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What Is the Facilities Master Plan Process?

A Facilities Master Plan can be an invaluable tool to help you manage your facilities effectively, if you dedicate the necessary time and personnel to do it well and if you have a reasonably good vision of what the future may demand of your unit.

Photo of the Aspen Ranger Station

Aspen Ranger Station.

Forest: White River
District: Aspen
Region: 2

Your Facilities Master Plan will be guided by your Region or Station Facilities Management Strategy, which was developed to support the USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan and National Facilities Strategy (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees). It will reflect service wide agendas and initiatives as well as regional or station emphases and influences. Most importantly, it will be shaped by local conditions and concerns, including requirements of local governments, local resource management issues and plans, current and future organizational structure, the condition of existing facilities, interactions with other agencies, and local public relations.

Your leadership team is responsible for the development of your Facilities Master Plan (FMP). Normally, the leadership team will charter a group or team to develop the plan. The facilities master planning group or team should consist of technical facilities specialists and a diverse cross section of people who are involved in facilities project decisions. Most units assign FMP team leadership to the facilities engineer. The unit facilities engineer should be a member of every FMP team because he or she is familiar with all the unit's facilities, has easy access to facilities files and records, and can provide engineering expertise the team will need. The group must have the authority to establish standards and criteria for assessing facilities. However, the final document will be a product of your leadership team's decisions.

TThe facilities master planning group will need to collect and review a broad array of information that will influence facilities management decisions. See What Is Included In the Facilities Master Plan? for information that must be considered. The facilities master planning group must identify how these issues will affect facility needs in coming years.

Of course, the FMP must identify how your facilities should support your unit's workforce. In order to do this, a workload analysis must be completed if the unit doesn't have a current one. This can be a time-consuming effort.

Criteria must be established to evaluate the unit's existing facilities. You can find evaluation criteria in Steps 3 and 4 of Engineering Manual EM-7310-4 Facilities Planning (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees).

Rating Your Facilities' Cost Effectiveness

Current facilities must be inventoried and evaluated on the basis of condition and usefulness. The FMP must identify what changes in facilities will be required to provide the right sorts of cost effective facilities, in appropriately maintained condition, in the most useful locations to provide effective support to the unit. You may find a Facilities Rating Spreadsheet helpful in determining the cost effectiveness of retaining existing buildings.

The facilities master planning group will probably find trade-offs or conflicts between what is possible or cost effective, and what would provide the most effective support. The FMP must identify recommendations for resolving these issues. It must provide guidance on whether current operations should continue at current sites, be moved to another location, or be consolidated with operations at an existing site. It must also provide guidance on which current facilities should be retained, decommissioned, or developed for an alternate use, and where new facilities should be acquired. The USDA has requirements for collocations, service centers, allowed space per employee, and other requirements that may affect the team's recommendations, so the team should check USDA directive DR 1620-002 before finalizing the Facilities Master Plan.

Finally, the FMP must be adopted by the unit leadership team and approved by the regional office or station headquarters as explained in Facilities Handbook 7309.11, chapter 22 - Facilities Master Plans.


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