Oct. 19, 2001

Lab's Facilities Management building for future

The Institutional Facilities Management Office was formed to provide non-parochial and strategic management of the Lab’s investments in its facilities and infrastructure in support of all of the Laboratory’s missions. Over the last four years, the Institutional Facilities Management Office has made significant progress in understanding and correcting some of the Lab’s more difficult facilities and infrastructure (F&I) problems. The health of the Lab’s facilities has been noticeably improved, and an effective partnership has been forged between customers and service providers to provide cost-effective correction of the Lab’s highest priority problems.

Managing F&I is getting a lot of attention in the public sector, and especially in the Department of Energy. In March 2001, the Senate Committee on Appropriations heard testimony in support of a National Nuclear Security Administration/Defense Programs initiative to obtain new funding for F&I management across the weapons complex — as much as $300 million next year to begin addressing the growing maintenance needs of older facilities. Director Bruce Tarter reported on the need for F&I recapitalization at our Lab and the processes we have in place to ensure investments are efficiently implemented.

When the IFM Office was formed, the Lab had in place some excellent systems to identify facility maintenance requirements. These included the Laboratory’s adaptation of the DOE Facilities Information Management System (FIMS) and Condition Assessment Survey (CAS) Program. The Plant Engineering Organization has worked with DOE to make FIMS and CAS a Labwide tool to identify, catalog and assess real property maintenance. The IFM Office has facilitated an effective prioritization process to focus all available funds on the Lab’s highest mission priorities.

Prioritization of maintenance entails identification of all deficient systems that would have an immediate impact on each organization’s mission goals. The highest priority projects are addressed with funding within a year. Important, but relatively less critical deficiencies are ranked for attention within two and three years. This list of projects is defined as the essential maintenance backlog, which is about 20 per cent of the total backlog.

After re-engineering many aspects of operations in the mid-1990s, the Lab began reinvesting $6 million of overhead cost savings in F&I in 1998 to begin reducing the backlog. Over the last two years, this level of investment, now a permanent part of the Laboratory Facility Charge (LFC), has grown to more than $8 million due to productivity improvements that have resulted from earlier investments. Each year these funds are directed to 150–200 highest priority projects that are co-managed by the Plant Engineering and the IFM in cooperation with the organizational customers.

As we have evolved the prioritization process, the total backlog has stabilized, but the essential backlog has grown from $39 million in FY98 to $46 million in FY01. This is due to an annual influx of $12-$15 million in new deficiencies each year and a shortage of capital funding directed at projects over $500,000.

Historically, Line Item and General Plant Projects have contributed at least $10 million each year to fund large institutional or non-programmatic capital improvement projects, such as large roof replacement, electrical and other utility upgrades, new infrastructure facilities, etc. Recent programmatic budget pressures have reduced the average capital investment to less than $5 million per year. Since a major essential project, such as replacing a $3 million roof in a single year, would effectively cripple the Lab’s ability to correct many of its other highest priority projects, the backlog growth cycle will continue unless additional funding can be found.

To address the lack of adequate space for offices, the IFM has sponsored "maintenance catch-up" projects to revitalize some of our older, structurally sound buildings. Bldgs. 314 and 315, two 50-plus-year-old barracks buildings containing 138 offices, were brought into good condition for the Chief Financial Office by replacing worn out windows, air conditioners, rugs, lighting, etc., and painting everything. Approximately 1,000 offices have been revitalized through this process in the last four years.

Today, approximately 600,000 square feet of excess (primarily laboratory) space has been returned to the institution. About half of this space is in contaminated legacy facilities that should be decontaminated and demolished (D&D). The two most visible legacies are Bldg. 251 and about 100,000 square feet of the former AVLIS facilities. Bldg. 251, an excess nuclear facility now managed by Hazardous Waste Management (HWM), needs significant cleanup funding to move out of the costly nuclear facility category. Similarly, present DOE funding remaining after the close-out of the USEC/AVLIS Program will address only about a third of ongoing ES&H surveillance and cleanup tasks.

Four years ago, the IFM Office sponsored a pilot project to D&D several contaminated support buildings in the former Bldg. 222 Chemistry and Material Science (CMS) complex. The Space Action Team (SAT), developed to manage contaminated and hazardous projects, demonstrated safe, cost-effective cleanup and D&D of five reinforced concrete buildings. Approximately 1,100 tons of materials were removed for about $80 per square foot, including all waste disposal costs. Recently SAT received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greening the Government Award for excellence in pollution prevention and recycling in D&D projects.

We now invest about $1 million in D&D each year to deal with the worst local ES&H problems. Since D&D costs for the low contamination level legacies (Bldgs. 212, 222, 412, 43, and 865) will be more than $50 million, timely progress will require an influx of D&D funding.

Over the last several years, DOE, the GAO, several DoD organizations, and many of our sister DOE organizations have identified the Lab’s maintenance prioritization and execution, D&D, and facility revitalization efforts as good examples of effective F&I management. If Congress approves the new NNSA/DP F&I initiative, the Lab should be in a good position to win new funding to correct or improve our F&I elements.

Being the Institutional Facilities Manager has been a challenging and rewarding assignment. Looking back, the most important accomplishment of the IFM Office was to build an effective, Labwide team to create trust among customers, service providers and Lab management. This team now exists and they are the ones who have made most of the IFM successes possible.

Dick O’Neil was the Laboratory’s Institutional Facilities Manager from 1997 to the beginning of 2001.