Measuring Utilization in Washington - What will actually get measured?

July 13, 2013

There is raft of new and interesting legislation being proposed in the House of Representatives to cut federal spending by reducing federal office space. One such bill, H.R. 26121: Public Building Savings and Reform Act of 2013, was introduced on July 8th by Reb. Lou Barletta [R-PA11]. Section 12 of this bill calls for the Administrator of General Services to develop and implement a method of measuring actual utilization rates of its buildings and a plan for incorporating such utilization rates into performance metrics. The method shall be based on actual utilization by “rentable sq ft per person”. Two important points should be considered regarding this bill; refinement for the definition and intent for Actual Utilization Rate and acknowledgement of the measurement method.

Actual Utilization: What would improve this bill is a further definition of “actual utilization rate” to ensure that it covers two forms of vacancy: 1) Assigned Vacancy - resulting when a workspace has no assigned occupant, and 2) Actual Vacancy - resulting when a workspace has an assigned occupant, but it lays vacant for a period of time due to mobility, telework, vacation or other activity outside of that assigned workspace.  Assigned Vacancy accounts for about 20% underutilization, whereas Actual Vacancy accounts for over 50% vacancy! I fear that the authors of this bill know of Assigned Vacancy, but may not be explicitly including Actual Vacancy. This possible oversight could dramatically reduce the potential budget cutting power of this bill.

Measurement Method: This is the good news. GSA with AgilQuest has already developed and implemented a method for measuring the Actual Utilization in their own, internal to GSA buildings that can be leverage to comply with H.R. 26121. The method and tool set, called Smart Occupancy, also produces and stores data for both daily and historic performance metrics to fully comply with this provision of the bill.

It is great to see our government taking action to reduce empty, wasted office space. But there is just one aspect of a much larger opportunity, the transformation of when, where and how the federal workforce occupies space and the efficiency of the buildings they use. Smart Occupancy + Smart Building transforms static, assigned workspaces into a network of agile, just-in-need workspaces that can federal reduce real estate costs, energy consumption and CO2 Footprint by 50% while also enhancing employee productivity, commute times and business continuity (COOP). It’s a win for the taxpayers, the government workforce, the transportation infrastructure and our planet’s sustainability.

 

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