The deteriorating condition of federal facilities poses economic, safety, operational, and environmental risks to the federal government, to the achievement of the missions of federal agencies, and to the achievement of public policy goals. Primary factors underlying the deterioration are the age of federal facilities— about half are at least 50 years old—and decades of inadequate investment in their maintenance and repair. Those issues are not new and there are no quick fxes. However, the current operating environment provides both the impetus and the opportunity to place investments in maintenance and repair of federal facilities on a new, more sustainable course for the 21st century.
In 1990, the National Research Council Committee on Advanced Maintenance Concepts for Buildings found that “credible analyses indicate that we are systematically neglecting the maintenance of public facilities at all levels of government. We are spending our assets and wasting our inheritance” (NRC, 1990, p. ix). Thirteen years later, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) designated federal facilities as a “high-risk”1 area because of long-standing problems with excess and underutilized facilities, deteriorating facilities, unreliable data, expensive space, and the threat of terrorism (GAO, 2003).
The problems persist in 2011. The federal government owns and leases about 429,000 buildings and an additional 482,000 structures (such as utility systems, roads and bridges, and miscellaneous military facilities) worldwide (GSA, 2010); they are valued at $1.26 trillion (GSA, 2006) to $1.5 trillion (GAO, 2008) and have annual operating costs of more than $47 billion (GAO, 2008). About $1.66 billion
1GAO’s high-risk update is provided at the start of each new Congress. The high-risk reports are intended to help the new Congress “focus its attention on the most important issues and challenges facing the federal government” (GAO, 2003, p. 1).
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
2The committee used Lowrance’s definition of risk as “a measure of the probability and severity of adverse events” (Lowrance, 1976, p. 1).
United States today, facilities directly account for almost 40 percent of primary energy use, 12 percent of water use, and 60 percent of all nonindustrial waste (NSTC, 2008). The processes used to produce and deliver energy to facilities for heating, cooling, ventilation, computers, and appliances account for 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (NAS-NAE-NRC, 2008).
Congress and two presidential administrations have enacted legislation and issued other directives challenging federal agencies to take a leadership role in reducing their use of energy, water, and fossil fuels and in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Those goals will be met only through efficient and effective operation and maintenance of mission-supportive facilities, combined with an overall reduction in the amount of the total square footage (“footprint”) of federal facilities. All those factors both require and enable changes in the approaches used to manage, maintain, and repair federal facilities.
Transforming the current portfolio of federal facilities into one that is more economically, physically, and environmentally sustainable at a time when budgets are decreasing is daunting. Nonetheless, this report identifies processes and practices for doing so.
STATEMENT OF TASK AND THE COMMITTEE’S APPROACH
In October 2009, the National Research Council appointed an ad hoc committee of experts to develop methods, strategies, and procedures to predict outcomes3 anticipated from investments in federal facilities’ maintenance and repair. The committee was asked to address the following questions:
- Are there ways to predict or quantify the outcomes that can be expected from a given level of investment in maintenance and repair of federal facilities or facilities’ systems?
- What risks do deteriorating facilities, deteriorating building systems (such as mechanical and electrical) or deteriorating components (such as roofs and foundations) pose to the achievement of a federal agency’s mission or to other organizational outcomes (for example, physical security, operating costs, worker recruitment and retention, and health care costs)?
- Do such risks vary by facility type (such as Offices, hospitals, industrial, and laboratories), by system, or by function (such as research and administrative)? Can the risks be quantified?
- What strategies, measures, and data should be in place to determine the outcomes of facilities maintenance and repair investments? How can those strategies, measures, and data be used to improve the outcomes of investments?
3The committee used Webster’s definition of an outcome as “something that follows as a result or consequence” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1976).
- Are there effective communication strategies that federal facilities program managers can use to inform decision-makers better about the cost-effectiveness of levels of investment in facilities’ maintenance and repair?
