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2 CAUSES. CONSEQUENCES. AND SCALE ~NEGLECT Neglect of Maintenance and repair (M&R) and consequent growth of backlog are caused generally by shortages of funds or by failure to recognize fully the need for M&R. These two causes are often closely related. PHYSICAL AND MANAGEMENT CAUSES OF NEGLECT Physical causes of neglect grow out of difficulties owners and managers have in determining the condition of building sub- systems and the likelihood of failures. The effects of wear or deterioration are cumulative and manifest themselves slowly. Serious conditions can develop without being visible. Thus, it is possible to simply underestimate the need for M&R. In addition, decisions made in a building's design to use short-lived materials and equipment (to save on construction costs) generally increase M&R requirements. Poor design or improper construction or installation can cause inadequate performance from the outset and increase M&R needs. Abuse, misuse, neglect, and overuse of building components all increase needs for M&R. Furthermore, incorrect maintenance procedures can shorten the life of systems and components and cause pre- mature failures. Management causes of neglect spring primarily from failure to allocate adequate funds to M&R. Secondarily, management of the M&R function is frequently ineffectively planned. Main- tenance personnel are often not properly trained and main- tenance methods are ineffective. Records are often poorly kept and not reviewed to extract lessons for future maintenance planning. An M&R backlog is often the result of a combination of these physical and management causes. Facilities managers, lacking 9
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firm performance criteria and statistical bases to describe M&R needs and the consequences of its neglect, can find it difficult to defend their budget requests. Public officials (and private owners as well) faced with neither convincing technical argu- ments for the need nor immediately visible consequences of neglect are typically persuaded to give higher priority to other demands for limited public resources.7 M&R budgets are then set at too low a level and the backlog grows. CONSEQUENCES OF NEGLECT It is often difficult to discern the direct consequences of neglect of M&R because the physical evidence may not be immediately visible. Several years may pass before the con- sequences are noticed by the building user. However, eventually a decline in appearance, increased operations costs, and pre- mature failures occur and are evident to both the building user and the management of the facility.8 The typical consequences of neglect are summarized in Table 2.1. Threats to health and safety have received increasing atten- tion in the nation's aging building stock. Legionnaires disease at one extreme as well as more prevalent sinus problems and allergic reactions have resulted from inadequate maintenance of air ducts, humidifiers, and filters. Poorly maintained lighting, 7 For example, a study of expenditures for school building maintenance in Kansas found that the local government's level of outstanding debt was the best predictor of maintenance expenditures--larger debt led to lower maintenance effort. As may be expected, expenditure limitations were cited as a causal factor for the scale of estimated backlog (Stewart and Honeyman, 1988). ~ The link between maintenance and productivity has not received extensive analysis but is measurable. Chaubhry and All (1989), for example, estimated that increasing maintenance expenditures on irrigation canals in Pakistan by 10 percent increases agricultural output by more than 3 percent and, in general, that the ratio of marginal benefits to investments in operation and maintenance has been in the range of 11 to 26. Studies of bridge maintenance in New York City have found that the city government may "save" $20 million over the years by reducing maintenance but that taxpayers at all levels directly bear a premature $300 million cost of replacement (Robison, 1989~. 10
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TABLE 2.1 Potential Consequences of Underfunding Threats to Health and Safety Health failure Safety failure Structural failure Service Failures Power service loss Heating, ventilation, and air~conditioning system failure Leakage for other shelter failure other losses of use Excessive Costs Energy costs "Domino effect," minor failures leading to major failure Replacement versus repair costs Absenteeism and turnover Losses of production Loss of assets (building contents) Social Costs Inability to attract and retain personnel Poor morale Poor image Loss of readiness stair coverings, and floors lead to accidents. Water infiltration of poorly maintained roof decks can lead to structural corrosion and failure.9 Service failures of building systems or components often result from a lack of maintenance resources. Trade-offs are made within a limited maintenance budget, taking a gamble that 9 A report on the corrosion of the weathering steel decks in the garage atop the New Haven Coliseum, which could result in demolition of the entire 17-year-old facility, stated that"a jury found that because the owner had not adequately maintained the building throughout its life, the owner--and not the design engineer--was totally responsible" (ENR, 1988~. 11
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nothing will go wrong. For example, in a case known to the committee, an owner decided not to contract for services to main- tain an emergency generator and also neglected to train and equip in-house personnel, ostensibly due to lack of resources. Consequent failure to inspect and test the generator each year resulted in loss of coolant and failure of the automatic high- temperature shutdown circuited when the generator is needed. Inadequate maintenance can result in excessive operating costs. For example, during the Vietnam war era, the U.S. Navy's funding for M&R dropped significantly. (The funds gained from the M&R reduction were used to fight the war.) Consequently, there was a gradual degradation of Naval facilities. At one installation the refueling piers deteriorated so badly that ships could not dock, and they had to be serviced by fuel barges, a costly operation. Funding of the functional operations but not the facility's M&R resulted in costs that were higher than if adequate M&R had taken place. In addition, the disregard