“USACE does a good job of maintenance, but not a good job of maintenance management.”
This was the conclusion of Jacobs Engineering, an independent contractor who was hired in 2011 to complete an assessment of the Corps’ Facility Equipment Maintenance (FEM) National Utilization Plan. According to best practices cited by Jacobs, an organization should be spending 4.8 percent of its budget on maintenance. Right now, the Corps spends about 0.2 percent.
As a result of the assessment, Michael Ensch, chief of operations, Directorate of Civil Works, Headquarters, issued a national memorandum concerning the development of a maintenance management strategy. The memorandum detailed the creation of eight pilot studies, one for each of the Corps’ eight divisions, to be completed by November 2012.
According to Bob Leitch, Headquarters program manager for Maintenance Management, the purposes of the pilot studies are to: 1) have a clear, agency wide initiative to prioritize, record and report asset program maintenance; 2) establish common maintenance guidelines that can be applied to all business lines, divisions and geographies, and 3) create a maintenance management implementation plan for all users with the Corps that is adaptable and flexible to the unique requirements and circumstances present across the Corps.
Cochiti Dam, along with all other Corps’ dams throughout the country, went through a screening and prioritization process in order to determine whether its infrastructure was determined to be critical. Critical infrastructure is defined as systems and assets so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of the system and its assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of these matters (the definition is in the PATRIOT Act of 2001). Of the dams in South Pacific Division, 10 were determined to have severe detrimental effects if they failed, and Cochiti was ranked eighth out of the 10. Therefore, Albuquerque District nominated Cochiti for a pilot study, and it was selected.
“Because it was selected as the Division pilot study site, the lessons learned will enable the District and the rest of South Pacific Division to ‘maximize’ the effective use of each maintenance dollar to improve or sustain value to the district, region, and eventually the nation,” said Operations Asset Manager Felton Prosper.
During the week of October 15-19, representatives from Jacobs Engineering, Headquarters, Division, Walla Walla District, Cochiti staff, and the District’s Programs and Asset Management Branch came together for the study. They identified and prioritized Cochiti’s assets in two different areas: flood risk management (the dam and all associated assets) and recreation (the campground, boat launch and other associated assets).
The pilot study focused on real property accountability and maintenance, specifically flood risk management property, like the dam and the campground. Furthermore, the District’s use and management of the FEM tracking system was under scrutiny.
“Since deploying FEM in April 2010, the Albuquerque District has taken an aggressive approach to tracking maintenance for its aging infrastructure by hiring an Operations Asset Manager and three FEM technicians to properly track maintenance, labor and conduct life cycle management for all nine dams,” Prosper said.
As Operations Asset Manager, it is Prosper’s responsibility to make sure the District is in compliance for all property, and property is divided into two main categories: real and personal. Real property includes anything that is fixed and cannot move. This includes all of the dams and adjacent structures and any other buildings with four or more walls and a roof. Personal property is identified as anything that is expendable or pilferable, such as equipment, tools and electrical devices.
“As a first step, all maintenance data was transferred from an older maintenance software database, DYNASTAR, into FEMS, a state-of-the-art system,” he said. “When all of the data was transferred, the District met Phase I of the FEM National Utilization Plan.”
The three FEM Technicians selected to serve as the primary schedulers and estimators for all real and personal property are: Ralph Arias, who is responsible for Santa Rosa, Two Rivers and Conchas Dams; Christina Serrano, responsible for Abiquiu, Cochiti, Jemez and Galisteo Dams; and Bernadine Cisneros, who is responsible for John Martin and Trinidad Dams.
The pilot study made it clear that, as the Corps moves forward with implementation of
Maintenance Management, it must adhere to the following expectations and challenges: 1) know your inventory and be able to articulate it; 2) know the condition of each component and incorporate the consequences of failure to the extent possible, 3) know what resources are required for proper maintenance; 4) know and understand the availability of resources (labor and costs) available for maintenance; and 5) manage the gap between what you have and what you need.
Albuquerque was the sixth pilot study to be conducted, and there will be two more in November. Once the final two are completed, the Corps will revise its draft Maintenance Management Improvement Plan (MMIP) and issue an Operation Order to implement the final MMIP across the Corps.
“Even though we have limited funding, we need to move forward with assessing and maintaining our aging infrastructure,” Prosper said. “FEM is an excellent tool for helping us do that, along with communication among the field sites at the dams, Programs and Asset Management Branch, Resource Management, Real Estate, Logistics and Internal Review. It’s truly a team effort!”