U.S. Military Rethinks Facilities' Deferred Maintenance

Department is rolling out new tools that will help officials make better decisions on spending maintenance dollars.   May 3, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor 

For decades, maintenance and engineering managers have repeatedly asked facility executives and the general public for more money to address deferred maintenance issues that plague institutional and commercial facilities. What has been lacking in many cases is a different strategy for attacking the problem. Now the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is trying a new approach to its backlog, which the Government Accountability Office estimates to be at least $137 billion. 

The department is rolling out new tools that will not necessarily solve the problem but will help officials make better decisions on exactly how they’re spending their maintenance dollars, according to the Federal News Network

The problem is getting worse each year because the department has consistently underbudgeted for what its own facilities sustainment model says is needed to keep its structures in good working order. Since funding has proven to be a difficult challenge, officials say they are now pivoting to a new model that focuses their limited sustainment dollars on the facilities that matter most and where they can do the most good. 

Officials hope to use the system to rebalance their overall facility sustainment restoration and modernization (FSRM) accounts. For instance, it might make sense to put more money toward keeping facilities that are in good shape from deteriorating and less money on painting over cracks in buildings that already have failed. 

The new system is not planned to be fully in place until 2026, but the department is asking Congress for more funding this year to speed up its development. Officials say the biggest change is managing and prioritizing DoD’s facility sustainment dollars with more granular data, rather than treating all buildings essentially equally in one large portfolio. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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