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The Department of Defense (DoD) is struggling to maintain its enormous infrastructure portfolio in support of both current and anticipated mission requirements. Although the department spends more than $20 billion annually on facilities sustainment, restoration and deferred maintenance, a recent DoD report rated 32 percent of its facilities worldwide in “poor” or “failing” condition. Several related problems hinder DoD’s efforts to shore up deteriorating infrastructure.
“The time-consuming method of physical inspection also means that years—and sometimes even decades—may pass between inspections. ”
Key among them are budget cuts, which have reduced proposed funding for facility sustainment to just 74 percent of requirements, in contrast to the department’s goal of at least 90 percent. As a result, many facilities are operating well beyond their intended service life.
In addition, the military services are carrying excess capacity of about 20 percent, including 30 percent in the Air Force, thus adding to the sustainment burden. Compounding these issues, the methods the DoD uses to collect and analyze infrastructure data to make portfolio management decisions are quite labor-intensive and costly.
The challenges relating to data collection and analysis merit deeper discussion. The DoD manages more than 24.9 million acres of land worldwide, occupying 276,770 buildings comprising more than 2.2 billion square feet. These locations also contain 178,113 structures (towers, storage tanks, piers, and wharfs), and another 107,092 linear structures (runways, roads, pavement, fences, and electrical distribution lines).
To inspect and help determine what infrastructure is in need of repair, upgrade, or replacement, the DoD currently sends out inspection teams to physically observe and evaluate each building, tower, road, pipeline, etc. The team manually gathers assessment data and often stores it in disconnected systems, thus preventing the sharing of information for advanced analytics or enterprise-wide analysis.
Errors can creep into the data through manual input or the subjective assessments of individual inspectors. The time-consuming method of physical inspection also means that years—and sometimes even decades—may pass between inspections.