Senior decision-makers will also want to know the return on investment or expected value of investment. Facilities program managers should understand and be able to communicate effectively the economic value of a component or system to a mission, and the cost of protecting its value. To do that they will need to identify the types of deterioration or other adverse events that will lead to loss of mission, the vulnerabilities of facilities to the adverse events, the potential loss of economic value if a failure occurs, the accumulation of potential losses until the system is repaired, and how vulnerabilities can cascade into additional failures. For example, facilities program managers should be able to identify the consequences if a component in a heating system causes the entire system to go down for 2 days in the middle of winter or if a roof leaks or collapses and interrupts research or other activities or destroys computer equipment. They also need to identify what can be done to prevent such situations, how much it will cost to avoid the risk, and how much it will save in other costs.
Program managers will need to be able to characterize and explain the level and types of uncertainty inherent in a funding request. Uncertainty is the lack of sufficient information to describe an existing situation (such as unpredictability of a budget) or projection (such as remaining service life). They will need to communicate their level of confidence in the information that they are presenting and identify unavailable information that if available could affect the prediction of outcomes.
The literature offers several suggestions for increasing the chances of successful communication about maintenance and repair investments. A realistic request is the first. Federal facilities program managers should make sure that their outcome estimates can withstand the scrutiny of colleagues and outside experts. Second, transparency is essential: the basis of outcome estimates needs to be available. Senior decision-makers may support an outcomes-based approach, but they will be concerned that the outcomes will not materialize as predicted. Hence, it is prudent for facilities program managers to propose a midcourse evaluation of the outcome measures. They should also be prepared to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of this approach in comparison with other options.
Federal facilities program managers should be prepared to explain the value of an outcomes approach because of its complexity. They should expect resistance from some managers on the grounds that an outcomes-oriented set of measures obfuscates a request in an unwieldy sea of numbers. For that reason, they should plan for multiple internal and external communications. No one should expect that a single written deliverable to senior decision-makers will suffice. The challenge is to produce a set of measures of outcomes that will satisfy colleagues and yet be defensible in front of multiple skeptical audiences (Muto et al., 1997). One way for federal facilities program managers to develop consistent messages quickly would be to share lessons learned among agencies about the messages and measures that gained the greatest acceptance with decision-makers and about the messages and measures that created skepticism.