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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies 5 Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management: Findings and Recommendations Chapters 1 through 4 provide context and address the statement of task by identifying forces affecting the federal government, the core competencies needed to manage facilities assets, development strategies, and indicators for measuring progress toward the development of core competencies. Chapter 5 extracts the key findings from the study and presents seven recommendations for federal facilities asset management. FINDINGS Finding 1: Previous NRC reports on the management of federal facilities recommended that federal organizations approach facilities asset management 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. The report Stewardship of Federal Facilities: A Proactive Strategy for Managing the Nation’s Public Assets (NRC, 1998, p. v) addresses the issue of ownership as follows: The ownership of real property entails an investment in the present and a commitment to the future. Ownership of facilities by the federal government, or any other entity, represents an obligation that requires not only money to carry out that ownership responsibly, but also the vision, resolve, experience, and expertise to ensure that resources are allocated effectively to sustain that investment. Recognition and acceptance of this obligation is the essence of stewardship.
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies On page 63, the report identified the four most important elements in creating a climate for stewardship: Leadership by agency senior managers. The establishment and implementation of a stewardship ethic by facilities program managers and staff as their basic business strategy. Senior managers and program managers who create incentives for successful and innovative facility management. Agency strategic plans that give suitable weight to effective facilities management. Outsourcing Management Functions for the Acquisition of Federal Facilities states that “when acquiring facilities, a federal agency assumes an ownership responsibility as a steward of the public’s investment” (NRC, 2000, p. 46). It notes that ownership and management functions are not the same. Owners establish objectives and make decisions. They determine the need for facilities, develop project scopes, balance conflicting priorities, establish parameters (for cost and duration, for example), and determine positions in negotiations. Managers perform ministerial functions that implement the owner’s decisions and oversee accomplishment of the task. Ownership and management functions are equally important and must be balanced if organizations are to effectively achieve their missions. A smart owner of facilities has the skill base—usually a staff with the professional qualifications and authority—necessary to plan, guide, and evaluate the facility acquisition process. A smart owner focuses on the “relationship of a specific facility to the successful accomplishment of an organization’s business or overall mission” (NRC, 2000, p. 50). Investments in Federal Facilities: Asset Management Strategies for the 21st Century (NRC, 2004) recommends that federal organizations integrate facilities considerations into their strategic planning to provide decision makers with better information about the total long-term costs and consequences of a particular course of action. It also recommended that the senior facilities asset manager participate in the organization’s strategic planning at the executive level so that he or she can translate between its missions and its facilities portfolio and clearly communicate how real estate and facilities can support the missions. The 1998 and 2004 reports both recommend a life-cycle approach for managing facilities. All three reports recommend the continuous measurement of performance to improve federal facilities asset management. Performance measures help organizations to understand why particular decision-making processes or management practices succeeded or failed and where objectives are not being met or where they are being exceeded. Managers can then “investigate the factors or reasons underlying the performance and make appropriate adjustments” (NRC, 2004, p. 65).
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies 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. The high risk associated with federal facilities management has been recognized by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). The poor condition of some federal facilities places people’s health, safety, and welfare at risk, hinders the accomplishment of missions, and becomes a significant long-term financial burden. Because the federal government is the single largest owner of facilities in the United States and, indeed, in the world, it can play an important role in sustainable development by reducing the environmental impacts of facilities. Current geopolitical conditions indicate that the nation’s focus on homeland security and global terrorism will continue. Information technology is changing not only the methods by which the physical infrastructure is managed but also the infrastructure itself. Changes in government paradigms, the growing national fiscal imbalance, and changes in the workforce all have tangible implications for federal facilities asset management. Unless facilities management policies and practices change significantly, the factors that make federal facilities a high-risk proposition—lack of alignment with missions, deteriorating condition, and obsolescence—will only worsen. 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. In the wake of the downsizing efforts of the 1990s, the federal government is now challenged to acquire and develop staff whose numbers, skills, and deployment meet organizational needs (GAO, 2001). The PMA notes that without proper planning, the skill mix of the federal workforce will not be suitable for changing missions. 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. One potentially enduring outcome of these retirements is the loss of the institutional knowledge base built up over decades, including knowledge of the design, construction, and operation of specialized facilities, particularly for military and complex civil works projects. At a minimum, loss of this knowledge could result in project-specific inefficiencies; in the worst case, it could negatively impact military preparedness and jeopardize national security.
