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Air Force launches strategic approach to asset management

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- The Air Force Civil Engineer Center recently rolled out the first comprehensive two-year integrated priorities list to strategically order funding of sustainment, restoration, modernization, environmental and demolition projects across the Air Force portfolio.

The IPL reflects a risk-based programmatic approach known as asset management and uses an objective scoring model to assess risk to Airmen and risk to mission, as well as incorporating cost-saving investments.

Projects are scored based on three factors: probability of failure, consequence of failure and savings. The list is based on an algorithm which weighs the repercussions of an asset failing versus the likelihood that it will fail, and uses that data to prioritize Air Force projects across the world. With this approach, a significant portion of funding for the next fiscal year is allocated to the repair of airfield pavements and other critical facilities and infrastructure items that have significant impacts on operational missions.

"This IPL is a quantum leap forward in managing the billion dollar annual centralized program, in that it moved the asset management approach from theory into practical application, ensuring the Air Force spends the next tax dollar on its next most-important natural or built-infrastructure requirement," said Col. Justin Davey, director of AFCEC's Planning and Integration Directorate. "We can quantifiably demonstrate we are allocating resources to extend the service life or invest in our most valuable assets to minimize impact to the mission."

After base civil engineers input their installation's requirements and associated scores into an online database, programmers at major commands analyze all requirements and assign each project a priority. AFCEC pulls base and major command inputs, then scores and prioritizes all projects. The final result is the IPL. Everything above the anticipated funding line is approved for the coming fiscal year. A portion of the requirements below the funding line are also prepared for award next fiscal year, or earlier if additional funds come available.

While the IPL is initially formed using an objective scoring model, senior civil engineers from each of the Air Force's major commands, with advice from subject matter experts and leadership, make some subjective adjustments to the priorities. Both the criteria used to score projects and the final IPL are reviewed and approved through the Installation Governance Structure.

"In light of sequestration and other government spending cuts, it's more important than ever to understand how building, maintaining and repairing assets across the world impacts the Air Force's ability to provide responsive and effective global vigilance, global reach and global power," said Col. Gregory Ottoman, P&I's activity integration division chief.

The IPL also provides the civil engineering field with a predictable view of how AFCEC manages assets, Davey said.

"AFCEC provides transparency in how we manage Air Force dollars which holds us accountable to the civil engineering field we serve," he said. "The IGS reviews and approves both the scoring model and the IPL, so there is no mistaking how projects are ranked, and which ones are slated for execution in the upcoming fiscal year."

As of June, the completed IPL forecasts funding requirements two fiscal years in advance (Fiscal 2015 and Fiscal 2016) to give private industry contractors interested in bidding on work ample time to prepare their strategy. The results should mean smoother contract execution and higher quality work at a lower cost.

The operations and P&I directorates are also refining sustainment management systems that will help with asset visibility and anticipate requirements in advance of assets showing wear and tear to better project an installation's funding needs down the road. SMS tools, such as PAVER for pavements and BUILDER for vertical structures, provide engineers with powerful tools to inventory and assess the condition of Air Force assets in a standardized manner. The tools also give base civil engineers a projection of what action to take to maximize an asset's service life, which in turn minimizes the cost of sustaining the asset.

The recent success of the IPL rollout is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what the future holds, Ottoman said.

"The IPL is the first step toward proactive and strategic asset management," Ottoman added. "Now that our base civil engineers have embraced SMS, AFCEC will be able to effectively manage the entirety of the Air Force built and natural infrastructure portfolio, with the end goal of getting the maximum value out of each taxpayer dollar we spend."

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