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What happens when governments run out of money to perform asset maintenance on buildings? All across America, schools, jails, historical sites, police stations, firehouses, courthouses and so on are being neglected. Excuses come in the forms of a budget crunch, storms or age, but the bottom line is our nation’s buildings are starting to fall apart when they do not need to be.

We are a nation built upon ingenuity, independence and hard work. However, somewhere down the line, the people we have trusted with our nation’s infrastructure stopped making intelligent facility managementdecisions and replaced them with short sighted, self preserving actions. This has essentially dug such a great big hole that many times it makes more sense to demolish a dilapidated building than to repair it.

Where Did the Courage Go

It is fact, not fiction, that when buildings are properly maintained, they last longer, have fewer major repairs and are more energy efficient. Most importantly, the costs of maintaining a building are just a fraction of the costs in relation to new structures being built. So the question becomes, why? One cause is that government officials, town councils and school boards are elected for short periods of time. This makes it more important to elected officials to make short sighted maintenance budget cuts versus investing in a way that will preserve our heritage as well lower the burden our children will inherit.

Short sighted or tunnel vision from elected officials occurs because it is important for them to demonstrate that they are taking action. If the budget can be reduced for the given year then they look good. Unfortunately, very little thought is given to the mid-long term outlook. For example, when given the choice between improving maintenance operations versus cutbacks, government officials choose the cutbacks too often. This action fails to recognize that improving maintenance operations with tools such as an EAM/CMMS will actually save us more money over the years.

There is also an eerie similarity to the corporate world that is taking place. The average tenure of a CEO is about 3 years. Too often someone is brought in to increase profitability or conduct a turnaround but fails to make lasting changes. Perhaps the most visible issue of the day is energy efficiency. Going green is a time consuming endeavor as retrofitting or new construction may take several years. From data center energy management to industrial sustainability good ideas take time to reach fruition.

Maintenance Common Sense for Governments

Maintenance is not optional for government facilities management, it is required. Poorly maintained buildings pose a public hazard long before they need to be condemned or torn down. Failure to perform maintenance lowers property values, has a tendency to increase crime and can pose significant health and safety hazards as a result of pest infestations, water damage and rot. How much money will one good lawsuit against a government cost?

There are several reasons why government officials need to think more about maintaining their communities than looking good. Fortunately, an EAM/CMMS solution can make politicians happy. Some of these reasons include:

An EAM/CMMS System Makes Voters Happy

  • Lower labor costs with no lost jobs; An EAM/CMMS enables more to be done with the same amount of resources, reducing overtime due to better scheduling and planning. Voters happy.
  • Fewer Capital repairs; Capital budgets are decreased because there will be fewer major repairs due to better maintained facilities. Voters happy.
  • Fewer major construction needed; Building are lasting longer, freeing up monies for refurbishment of schools and parks. Voters Happy.
  • Historical preservation; Historical landmarks can be saved preserving the communities heritage and pride. Voters Happy
  • Fewer liability issues; Better asset maintenance history, fewer lawsuits, lower legal fees, Outside attorneys very unhappy.

No one is suggesting that an EAM/CMMS system can turn around a budget deficit but it can help. The real question is whether or not the officials you have elected have the courage to do the right thing before our cities start looking like the movie scenes from Escape to New York or I am Legend. I normally do not write opinionated articles but it is a Wednesday morning and my coffee spilled.

Share with us how your elected officials are handling the crisis. If you liked this article you may also enjoy reading: