential operations and services. Facilities have a similarly large impact on the environment, accounting for 40 percent of all energy use in the United States and 40 percent of all atmospheric emissions, including the greenhouse gases that have been linked to global climate change. As the 21st century progresses, buildings and infrastructure that are efficient, reliable, cost effective, and sustainable will become even more important. With a total portfolio of more than 500,000 facilities (NRC, 2004), the U.S. federal government has a significant role to play in reducing their environmental impacts. This portfolio is aging and deteriorating, and it is not aligned with current federal missions: Some facilities are no longer needed, some are poorly located, and others are obsolete. The condition of some federal facilities places the health, safety, and welfare of people at risk, hinders the accomplishment of various missions, and incurs a significant, long-term financial burden (GAO, 2003). Funding for the operation and maintenance of federal facilities, a long-standing issue, will become even tighter if the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO’s) projected decreases in federal discretionary funds through 2040 come to pass (GAO, 2006). Until the 1990s, most large organizations that owned facilities managed them
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies FIGURE S.1 Evolution of facilities management functions. SOURCE: Adapted from APPA (2002). through an in-house building or engineering division, which typically focused on the tactical issues that arose in the day-to-day operation of individual buildings. As new functions were assigned to the in-house facilities division—strategic planning, construction coordination, utility management, space planning, and project management, among others—the essential areas of expertise and the skills base required to discharge these responsibilities broadened to include financial management and business-related skills (Figure S.1). The recognition of facility costs, their impact on business operations, workforce health and safety, and the environment, in combination with technological, geopolitical, and socioeconomic trends, is driving a paradigm shift in how public and private organizations manage facilities and in the skills and capabilities required of the people who manage them. This paradigm shift is referred to as “facilities asset management.” In this report, facilities asset management is defined as a systematic process for maintaining, upgrading, and operating physical assets cost effectively. It combines engineering principles with sound business practices and economic theory and provides tools to facilitate a more organized, logical approach to decision making (NRC, 2004). The goal of facilities asset management is to give an organization the work
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies environments it needs to achieve its missions by optimizing available resources. This can best be done by integrating people, places, processes, and technologies to optimize the value of facilities throughout their life cycles—that is, from planning, design, and construction through operations and maintenance, renewal, and ultimately disposal. Effective facilities asset management requires a professional workforce with both hard and soft skills and capabilities in business—including technical disciplines, communications, negotiation, critical thinking, and leadership—and in enterprise knowledge, defined as a profound understanding of an organization’s missions, culture, clients, and relationships. Within the federal government, facilities investment and management decisions involve multiple stakeholders (Congress, the executive branch, the public), decision makers (the President, Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, senior executives of departments and agencies), and more than 30 facilities asset management divisions.1 The President and Congress are responsible for providing leadership and vision, setting policy, enacting legislation, establishing regulations, and authorizing and appropriating public funds. Civil service employees and political appointees within the various federal organizations are responsible for administering programs, establishing and executing processes, analyzing their results, recommending initiatives, enforcing regulations, and expending public funds efficiently, effectively, and legally (NRC, 2004). In this complex operating environment, facilities asset management divisions must serve as “connected integrators” of diverse stakeholders, functions, and services. Spurred by internal and external forces, federal organizations2 are moving toward a facilities asset management approach and transforming the processes used to acquire, manage, operate, invest in, and evaluate their facilities. Their objectives are to strategically align their facilities portfolios with their current and future missions; to ensure the continuity of essential government operations in an emergency; and to do so cost-effectively, efficiently, reliably, and sustainably. However, if a facilities asset management approach is to be fully realized in the federal government, a concurrent transformation must occur in the core competencies—the essential areas of expertise and the skills base required to achieve an organization’s missions—of facilities asset management divisions. Transforming the core competencies of facilities asset management divisions will be challenging. Within the entire executive branch, 42 percent of the Senior Executive Service, which includes most managerial and policy positions, is projected to retire by 2010. A potentially enduring result of these retirements is the 1 A facilities asset management division is defined as the operational unit within a federal organization whose primary responsibility is the management of that organization’s portfolio of facilities. Examples of facilities asset management divisions are the Office of Overseas Buildings Operations in the Department of State, the Engineering and Real Property Division in NASA, and the Public Buildings Service in the General Services Administration. 2 Cabinet-level departments (e.g., the Departments of Defense, State, and Veterans Affairs) and independent agencies (e.g., the General Services Administration and NASA).
