Diverse National Park Service Portfolio Complicates Facility And Maintenance Decisions
The NPS asset portfolio consists of 31 different asset types, which range from the normal groups of building types to roads, maintained landscapes, archeological sites, towers/missile silos, marinas, fortifications, and monuments. Even within these categories, the types are not considered homogeneous: For example, buildings include types as disparate as visitor centers and lighthouses. Therefore, using FCI to compare conditions between a road, a constructed waterway, and a fortification seemed illogical and of limited value in the decision-making process, as such a diverse portfolio complicates facility and maintenance decisions. The value of using FCI to determine where to focus funding seems especially suspect when one considers comparing the condition of historical structures with cultural significance, such as the Lincoln Memorial, to a trail at Yellowstone National Park. The costs to correct deficiencies as well as the current replacement values are so different that a direct comparison of FCI is not necessarily appropriate.
In the past, NPS addressed asset needs by focusing on the entire portfolio, regardless of importance to the mission or the criticality of a deficiency. This strategy was a mile wide and an inch deep. NPS soon determined that combining FCI with a method of prioritizing assets and then identifying within those assets which systems were critical to keep them operational offered the granularity to make better strategic decisions. Prioritizing assets was determined by the major stakeholders at individual parks. These stakeholders applied criteria to rate and score each asset generally based on its resource preservation, visitor use, park operations, and substitutability qualities. The resulting score, on a scale from 0 to 100, is the API. Under this scale, the assets closer to 100 are considered mission critical; they should be maintained to a higher standard and therefore require the majority of the focus and available funding.
The NPS portfolio continues to expand. In this environment of constrained funding, it was important to focus funding on the systems with the most impact on the protection, condition, and operational aspects of the highest API scoring assets. The roof and windows on a visitor center, for example, protect that asset from further damage and deterioration while interior finishes, although they may enhance the visitor experience, do not keep the visitor center from being operational. From this thinking, NPS developed a list of critical systems for each asset type. The critical systems list for each asset type in the service's portfolio helped transform data into information to support decisions by focusing investment dollars on systems critical to ongoing operation and functional integrity.