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies 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. As baby boomers retire, the federal government will be challenged to attract a new generation of workers into federal service—a generation that is technology-savvy and that was born in the Information Age. This generation will be accustomed to connectivity, mobility, and the availability of information. A recent survey found that many college students were unaware of federal career opportunities, and others said that “too much bureaucracy” and “low salaries” were reasons not to work for the government (PPS, 2006). Another barrier to recruitment is the GS-1600 job classification series, which is the basis for recruiting new employees and talent to the federal facilities asset management arena and which influences compensation levels. The current descriptions focus on overseeing the operation, maintenance, and use of facilities and equipment and do not take into account the broader, higher-level qualifications required for facilities asset managers. 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. Within the federal government, facilities investment and management decisions involve multiple stakeholders (Congress, the executive branch, the public), decision makers (Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, senior executives of departments and agencies), and more than 30 facilities asset management divisions. Facilities asset management divisions perform a wide range of functions using different technologies and involving different operational units (construction, design, energy, engineering, electrical, environmental, fire, forestry, historical, information technology, janitorial, landscaping, maintenance, mechanical, parking, power, safety, sanitary, security, space, traffic, and others). This diversity of functions means that facilities asset management divisions must serve as “connected integrators” of diverse stakeholders, functions, and services across the life cycles of facilities. 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
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies for improvement as they arise. Leadership skills—the ability to influence beyond one’s authority—are essential. The GAO and others have recognized the importance of leadership skills for managing the change that is necessary for transforming federal programs and practices. Leadership requires a wide-ranging balance of the business, technical, management, and behavioral skills and values that allow an individual to make effective decisions, influence others, and lead them to success. 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. A comprehensive strategy for workforce development requires a set of approaches for attracting, advancing, organizing, motivating, and retaining outstanding individuals. Long-term professional development of staff will need to go beyond training seminars. It should provide opportunities for education through degree programs, online courses, mentoring, and professional certification and should encourage participation in professional societies. The creation and implementation of such a strategy requires an environment that encourages learning and the development of core competencies. Fostering such an environment will in turn require organizational leadership and commitment, adoption of core values, and the sustained investment of resources. 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. Because facilities asset management is evolving as a profession, facilities asset management divisions will need to find ways to import ideas, technologies, and research-based knowledge to support their decision making and improve their outcomes. Leaders of facilities asset management divisions need to understand the level of knowledge that resides in their workforces and where there are gaps in that knowledge. As facilities asset management in the private sector evolves as well, many new ideas and principles have emerged from that sector that can help federal facilities asset managers understand where improvements can be made. Federal organizations can encourage individuals to be involved in professional organizations and to seek professional certification, and they can establish processes for the transfer of knowledge from outside sources into federal facilities asset management divisions.
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies Finding 9: A system for measuring progress in developing and sustaining core competencies is a critical element of a comprehensive workforce development strategy. The systematic measurement of performance can bring about continuous improvement. Indeed, the very process of measurement often improves performance. Organizational performance is tied to mission accomplishment, proper stewardship of assets, and effective workforce management. Ongoing self-assessment is required if an organization is to have a good picture of where it stands in achieving its goals. Such an assessment should ask “Where are we going?” and “Can we get there from here?” REQUIRED CORE COMPETENCIES Based on its literature review, briefings, interviews, current geopolitical and socioeconomic trends, and the experience and knowledge of its members, the committee concluded that three essential areas of expertise are required by federal facilities asset management divisions through 2020 and beyond: 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; 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; an understanding of the organization’s culture, policy framework, and financial constraints; agency inter- and intradependencies; and the workforce’s capabilities and skills. Facilities asset managers1 will require technical skills, enterprise knowledge, behaviors, and 1 An individual in a facilities asset management division whose primary responsibilities involve some
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies 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 make up the core competencies for federal facilities asset management divisions through 2020 and beyond. The committee’s recommendations for developing and sustaining core competencies follow. 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 5.1. 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. 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. 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. 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 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 FIGURE 5.1 Recommended framework for effective federal facilities asset management. the Office of Personnel Management to revise the GS-1600 job classification series. 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. 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. REFERENCES NRC (National Research Council). 1998. Stewardship of Federal Facilities: A Proactive Strategy for Managing the Nation’s Public Assets. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. NRC. 2000. Outsourcing Management Functions for the Acquisition of Federal Facilities. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
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Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies NRC. 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.