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies loss of the institutional knowledge acquired over decades regarding the design, construction, and operation of specialized facilities, particularly for military and complex civil works projects. Attracting a new generation of workers into federal service—a generation that is savvy about new technology and that was born in the Information Age—will not be easy. This generation will be accustomed to connectivity, mobility, and information availability. Surveys show that this generation does not consider the federal government an “employer of choice” (PPS, 2006). In addition, the federal hiring process is cumbersome, confusing, and slow, and many who do apply for positions drop out of the process to take other jobs. Perhaps most important, the job descriptions for facilities asset managers are based on an outdated paradigm and are not written to attract the professional, highly skilled workforce required to manage federal facilities effectively in the future. Nonetheless, the current situation also presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the government’s approach to facilities management. As workers retire, federal organizations can redefine their facilities asset management core competencies, rewrite job descriptions, provide support and training to enhance the capabilities of current staff, and hire new staff to fill skills gaps. By taking these steps, federal organizations can develop and sustain a workforce that embodies the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to effectively manage federal facilities through 2020 and beyond. STATEMENT OF TASK At the request of the Federal Facilities Council,3 the National Research Council (NRC) appointed a multidisciplinary committee of experts from the public and private sectors and academia to undertake a study to help ensure effective federal facilities asset management (inclusive of property development and financial and operational functions) in the next 15 years. Critical elements of the study include identifying the organizational capabilities and individual skills required for effective facilities asset management. Other equally critical elements include identifying strategies and processes to ensure development of the required core competencies over a sustained period of time and performance indicators for measuring progress in workforce development. REQUIRED CORE COMPETENCIES Based on a literature review, briefings, interviews, current geopolitical and 3 The Federal Facilities Council (FFC) is a cooperative association of more than 20 federal agencies with responsibilities for large portfolios of facilities. The FFC’s mission is to identify and advance technologies, processes, and management practices that improve the performance of federal facilities over their life cycles, from planning to disposal. The FFC operates under the aegis of the National Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies socioeconomic trends, and the experience and knowledge of its members, the committee concluded that three areas of expertise are essential for federal facilities asset management divisions through 2020 and beyond, as follows: Integrating people, processes, places, and technologies by using a life-cycle approach to facilities asset management; Aligning the facilities portfolio with the organization’s missions and available resources; and Innovating across traditional functional lines and processes to address changing requirements and opportunities. The required skills base includes a balance of technical, business, and behavioral capabilities and enterprise knowledge. Technical capabilities in fields such as engineering and architecture are essential for life-cycle facilities management. Technical capabilities include knowledge of design and construction; facilities-related systems and their operations and maintenance; acquisition and project management processes; regulations and procedures; information technology and building technology; and analytical skills. Business capabilities include strategic planning and resource management to support an organization’s missions. Behavioral capabilities involve the leadership, communication, negotiation, and change management skills required to integrate functions, people, and processes across traditional lines and the capacity to innovate within a dynamic operating environment. Enterprise knowledge includes an understanding of the facilities portfolio and how to align it with the organization’s missions; of the organization’s culture, policy framework, and financial constraints; of agency inter- and intradependencies; and of the workforce’s capabilities and skills. Facilities asset managers4 will require technical skills, enterprise knowledge, behaviors, and other personal characteristics that allow them to work in a team-oriented environment and to support achievement of a life-cycle approach for facilities asset management. Together, the three essential areas of expertise and the skills base constitute the core competencies for federal facilities asset management divisions through 2020 and beyond. The committee’s findings and its recommendations for developing and sustaining core competencies follow. FINDINGS Finding 1: Previous NRC reports on the management of federal facilities recommended that federal organizations approach facilities asset man- 4 An individual in a facilities asset management division whose primary responsibilities involve some aspect of managing the organization’s portfolio of facilities. Such individuals include facilities program managers, planners, architects, engineers, and project, operations, or maintenance managers.
