of the annual operating costs is expended on 45,000 facilities that are reported to be excess or underutilized (GSA, 2010).

Despite the magnitude of that investment, funding for the maintenance and repair of federal facilities has been inadequate for many years, and myriad projects have been deferred. GAO has stated that the total backlog of deferred maintenance and repairs, which amounts to tens of billions of dollars, “may have a significant effect on future budget resources and our nation’s long-term fiscal sustainability” (GAO, 2008, p. 4).

Continued underinvestment in maintenance and repair will lead to even greater deterioration and greater risk to the government.2 Probable adverse events include system failures that will disrupt agencies’ operations; higher operating and life cycle costs; hazards that lead to injuries and illnesses or loss of life and property; waste of water, energy, and other resources; operational inefficiencies; continued greenhouse gas emissions; greater fiscal exposure related to facilities ownership; and even greater backlogs of deferred maintenance and repairs.

Current and projected constraints on the federal budget and the rising national debt provide the impetus to reexamine all federal programs, activities, and opera tions to fnd more cost-effective ways to provide goods and services to the U.S. public. Several recent developments provide an opportunity and a foundation for implementing more strategic and more cost-effective investment practices for maintaining and repairing federal facilities.

One development is the recognition by both public-sector and private-sector organizations that well-managed facilities enable efficient operations and the achievement of organizational missions and objectives. Recognition of the multifaceted value of facilities has, in turn, resulted in more strategic facilities management practices that focus on entire portfolios of facilities and treat them as assets to organizations. Federal agencies have been implementing portfolio-based management processes, although the level of sophistication varies. With a few exceptions, agencies have not yet adopted more strategic, portfolio-based practices for linking maintenance and repair investments to their overarching missions.

A second development is the continued evolution of information and other technologies. Information tools and technologies are now available to monitor facilities’ condition, energy use, and other performance dimensions and to collect data that can be used to measure and predict outcomes of maintenance and repair investments, to reduce long-term costs, to eliminate human error and bias, and to increase operational efficiencies. Information technologies also support telework, which is changing the concept of workplaces and the demand for physical space.

A third development is the federal government’s recognition of the critical role of facilities in meeting the national challenges of energy independence, homeland security, environmental sustainability, and global climate change. In the

image

2The committee used Lowrance’s definition of risk as “a measure of the probability and severity of adverse events” (Lowrance, 1976, p. 1).



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement