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Reduce Facility Costs Without Sacrificing the Future

COVID-19 has emptied government offices and propelled telework in historic ways.

As a result, agency facilities budgets are becoming targets for reduction because of the significant decline in tax revenues. Now, leaders face a difficult problem: How do they lower facility costs while considering a post-COVID-19 future? It’s crucial that leaders find smart opportunities for savings that help them navigate current circumstances without compromising future goals, particularly around the continuity of critical services for constituents.

“It’s important to be as strategic as possible around how budget cuts get made so, ultimately, you’re not sacrificing your future and still aligning with the overall mission and vision of the agency,” said Mark Schiff, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Enterprise Business Group at Gordian, a provider of facility and construction cost data, software and services for all phases of the building lifecycle.

To improve capital deployment and operational cost reduction, Schiff offered two strategies.

1. Leverage data and human expertise

Data is a critical asset for facility leaders who have to make tough, tactical choices around slashing costs. For instance, a county in California was able to save facility costs by using data to create a rubric of critical and less critical capital projects. This helped the county understand which projects could be set aside and which needed to continue for mission-critical continuity purposes.

Using data and human expertise, Gordian helped the county inventory all its physical assets and determine its deferred maintenance levels, the level at which an organization postpones building and equipment upkeep to save funds.

With project scoring, leaders were also able to transparently and persuasively present their decisions to key stakeholders using data-backed evidence.

“We want to be in a position where data rules the day,” Schiff said.

2. Communicate with stakeholders

Agencies can determine which facility services are fair game to consider for reduction by asking for key stakeholder and customer input.

It’s a surprisingly simple strategy but with effective impact.

For example, Gordian worked with one agency that collected and cleaned garbage cans every single day from each office. But what the agency quickly realized through talking with employees was that people didn’t mind having a wastebasket sit for a few days. The agency saved costs by cutting down on frequency.

“You can learn a lot through talking to your stakeholders and, ultimately, it creates better alignment and can save you and your taxpayers money,” Schiff said.

Agencies across the U.S. can access Gordian’s suite of solutions to help plan, build and maintain safe and reliable community spaces, facilities and infrastructure from planning to design through procurement, construction and operations.

“Gordian works with state and local government agencies, as well as federal agencies, to find smart opportunities for savings from data-driven capital planning to project delivery that saves time and controls costs,” Schiff said.

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Resilience Lessons From State & Local Government.” Download the full guide here.

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