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American Indian Tribes Press for Deferred Maintenance Funds
July 8, 2021 -
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Like a vicious illness sweeping the nation with no regard for a victim’s age, race or location, deferred maintenance has taken a heavy toll on the nation’s facilities, regardless of their age, location or type. While K-12 school districts typically get attention for their efforts to repair facilities after years of underfunded maintenance, one segment of the facilities market — federal buildings in Native American communities — also have been hit hard by deferred maintenance, and they are making the case for increased funding.
Leaders from American Indian tribes pressed federal agencies to make good on billions of dollars in deferred maintenance in these facilities at a recent House hearing, according to Federal Computer Week.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education and the Indian Health Service (IHS) operate or fund more than 1,800 federal facilities, ranging from fire stations to hospitals and schools. The buildings show the effects of underfunding. The average age of IHS facilities is more than 37 years, as compared to an average of nine or 10 in the private sector.
Many schools in these communities also need updates. The FY 2022 budget request for the Bureau of Indian Education includes $264.3 million in annual funding for construction. The agency is receiving mandatory funds from the Great American Outdoors Act, which can be used for priority deferred maintenance projects.
But the current deferred maintenance backlog for education facilities is $823.3 million. Education quarters, a separate category, has its own $102.1 million deferred maintenance backlog. Of the 86 schools classified by the agency as "poor," 73 currently don't have funding for major replacement or repair.
Dan Hounsell is Senior Editor, Facility Market.