Findings and Recommendations From Committing to the Cost of Ownership6
The nation's public buildings—government administration buildings, health care facilities, schools, correctional facilities, and a variety of other elements of public infrastructure—are assets acquired through the investment of tax dollars over the years and are critical to the nation's high quality of life and productive environment. Public officials—the stewards of these assets—must bear responsibility for their effective maintenance. Widespread underfunding of maintenance of public facilities, caused by many factors, can affect public health and safety, reduce the productivity of public employees, and cause long-term financial losses when buildings must be prematurely renewed or replaced.
This document is the report of a committee asked by the Building Research Board to undertake a broad review of maintenance and repair activities of government agencies and to recommend how these activities might be improved. Based on its own review of available information, consideration of reports by agency personnel and other professionals, and the experience of its members, the committee is troubled. The procedures and allocations of resources for managing the public' s built assets—influenced by a variety of financial and political pressures as well as technical requirements—are failing to protect these assets, and the
By the Committee on Advanced Maintenance Concepts for Buildings, Building Research Board, National Research Council, 1990, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.
potential costs of correcting past neglect are measured in billions of dollars. These procedures and allocations must be changed to recognize the full costs of ownership of these assets and to support appropriate maintenance activities. The committee hopes that its findings and recommendations will help to bring about these changes:
Underfunding is a widespread and persistent problem that undermines maintenance and repair (M&R) of public buildings. To overcome this problem, M&R budgets should be structured to identify explicitly the expenditures associated with routine M&R requirements and activities to reduce the backlog of deferred deficiencies. An appropriate budget allocation for routine M&R for a substantial inventory of facilities will typically be in the range of 2 to 4 percent of the aggregate current replacement value of those facilities (excluding land and major associated infrastructure). In the absence of specific information upon which to base an M& R budget, this funding level should be used as an absolute minimum value. Where neglect of maintenance has caused a backlog of needed repairs to accumulate, spending must exceed this minimum level until the backlog has been eliminated.
Periodic condition assessment is an essential step in effective facilities management. Formal condition assessment programs should be implemented by agencies responsible for M&R budgets. These programs will initially serve as the basis for establishing appropriate levels of funding required to reduce and eventually eliminate backlogs. Once a backlog is eliminated and a steady-state performance is achieved, the condition assessment becomes a management tool for monitoring the effectiveness of M& R activities. Condition assessment programs require trained technicians and managers and should be standardized to control their cost and to ensure consistency of results. Federal agencies and other owners and users of large inventories of buildings should undertake to establish guidelines for such programs.
While adequate M&R funding based on recognition of the full costs of ownership is a prerequisite for protection of the public's assets, effective maintenance management is also required to realize the full benefit of the funds made available. Agencies should make specific assignments of responsibility for M &R to qualified and trained staff and managers. Activities such as minor alterations and improvements that may be disguised as M&R should be clearly identified and not permitted to divert resources