To fulfll its task, the committee (Appendix A) met five times from December 2009 to September, 2010, exchanged report chapters by e-mail, and held a series of conference calls. The committee reviewed previous NRC reports related to federal facilities management and gathered information from numerous federal agencies and several private-sector and professional organizations that were identified by the committee as industry leaders (Appendix B). The committee’s findings and recommendations are based on the information gathered through the literature review, briefngs, committee meetings, and the individual committee members’ experience and expertise.
Just as there are no quick fxes for issues related to the management of federal facilities, there is no simple answer to the question, What outcomes will result from a given level of investment in maintenance and repair of facilities? The answer will depend on a number of factors, including the specific mission and programs of an agency; the type, number, and distribution of the facilities used to enable missions and programs; the existing condition of those facilities; and the resources available for investment in maintenance and repair.
In the same vein, no single formula or equation is available that will quantify the relationships between a given level of investment and the types of outcomes that will result or the level of risk that will be mitigated. Instead federal facilities program managers, in concert with other federal facilities stakeholders, will need to work through a more complicated method that takes into account the many complexities of facilities management and investment. Nonetheless, it can be done. The result will be improved processes for and improved outcomes of investments in the maintenance and repair of federal facilities.
Finding 1. An array of beneficial outcomes can be achieved through timely investments in facilities maintenance and repair (Table S.1). Those outcomes support mission achievement, compliance with regulations, improved condition, efficient operations, and stakeholder-driven initiatives. All the outcomes can be measured. Some outcomes including reliability and physical condition can be predicted; that is, they can be estimated before an investment is made or if an investment is not made.
Finding 2. Deteriorating facilities and systems pose risks to the federal government, its agencies, its workforce, and the public. Among them are risks to the
TABLE S.1 Beneficial Outcomes Related to Investments in Maintenance and Repair Mission-RelatedCompliance-RelatedCondition-RelatedEfficientStakeholder-DrivenOutcomesOutcomesOutcomesOperations
|Mission-Related Outcomes||Compliance-Related Outcomes||Condition-Related Outcomes||Efficient Operations||Stakeholder-Driven Outcomes|
|Improved reliability||Fewer accidents and injuries||Improved condition||Less reactive, unplanned||Customer satisfaction|
|Improved productivity||Fewer building-related illnesses||Reduced backlog of deferred||maintenance and repair||Improved public image|
|Functionality||Fewer insurance||maintenance and repairs||Lower operating costs|
|Efficient space utilization||claims, lawsuits, and regulatory violations||Lower life-cycle costs|
|Lower life-cycle costs|
Reduced energy use
Reduced water use
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
achievement of federal agencies’ missions; risks to safe, healthy, and secure workplaces; risks to the government’s fiscal soundness; risks to efficient and cost-effective operations; and risks to achieving public policy objectives.
Finding 3. The risks associated with deteriorating facilities vary by type of facility, by system, by existing condition, by function, by utilization, and, most important, by the relationship of facilities to an agency’s mission. Risks can be identified qualitatively and some can be quantified.
Finding 4. Excess, underutilized, and obsolete facilities constitute a drain on the federal government’s budget in costs and in forgone opportunities to invest in the maintenance and repair of mission-supportive facilities and to reduce energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Finding 5. To manage and mitigate the risks posed by the ownership of facilities, high-performance private-sector organizations do the following:
• Systematically dispose of excess and underutilized facilities.
• Pursue a proactive strategy to minimize their total facilities “footprint.”
• Link maintenance and repair activities to the organization’s business or mission and set priorities among them.
• Correlate the effects of systems-related failures with the business or mission.
• Correlate delays in timely maintenance and repair with sustainment cost.
Finding 6. To make the outcomes of and risks posed by investments in maintenance and repair projects and activities transparent to decision-makers at all levels of the organization, facilities managers in high-performance organizations do the following:
• Aggregate maintenance and repair requirements for some facilities’ systems and components (such as life-safety systems and roofs) to provide for greater transparency and to identify operational efficiencies.
• Perform “knowledge-based” condition assessments; that is, tailor the frequency and level of inspection to the strategic importance of facilities and to the life cycle of systems and components to provide credible estimates of repair costs and remaining service lives.
