Establishing a Facility Condition Assessment System at James Madison University

New Case Study

The Client
James Madison University (JMU) is a public university within the Commonwealth of Virginia. The University was founded in 1908 and has almost 19,000 students enrolled. There are 154 buildings on the campus, spread across 696 acres of land, and over six million square feet of facilities.

The Challenge
JMU’ s Facilities Management Mission Statement is to be dedicated to excellence in customer service and to provide quality facilities-related support to the university community. The University wanted to involve their entire campus community in a well-defined, consistently used and commonly understood process for planning and decision-making. This process would emphasize accountability and tie resource allocation to institutional effectiveness.

The University needed to plan for a sufficient amount of resources to achieve their goals. They needed to develop a process for decision-making and planning that emphasized accountability, as well as a set of tools with which to execute that process. JMU also wanted to tie resource allocation to institutional effectiveness, with the ultimate goal of providing a safe, attractive, service-oriented campus. Safety and attractiveness are major selling points for institutions of higher learning, such as JMU, that must stand out for potential students in an increasingly competitive landscape .

A related challenge came to the fore in 2005, when the Commonwealth of Virginia instituted a mandate (Item C-194.10 of Chapter 951 of the 2005 Acts of Assembly) that says “Institutions of higher education and other agencies shall perform facility condition assessments (FCA) of their facilities as quickly and as comprehensively as feasibly possible.”

The Solution
In 2005, state agencies and institutions within the Commonwealth of Virginia began implementation of FICAS (Facilities Inventory Condition Assessment System). As a result, James Madison University deployed VFA.facility to meet the government’s FICAS requirements, and be eligible to obtain funding.

The Results
FICAS provided an overall snapshot of all of the facilities belonging to JMU in a reliable, centralized database. JMU can now extract and dissect data across an entire portfolio, for particular buildings, and even for specific systems or types of problems. FICAS also calculated the industry-standard Facility Condition Index, which is determined by dividing the total cost of existing requirements over the current replacement value of facilities. JMU’s facility portfolio had an average FCI of 0.32 – an FCI of over 0.10 means that the portfolio has conditions that should be addressed to meet the goals of “Best in Class” facilities management. Using the FCI for individual buildings, the University was able to decide which buildings to renovate and which to replace, and had clear data regarding what requirements to address and how to reduce the FCI. FICAS provided the facilities management team with industry-standard lifecycle and cost data based on RSMeans, and allowed prioritization of projects and volume cost savings through bundled projects.

The facilities information in FICAS helped the University to understand the magnitude of deferred maintenance costs. The facilities management department became more involved with the process of capital planning. FICAS created a reduced time frame for creating budgets, improved forecasting, and provided readily available, comprehensive reports that enabled the facilities management team to get “buy-in” from the University leadership as well as building occupants. It also made it possible for the University to maintain or reduce the Facility Condition Index across the portfolio. The software allowed the University to create sophisticated budget scenarios and reports which helped with strategic analysis, making it possible for the capital planning process to be integrated with the University’s strategic planning efforts.