DoD adopts Army Corps of Engineers BUILDER SMS standard for all facility condition assessments
By James Frisinger
Fort Worth District
FORT WORTH, Texas -- A decision in September 2013 by the Department of Defense to mandate use of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or USACE-developed facility condition assessment software opens up new asset management opportunities across the Corps.
The genesis of this USACE Asset Management Program business line came more than three years ago when the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) approached USACE Headquarters. DLA sought help assessing and verifying more than 25,000 assets at nearly 885 locations worldwide. USACE Headquarters then turned to its Fort Worth District for the mission. Fort Worth later join with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL) in Champaign, Ill., to partner with DLA in this pioneering effort. They would utilize and improve upon the BUILDER Sustainment Management System (SMS) facility condition assessment software developed by ERDC-CERL.
There have been two key developments since the launch:
• The partnership forged in 2010 further developed ERDC-CERL's BUILDER SMS to meet DLA requirements. To execute the DLA mission, USACE trained more than 200 new facility condition assessors. In addition to the BUILDER SMS assessments, real property inventory and associated environmental assessments were added to the DLA program, relying on support from more than 700 USACE employees across every single major subordinate command. With this strong support from the USACE enterprise, the Fort Worth District and ERDC-CERL proved they could work with the customer's changing requirements, as the three-way partnership broke new ground together.
• The successful collaboration with DLA, helping the DoD agency meet its audit-ready goals, showcased a new line of expertise for USACE. That reputation is spreading. It has attracted new customers wanting to put BUILDER SMS to work helping facility managers more wisely deploy their funds. Several districts are working on further asset management initiatives.
BUILDER SMS, in short, has become a key part in keeping the Army Corps of Engineers relevant in the future, said Brian Kamisato, acting director of regional business in the USACE Southwestern Division in Dallas.
He said the DoD's decision to require BUILDER SMS is also timely. It provides an excellent asset management framework for the DoD to use as the Services make critical decisions on how to invest their limited maintenance and repair funding. We are moving into an era of less Military Construction and more SRM, and BUILDER helps to inform consistent SRM prioritization.
Finding the facility "sweet spot."
While the SMS software suite is best known for BUILDER, it also includes PAVER, ROOFER and RAILER modules. SMS is a business process. All modules use the same basic concepts of a condition index rating, on a 0-100 scale, based on inspections for objective, repeatable condition assessment. Detailed system inventory identifies components with their life-cycle attributes and predicted deterioration rates. Utilizing BUILDER's predictive capabilities gives decision makers data to determine when, where and how best to invest in their physical plant.
By carefully tracking facility condition over its life cycle, BUILDER helps managers find that "sweet spot" when an investment in the physical plant is most effective, said Kamisato.
It is a leading-edge product that supports the facilities community of practice, said Lance Marrano, SMS program manager for ERDC-CERL.
"From an industry perspective, it's a recognition and transition from 'Tell me what's broke so I can fix it' to 'Give me the complete picture of where my assets are in the life cycle so I can be proactive in planning for my investment in them,' " said Marrano.
It also removes emotion and bias out of the process of identifying what's broken.
"Instead of us paying experts to go through a building and writing down whatever the tenant yells loudest about to fix - the squeaky wheel gets the grease - we are now really having a robust engineering-based collection of all the conditions in the facility," he said.
Adopting a single DoD standard
The mandate will also help the DoD get a better handle on its enormous physical plant, which ERDC estimates at 300,000 buildings with 2.3 billion square feet. It's the largest portfolio in the world, said Marrano, but not all of DoD's components use the same process to track these assets. Requiring BUILDER will change that.
The DoD set a five-year deadline for having all facilities and components inspected and rated using BUILDER.
ERDC-CERL has been designated as a Technical Center of Expertise. Its job is to keep developing BUILDER as a tool, tweaking it, helping customers shape the database, said Kamisato. In the ongoing USACE Asset Management enterprise model, a district or districts help customers implement BUILDER. Fort Worth District is also helping the Air Force Civil Engineer Center with its BUILDER requirements, in part by providing training.
"We are actively training Air Force Base Civil Engineer personnel on how to use the outputs of BUILDER to make decisions and also how to conduct BUILDER facility condition assessments," he said. "That's just one way USACE can customize its Asset Management Program to meet customer needs."
Another example is the fully integrated partnership the Fort Worth District and ERDC-CERL developed with DLA, said Kamisato. In that model, USACE performs site visit assessments and builds a strong BUILDER database. Then USACE helps the customer analyze database outputs, prioritize facility deficiencies and develop work packages using a new SRM Wizard developed in Fort Worth.
USACE can then execute the construction, update the BUILDER database then conduct the next round of assessment site visits, beginning a new cycle.
Flexibility to fill unique customer needs
"We don't necessarily have to do it all for them," said Kamisato. "We could do assessments for the buildings. Or we could teach them how to do the assessments. Or we could advise them on how to set up the system. It really doesn't matter. We are also seeing customers leverage the BUILDER site visits to conduct additional types of important assessments, including real property inventory, space utilization, high performance sustainable buildings, and energy audits. This also provides a tremendous opportunity for USACE to bring our real estate, environmental, and engineering capabilities to bear and to deliver value to our customers.
"For the Corps, what we are focused on is making sure that any customer who chooses to implement BUILDER is successful. We have a lot to offer the DoD and other Federal agencies in terms of BUILDER implementation expertise. We have developed a bench of team members across our enterprise who know how to conduct facility condition assessments, and we are working to grow more assessors and trainers" Kamisato said.
"I'm really proud of the work the Fort Worth District has done," he said. "They've blazed new ground on this, especially with the DLA Program, then with the Air Force, in implementing something new and difficult."
"I think they just embody our motto of 'Pacesetters'," he said. "They're establishing a new line of operation for USACE that will keep us relevant into the future."