So, how did you spend the money?

By Dan Hounsell  

By many measures, the financial outlook for a growing number of maintenance and engineering departments is just a bit rosier these days.

Managers have become much more savvy about documenting deferred maintenance in buildings. They have helped top management understand the benefits of properly maintaining buildings, as well as the risks of not doing so. As a result, some organizations — though certainly not all — have begun funding building maintenance at more realistic levels.

Taking one look at the number and size of bond issues passed in recent years by large school districts nationwide reveals that even some tight-fisted taxpayers who finance school districts get the message.

Given the tight budgets with which all institutional and commercial facilities operate these days, this progress is no small feat.

So here’s the inevitable question: Are these maintenance and engineering departments producing tangible results with the newfound funds?

For years, the top priority for most maintenance managers — and still the top priority for many — was simply to get enough money to keep facilities operating safely, efficiently and up to code. Those footing the bill, whether building owners or taxpayers, saw little need to pay attention to the condition of buildings. They didn’t see maintenance as a “core business.”

Now, that mindset is shifting a bit. So managers might want to prepare themselves for questions about how they’ve spent these funds and, more importantly, whether the organization has benefited from its investment. The questions are likely to be tough, and managers shouldn’t take this need for accountability lightly.

In fact, this inevitable shift to greater accountability might be even more important than their efforts to secure the funding in the first place. If building owners and taxpayers who put their trust in managers to spend the money wisely find out that managers haven’t delivered on their promises, it’s likely be a long time before they trust maintenance again.

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  posted on 1/1/2005   Article Use Policy

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