of maintenance for the pier resulted in its ultimate replacement at a considerable cost to the Navy. Social costs are harder to measure but can be documented. For example, interviews of teachers in public schools have found neglect of maintenance to have a definite impact on the educa- tional process (Corcoran et al., 1988~. Poorly maintained school buildings were cited as demoralizing to teachers and students alike. The committee learned of another example in which re- ductions in personnel staffing and training in a private cor- poration's electrical power distribution facilities were soon followed by a higher incidence of personnel injury and equip- ment damage. In its discussions of the impacts of underf unding M&R functions, the committee observed that one of the worst con- sequences of long-term neglect of maintenance is the crisis management condition in which building managers and owners A This example also resulted in excess cost--$30,000 for overhaul of the generator. Other modes of failure could have occurred, with different consequences. i~ In another instance the Navy found that inspection and repair of steam traps was being deferred by many shore activi- ties. It was determined that $23 million was lost each year due to failed steam traps. As a consequence, boiler plants were straining to meet heavier loads. Up to 20 percent of the steam generated was lost due to failed traps. A Navy survey showed that for every dollar invested in steam trap maintenance at least $3 in steam costs was avoided (Navy Civil Engineer, 1988-1989~. 12
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are put. Hasty decisions are often made, with expensive and even inappropriate products and services purchased. SCALE OF THE PROBLEM The committee knows of no comprehensive study on mainte- nance deferral and backlog, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the scale of the problem is substantial. In unofficial discussion with the committee, representatives of the Department of the Navy, for example, estimated its backlog to exceed $1 billion in 1987. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has estimated that it had a backlog of approximately $300 million in 1989, and the amount may be growing under the constraints of the state's fiscal austerity. A study by the Association of Physical Plant Administrators of Colleges and Universities estimates the current capital asset value of colleges and universities to be $300 billion with capital renewal and replacement needs of $60 billion to $70 billion. M&R funding needs were estimated at $6 billion with a backlog of approximately $1.2 billion (Rush and Johnson, 1989~. A study of the nation's largest urban school districts found that in one district the current M&R budgets were only adequate to paint classrooms once every 100 years and to replace floor coverings once every 50 years (Corcoran et al., 1 9X8~. Another study collected data on over one-half of the nation's schools in all 50 states and found that one of every four is in inadequate con- dition. Of these, 61 percent need maintenance and major repair (see Table 2.2~. The study estimates $41 billion in M&R needs for public school buildings (EWA, 1989~. The committee recognizes that maintenance backlog needs may be often overstated for a variety of reasons. A major study of the Department of Defense's investment in real property maintenance activities was prompted in part by Congress's con- cern that "backlog estimates appear to have little validity and are not verified or developed consistently between services" (U.S. Senate, 1988~. However, the committee observed that while the actual size of the backlog may be overstated, there is nevertheless a significant problem resulting from past policies and attitudes regarding the importance of maintenance funding. APPROACHES TO SOLVING THE PROBLEM The committee believes that the underfunding and sub- sequent neglect of M&R that prevails in many public agencies 13
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result in large measure from a failure of those who decide on funding levels to recognize fully the impact of their de- cisions on the public's capital assets, the in- vestment in public buildings. These deci- sion makers have limit- ed information to help them evaluate the bud- gets submitted by their facilities managers and, thus, they must make relatively uninformed decisions. If these de- cision makers had better information to aid their evaluations, their man- agement capabilities would be strengthened. The committee proposes that formulation and evaluation of M&R budgets should consider explicitly (1) the appropriate size of the routine M&R budget, which is a part of the cost of ownership (Chapter 3), and (2) the M&R backlog, which may be estimated using the procedures of condition assessment (Chapter 4~. TABLE 2.2 "Inadequate" School Buildings Problem Areas Percentage Problem Area Reporting Need maintenance Obsolete Environmental hazards Overcrowded Unsound structures Source: EWA ( 1989~. References 61 43 42 25 13 Chaubhry, Muhammad A., and Mubarik All, Economic Returns to Oneration and Maintenance Expenditure in Different Comoonents of the Irrigation System in Pakistan' ODI/IIMI Irrigation Management Network Paper 89/ld, Overseas Develop- ment Institute, London, 1989. Corcoran, Thomas B., Lisa I. Walker, and J. Lynne White, Working in Urban Schools Washington, D.C., Institute for Educational Leadership, 1988. Educational Writers Association (EWA), Wolves at the Schoolhouse Door: An Investigation of the Condition of Public School Buildings, Washington, D.C., EWA, 1989. Robison, Rita, "Preventive Maintenance: Fixing What Ain't Broke," Civil Engineering, vol. 59, no. 9, pp. 67-69, September, 1989. 14
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Rush, Sean C., and Sandra L. Johnson, The Decavine American CamDus: A Ticking Time Bomb, Association of Physical Plant Administrators of Universities and Colleges and the National Association of College and University Business Officers in cooperation with Coopers & Lybrand, Alexandria, Va., APPA, 1989. Stewart, G. Kent, and David S. Honeyman, "Capital Outlay and Deferred Maintenance in Kansas," Journal of Education Finance. vol. 13, pp. 317-323, 1988. U.S. Senate, Senate Appropriations Committee, Report on the DOD 1989 AnDrooriations Bill. Report 100-402, Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office (GPO), 1988. 15
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