• Measure outcomes as a basis of continuous improvement.
• Implement feedback systems to evaluate the performance of investments.
Finding 7. Investment strategies, definitions of maintenance and repair, maintenance and repair practices, and methods for budget development vary among federal agencies as a result of their different missions; the sizes, compositions, and distributions of their facilities; and their organizational cultures. The lack of common approaches makes it difficult to compare the effectiveness of maintenance and repair investments among federal agencies, to compare the benefits and pitfalls of different investment strategies, and to benchmark performance for the purpose of continuous improvement.
Finding 8. Reliable and appropriate data and information are essential for measuring and predicting outcomes of investments in federal facilities maintenance and repair. An array of data, tools, and technologies is available to support strategic decision-making, to quantify outcomes and risks by using empirical data, to expedite data collection, and to reduce human errors and bias.
Finding 9. Additional research and collaborative efforts are needed to continue to develop rapid and effective data-collection methods (such as the use of sensors and visual imaging devices), data definition and exchange standards that allow interoperability of data and software systems, and robust prediction models.
Recommendation 1 (Findings 4 and 5). To better manage the economic, physical, and environmental risks associated with facilities ownership, the federal government and its agencies should embark on a coordinated, funded, and
sustained effort to dispose of excess and underutilized facilities. They should also proactively reduce their total facilities footprint through alternative work strategies and other measures.
Recommendation 2 (Findings 1, 5, and 6). Federal agencies should develop more strategic approaches for investing in facilities maintenance and repair to achieve beneficial outcomes and to mitigate risks. Such approaches should do the following:
• Identify and set priorities among the outcomes to be achieved through maintenance and repair investments and link them to achievement of agencies’ missions and other public policy objectives.
• Provide a systematic approach to performance measurement, analysis, and feedback.
• Provide for greater transparency and credibility in budget development, decision-making, and budget execution.
Recommendation 3 (Findings 1, 2, and 3). To develop more strategic approaches to maintenance and repair investment, federal agencies should do the following:
• Identify and set priorities among the beneficial outcomes that are to be achieved through maintenance and repair investments, preferably in the form of a 5- to 10-year plan agreed on by all levels of the organizations. Elements of that type of plan are outlined in Chapter 7.
• Establish a risk-based process for setting priorities among annual maintenance and repair activities in the field and at the headquarters level. Guidance for doing that is contained in Chapter 7.
• Establish standard methods for gathering and updating data to provide credible, empirical information for decision support, to measure outcomes of investments in maintenance and repair, and to track and improve the results.
Recommendation 4 (Finding 6). Federal facilities program managers should plan for multiple internal and external communications when presenting maintenance and repair requests to other decision-makers and staff. The information communicated should be accurate, acknowledge uncertainties, and be available in multiple forms to meet the needs of different audiences. The basis of prediction of outcomes of a given level of investment in maintenance and repair should be transparent and available to decision-makers.
Recommendation 5 (Finding 7). Federal agencies and other appropriate organizations should continue to collaborate to develop and refine governmentwide measures for outcomes of maintenance and repair investments and to develop
more standardized practices, unambiguous procedures, definitions, and models. The committee believes that those activities would be most effective if under the auspices of the Office of Management and Budget.
Recommendation 6 (Findings 6 and 8). Federal agencies should avoid the collection of data that serve no immediate mission-related purpose. Agencies should use a “knowledge-based” approach to condition assessment. Outcome metrics and models should make maximum use of existing data. When new or unique data are required to support the development of an outcome measure or model, there should be a clearly defined benefit to offset the cost of collecting and maintaining them.
Recommendation 7 (Findings 8 and 9). Federal agencies should continue to participate in and take advantage of collaborative efforts to develop rapid and effective data-collection methods (such as the use of sensors and visual imaging devices), to develop data-exchange standards that allow interoperability of data and software systems, to develop the empirical information needed for robust prediction models, and to develop practices that will reduce the cost of data collection and eliminate human error and bias.