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What Is the Preliminary Project Analysis, and How Is It Used?

Photo of a Visitors Center

Former Lolo Pass Visitors Center. The site was redeveloped in 2001-2002 to accommodate increasing visitor volume. Existing buildings were re-used. New structures are log construction.

Forest: Clearwater National Forest
District: Powell
Region: 1

When the Facility Management Plan recommends substantial changes in your facilities, a Preliminary Project Analysis (PPA) must be completed before you can make the recommended changes.

The PPA is the preliminary step in the facility management process that reviews all viable project alternatives and provides recommendations for further specific project development action.

A PPA is done for a single project or for a site with related projects.

The analysis is a screening and analytical evaluation process that enables managers to select the best alternative for a major facilities change. A PPA must be completed before you proceed with construction of new facilities or lease, exchange, addition, renovation, purchase, alternate use, or disposal of existing facilities.

Detailed requirements for completing a Preliminary Project Analysis (PPA) are in Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 7309.11 Chapter 20, Section 23. Your PPA process will:

  • Clarify project needs stated in the Facilities Master Plan.

  • Identify appropriate evaluation criteria.

  • Establish minimum requirements for a feasible alternative.

  • Develop a broad range of alternatives.

  • Gather data about expected performance of alternatives with respect to evaluation criteria.

  • Select the preferred alternative by analyzing tradeoffs.

  • These stages are further described in Engineering Management Series publication EM-7310-2, Making Sound Facility Development Decisions (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees).
Photo of a Visitors Center

The completed Lolo Pass Visitor's Center.

Forest: Clearwater National Forest
District: Powell
Region: 1

Choosing by Advantages (CBA) and Value Analysis (VA) are the recommended processes to use in selecting the preferred alternative, and are required in certain circumstances by some Regions and Stations. VA and CBA training are offered by the Forest Service, and there is a cadre of Forest Service employees already trained in these processes that can assist you. Check with your Region or Station facilities group leader for more information about training and trained personnel.

The elements of your completed PPA will include a draft prospectus, a location analysis, an analysis of alternatives, a conceptual design if changing or acquiring a facility, and recommendations.

You may find that performing a Life Cycle Cost Analysis (website available to Forest Service employees) or the Userís Guide to the Facility Lease, Purchase, Or Construction Spreadsheet will give you a clearer view of the cost of each alternative over the life of the building or site.

The draft prospectus you develop as part of the PPA process will become the final prospectus for your project when you add final funding information and complete the development considerations section. The final prospectus, which includes an up-to-date site development plan, is the main documentation of the requirements for your facility that will be used during facility design or lease contracting, so it is to your advantage to assure that all important issues are addressed in the prospectus. A prospectus with missing or poorly-defined facility aesthetic and performance requirements will cause difficulties with the designer or prospective lessors and may result in a facility that does not meet your needs.

[photo] The old Lolo Pass Visitor Center cabin

The old Lolo Pass Visitor Center cabin was converted into a residence for the host.

Forest: Clearwater National Forest
District: Powell
Region: 1

A PPA recommendation that affects a historic structure may trigger the requirements of section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. See the Historic Facilities section of the Facilities Toolkit for more information on requirements for historic facilities.

A PPA constitutes a "Proposed Action" that may need to undergo environmental analysis and documentation in accordance with FSH 1909.15 - Environmental Policy and Procedures Handbook. The analysis, supporting documentation, and recommendations serve as the basis for analyzing and documenting the environmental consequences of the proposed actions. The PPA should be submitted to the appropriate line officer, who will determine the actions needed.

The following example PPAs may help units beginning the PPA process organize their documents.

  • Combined Mystic District Office and Rocky Mountain Research Station Work Unit PPA:

    • (885 KB)

    • (754 KB)

  • Pikes Peak Office PPA :

    • (206 KB)

  • Elkhart Office PPA:

    • (1720 KB)

  • Pine Ridge Office PPA :

    • (993 KB)


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