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies agement with the mindset of an owner; align their facilities portfolios to their organization’s missions through strategic decision making; take a life-cycle management approach; and measure performance to continuously improve facilities management. Finding 2: Geopolitical and socioeconomic trends, rapid advances in technology, reliance on outside contractors, budget pressures, heightened focus on sustainable development, and government-wide reforms require a paradigm shift in both federal facilities management and the core competencies of facilities asset management divisions. Finding 3: Significant reductions in the federal workforce through across-the-board cuts and hiring freezes have resulted in a workforce whose skills are not aligned with new technologies or business practices. These deficiencies will be exacerbated within the next few years as the most experienced facilities managers—the baby boom generation—retires. Finding 4: Efforts to recruit recent graduates and experienced professionals to federal service are hampered by the poor image of the federal government as an employer, cumbersome hiring processes, and outdated job descriptions. The GS-1600 series, which is the basis for hiring and compensating facilities managers, is based on an old paradigm and does not reflect new realities or required core competencies. Finding 5: Of all the stakeholders involved in funding, programming, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining federal facilities, facilities asset management divisions are the only ones involved in all phases. To effectively support their organization’s missions, facilities asset managers must integrate people, processes, technologies, services, and knowledge. Finding 6: The federal operating environment is dynamic and requires that facilities asset management divisions be able to innovate to address changing functional requirements and to take advantage of opportunities for improvement as they arise. Leadership skills—the ability to influence beyond one’s authority—are essential. Finding 7: To ensure that core competencies are established and sustained, federal organizations need a comprehensive workforce development strategy. They will also need to provide a long-term commitment to and investment in the professional development of facilities asset managers.
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies Finding 8: Where information gaps exist within a facilities asset management division, facilities asset managers will need to find ways to import research-based and experience-based knowledge. Finding 9: A system for measuring progress in developing and sustaining core competencies is a critical element of a comprehensive workforce development strategy. RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendation 1: To effectively manage federal facilities portfolios through 2020 and beyond, federal organizations and their facilities asset management divisions should operate within the overall framework depicted in Figure S.2. The recommended framework advises federal organizations to Adopt the mindset of an owner of facilities; Adopt behaviors that integrate facilities-related decisions into strategic planning processes to support the organization’s overall missions; FIGURE S.2 Recommended framework for effective federal facilities asset management.
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies Use a life-cycle management approach to operate efficiently, reliably, and cost effectively; and Measure performance to support continuous improvement of facilities asset management processes. To fully implement a facilities asset management approach, federal facilities asset management divisions will require a new set of core competencies. The core competencies comprise essential areas of expertise and a skills base. The three essential areas of expertise are integrating people, processes, places, and technologies by using a life-cycle approach to facilities asset management; aligning the facilities portfolio with the organization’s missions and available resources; and innovating across traditional functional lines and processes to address changing requirements and opportunities. The skills base includes a balance of technical, business, and behavioral capabilities and enterprise knowledge. Recommendation 2: To develop its core competencies, each federal facilities asset management division should first identify the functions and skills it will need to perform or oversee in support of its organization’s missions. Although similarities will emerge, the unique aspects of each organization will become apparent only after a careful analysis of current and future functional requirements. Examples of the types of functions and skills that might be required are shown in Table S.1. Each facility asset management division must first identify the functions it will need to perform in support of its organization’s missions. Once the functions are identified, it should be determined if the division is structured so it can effectively implement a life-cycle management approach or if some reorganization will be required. Recommendation 3: Each federal facilities asset management division should also conduct an analysis that compares its current skills base to the skills base required for facilities asset management in 2020. The analysis should account for planned or potential changes in missions, requirements, and technologies through 2020 and should identify actions needed to close any skills gaps. Facilities asset management divisions will need to ask and answer the following questions: What skills are possessed by the facilities asset managers who currently work in the facilities asset management division? Are these skills accessible/available in sufficient quantity for effective facilities asset
