The County is now able to realize a high level of data integrity, increased productivity and improved space utilization and strategic planning – which leads to improved customer service and better partnerships with our customers.

David L Goodwin, Director of Wake County General Services Administration

Background

General Services Administration (GSA) is the department in Wake County Government that provides Facility Management, Fleet Management, Criminal Justice Support and General Government duties. The department maintains a market business model by benchmarking against published facility costs and performance data compiled by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and Whitestone. The business goal is to provide quality services at or below market costs.

Facilities and Property Overview

Wake County’s General Services Administration (GSA) is responsible for five divisions including Administration (space planning, leases, business & technology), Physical Plant (HVAC, electrical, plumbing), Central Services (reprographics, conference centers, security, and moves), Field Services (grounds, road signs) and Fleet Operations (750 vehicles, parking, fueling systems).

The GSA group manages a building portfolio of over 3.2 million square feet, represented by over 10,000 identified spaces, which houses over 3800 employees on over 5,000 acres of property.

Challenges

As a result of a comprehensive study completed in 1999 to assess the condition of County facilities and better understand space utilization, Wake County developed a facility master plan. Prior to the study, the County used FM:Space – FM:Systems’ departmental workplace management solution – to track space utilization at the group level. Using FM:Space they were able to successfully document the existing properties and space but the County needed an enterprise data solution with an easy-to-use customer interface.

Solution

The master planning process clearly indicated the need to consolidate enterprise data into one solution.

“As an FM:Systems customer since 1993, we realized that the open architecture of FM:Space was the logical place to develop the county’s enterprise data. It did not hurt that FM:Interact had a natural, friendly customer interface.” said Dave Goodwin, Director of Wake County GSA.

Based on these requirements and after an extensive search for a facility management solution, the GSA group implemented FM:Interact, a web-based facility and property management application that allowed them to share property, facility, asset and personnel information via a standard Web browser.

According to Goodwin, “the County is now able to realize a high level of data integrity, increased productivity and improved space utilization and strategic planning – which leads to improved customer service and better partnerships with our customers.”

Results

In the fall of 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States. Wake County, along with hundreds of other local governments across the US was called upon to host Katrina evacuees.

On September 3rd, during Labor Day weekend, Wake County and the City of Raleigh were notified by Federal and State authorities to prepare an evacuation shelter within 24 hours. The challenges were to find and lease an 180,000 square foot building and bring on line critical life safety, mechanical, security and cafeteria systems – in one day. Wake County’s next challenge was to organize critical services in the facility such as FEMA, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Post Office, Social Security, HUD and the Employment Security Commission. All of this was accomplished through community partnerships and, as a result, more than 400 evacuees were admitted to the shelter.

Once the original goal of receiving the evacuees was met, the next challenge was managing the evacuees and the scores of support agencies and volunteers. GSA turned to FM:Interact to organize and convey facility information to both the evacuees and service providers. The facility was divided into three dormitory areas – Blue, Green and Red. Service areas were assigned by service function and room, enabling related service groups to collaborate and all support staff to understand where to go on shift changes.

“Within 36 hours we had a framework for managing the evacuees and all the services they needed. This created a common language around the building that resulted in a very efficient and organized operation. Evacuees knew where they needed to go for services and support,” said Goodwin.

“Next we assigned evacuees to dormitory spaces. As the evacuees transitioned out of the temporary shelter and the evacuee population declined we used FM:Interact to consolidate the remaining evacuees. This reduced the square footage and support required to manage the population and eased the location and connection of evacuees to the service providers they needed.”

Added Goodwin, “we did not change one business process to do this, we just applied what we knew and ‘added a building’ in our existing FM:Systems solution.”

The shelter, initially estimated for three months of operation, was closed in 30 days based on the commitment of the shelter staff and the efficiencies gained with FM:Interact.

Kelli Braunbach, of Wake County GSA, was a leader in this effort. According to Braunbach, “FM Interact enabled us to streamline the operations of the facility and to give the evacuees a one-stop shop for the basic essentials of life. That was the best gift we could have given them.”