Activity Management and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center
Over the next few years, the Air Force Activity Management Plan will become the structured business discipline for “cradle to grave” management of all the service’s installation assets.
By Jesse E. Barrera, P.E., M.SAME, and Zakary J. Payne, P.E., M.SAME
In today’s fiscal environment, it is increasingly challenging for the U.S. Air Force to manage all built and natural infrastructure activities. With less discretionary funding, the service needed a process to ensure limited funds were spent on the most critical needs. This meant challenging the status quo of maintaining infrastructure from a “fair share” discretionary approach to an enterprise-wide, risk-based, quantifiable funding structure that considers investments in the right asset at the right time.
The concept of asset management is nothing new. Private industry and other government agencies have made capital investment decisions based on asset conditions and predictive modeling for some time. The Air Force’s shaping of a more efficient asset management method began in 2007 with an activity management process that it then officially adopted in 2010—producing a disciplined, standardized approach across the enterprise.
The activity management process integrates the requirements needed to deliver installation support services for mission execution, provides the capability to advocate for resources, and supports the allocation of necessary resources to operate, maintain and protect installations at the lowest lifecycle cost. It then takes these requirements and aligns them into long-term and short-term investment execution strategies.
Energy efficient lightning being installed in an aircraft hangar at Holloman AFB, N.M. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY AIRMAN 1ST CLASS EILEEN PAYNE
In fall 2012, the Air Force assigned the execution of centralized facility sustainment, restoration, modernization and demolition, as well as its environmental and energy programs, to the newly established Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC). The new agency was given the responsibility of merging several centralized infrastructure investment programs into a single risk-based approach with the goal of looking into future years and becoming more proactive on planning, design and contracting actions. AFCEC’s Planning & Integration Directorate began the transformation by focusing on short-term investment strategies.
One of the first steps in centralization was to develop a common foundation for every major command and installation from which to operate. Previously, each major command took a different approach to prioritizing and executing installation requirements. The new framework was developed and implemented through the Air Force Comprehensive Asset Management Plan. The Air Force Comprehensive Asset Management Plan produced a risk-based Integrated Priority List and Construction Tasking Order that detailed how the Air Force was going to allocate and execute resources to meet mission needs. There was now a risk-based priority list to articulate to leadership how resources were going to be allocated, and why.
The model primarily considers an asset’s “probability of failure” and the “consequence of failure.” The probability of failure is derived from an asset’s condition index, a measure of its total condition at a specific point with respect to physical condition, function, and ability to support the current occupant or mission. The consequence of failure is based on the importance of the mission supported by that particular asset.
After two fiscal years, the Integrated Priority List process and the Comprehensive Asset Management Plan have been deemed a success. The Air Force, however, has continued to evaluate and improve on the process. In FY2015, the program received authority to advertise on June 25, 2014. Feedback from the field was this was too late to support potential contract award by the end of the fiscal year or early in the next. The process was improved for FY2016 and the program received authority to advertise on prioritized projects in April 2015—more than five months ahead of the start of the fiscal year. This increased lead time is allowing installations to get a head start on their programs and potentially buy FY2016 projects in FY2015.
A risk-based framework provides a simple, standardized way for installation commanders to accurately capture mission impact against the physical condition of key assets. This framework is both executable at the tactical level and informative at the strategic level. AFCEC IMAGE
FORECASTING FUTURE NEEDS
The work to date is just the first step toward proactive, strategic asset management. The Air Force is now taking on the much larger second step to effectively manage the entirety of its built and natural infrastructure portfolio and sustain delivery of an activity at a defined level of service.
With so much focus on the Air Force Comprehensive Asset Management Plan and short-term execution, moves away from legacy management systems, as well as significant changes to the Civil Engineer community at installations and major commands, there was a fear that activity management was being shelved. In fact, the process has only gained momentum. The long-term investment strategy and foundation of activity management lies with the Air Force Activity Management Plan.
Over the next few years, the Air Force Activity Management Plan will become the structured business discipline for the “cradle to grave” management of assets that provides decision-makers with data needed to plan, design, operate, maintain and dispose of or replace assets. It will be the single point through which all information relating to a given activity can be found and will aid in determining what investments provide the greatest return while reducing risk.
A policy to implement a facility condition assessment standard, provided by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, took effect in 2013. The policy requires all Department of Defense agencies to provide facility condition assessments via web-based sustainment management system (SMS) software. The goal is to be more proactive in planning, identifying, budgeting for, and executing requirements.
Currently, PAVER and BUILDER are utilized for calculating and validating condition assessment scores and asset inventory. The Air Force also is spearheading development of a utilities SMS through the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, which will add to and standardize requirements forecasting across the three built infrastructure activities. An SMS playbook, under development as well, will implement SMS across the Civil Engineer enterprise and drive utilization in day-to-day operations. An integrated effort, and accurate data, are key to SMS forecasting the right requirement at the right time.
ENSURING BETTER DECISIONS
By transforming to an activity management approach, the Air Force is postured for success. The service can maintain its assets to support the delivery of agreed upon level of service, maintain a proactive model to forecast out-year requirements, and provide visibility to leadership regarding risk and consequences when funding levels are less than optimal.
A full understanding of all available assets and their conditions is paramount. The Air Force Activity Management Plan is not just a philosophy; it provides a consistent, everyday process that synchronizes actions from the boiler room to the board room.