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies TABLE S.1 Examples of Functions and Skills That Might Be Required to Support an Organization’s Missions Technical Business Behavioral Enterprise Knowledge Operations and maintenance Planning and design Building systems Project management Construction Code compliance Cost estimating Space planning Environmental health and safety Energy management FM technology Sustainability Commissioning Security Life-cycle analyses Strategic planning Asset management Finance and accounting Contract monitoring Procurement Real estate Acquisition and leasing Business lexicon Risk management Contingency planning Ethics/law Marketing Human resources Professional development Organizational planning Leadership Teamwork/team building Interpersonal relationships Mentoring/coaching Negotiating Critical thinking Communication Change management Quality and innovation Future issues/trending Performance measurement Benchmarking Mission Vision Strategic direction Values Culture/trust Systems Processes Resource allocation management? Which skills are found in people who are eligible to retire within 5 years? Is there a gap between the current skills base and the skills base required for effective facilities asset management in 2020? What steps should be taken to close the skills gap? Which skills and capabilities are best acquired through new hires? Which by contracting out? Which by training current staff? Which through a recognized career path for facilities asset managers? Recommendation 4: Federal organizations should develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy to acquire, develop, and sustain a workforce with the required core competencies for facilities asset management. Senior executives should show their commitment and provide the resources necessary for individuals to develop and refine their skills, including leadership skills, through a continuum of experience and opportunities. The development and sustainment of a workforce that can fulfill the core competencies required for effective facilities asset management require leadership at all levels of an organization, the sustained investment of resources, and a system to measure progress toward developing workforce skills and capabilities. A com-
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies prehensive strategy for workforce development entails recruiting, training, and retaining outstanding individuals. A professional development strategy must go beyond training seminars. It should provide opportunities for education through degree programs or online courses, mentoring, professional certification, participation in professional societies, and knowledge development through research. Recommendation 5: To overcome barriers to recruiting and hiring individuals with required skills and capabilities, the directors of federal facilities asset management divisions and senior real property officers should collaborate with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council and the Office of Personnel Management to revise the GS-1600 job classification series. Attracting recent graduates or experienced professionals with the skills and capabilities required to fulfill core competencies for facilities asset management will require significant recruiting and marketing efforts to overcome the negative image of the government as an employer. Recruiting efforts should highlight the full array of public service benefits as well as opportunities that might not be available in private sector firms. In addition, the job descriptions used to advertise openings and to evaluate potential hires should be updated to reflect the new core competencies. It will probably also be necessary to revise classification and compensation levels to attract high-quality candidates. Such an effort will require cooperation and coordination among facilities asset management divisions, senior real property officers, the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, and the Office of Personnel Management. Recommendation 6: Federal facilities asset managers should seek to expand the knowledge base related to facilities asset management and use the results to improve decision making and achieve the desired outcomes. Knowledge can be transferred through involvement in professional societies, certification programs, and research using in-house or outside expertise. Because the discipline of facilities asset management is evolving, there is less conventional wisdom, as well as fewer acknowledged best practices, available than for more established disciplines. Knowledge about facilities asset management can be collected both internally and externally through a variety of activities, including education and training, membership in professional societies, and participation in research. Recommendation 7: Federal organizations should use a Balanced Scorecard approach for measuring progress in developing and sustaining core competencies for facilities asset management through 2020 and beyond.
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies Because the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a well-established performance measurement system that federal organizations are already applying to some aspects of facilities asset management, the committee recommends its continued use for measuring progress in developing core competencies. The BSC concept has evolved over time, but the four categories of performance have remained the same: financial outcomes, internal business processes, customer relationships, and learning and growth. The learning and growth category focuses on an organization’s workforce and its capacity to enable the achievement of the organization’s missions. Learning and growth objectives might include enhancing employee skills and capabilities, increasing employee satisfaction, developing an environment for learning, and enhancing the organization’s ability to recruit and retain employees with required skills. The indicators to measure progress in achieving these objectives would appear to be a natural outgrowth of the skills gap analysis. REFERENCES APPA (Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers). 2002. Development of the Facility Management Profession. Alexandria, Va.: APPA. GAO (Government Accountability Office). 2003. High Risk Series: Federal Real Property. Washington, D.C.: GAO. GAO. 2006. The Nation’s Long-Term Fiscal Outlook. Washington, D.C.: GAO. NRC (National Research Council). 2004. Investments in Federal Facilities: Asset Management Strategies for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. PPS (Partnership for Public Service). 2006. Back to School: Rethinking Federal Recruiting on College Campuses. Washington, D.C.: Partnership for Public Service.
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