Equipment management is a specific branch of resource management within the operations of the Emergency Management framework and the Total Community that we are supporting to prepare for or recover from any incident. To gain a clearer understanding of this field it must be viewed from the context of managing critical resources. A brief overview should help establish the position of equipment management within the broader resource management arena.
Why is Equipment Management Really Resource Management?
Resource management is the art and science of managing the three primary resources critical to the success of the recovery of the total community comprising of most enterprises: people, money, and required equipment resources needed to restore normal functioning of the community.
Equipment management refers to all of the knowledge, skills, processes, and systems directly related to the management and administration of this third resource throughout its life cycle, from initial acquisition to final disposition. It includes capital assets as well as real and personal property, both tangible and intangible, when used across the broad spectrum of public and private requirements for preparation and recovery. These include federal, state, and local government agencies; medical facilities; universities; and commercial, industrial, service and faith-based organizations comprising the constituent total community. It includes all types of equipment—both capital and expense—that are considered critical to the successful recovery of the community.
Equipment management and administration is a field bound by legal, regulatory, financial, and contractual requirements, and is governed by a variety of both practical applications and ethical principles and considerations. Formed in 2000, ASTM Committee E53 documents and codifies the best processes, practices, tools, techniques, measurements, and systems as standards of performance in the field of equipment management and administration.
What are the items that are recorded, controlled, managed, reported, and administered by equipment management professionals? Mostly they are the assets required by an organization to perform or support its primary mission. These include items that are purchased, fabricated, borrowed and/or leased, and which are used by the total community to achieve recovery from an incident.
The Department of Homeland Security has further classified property into two types and five major categories. The two general types are “critical infrastructure” and “personal.” Critical Infrastructure property refers to real estate: roads, bridges, and permanently installed essential structures such as sewers, pipelines, electrical grid, etc. Personal equipment addresses everything else that doesn’t meet the definition of critical infrastructure.
The five classes of DHS (as defined by the Federal Acquisition Regulations) personal equipment are 1) agency peculiar property (items designed and produced specifically for a particular agency of the government), 2) facilities (generally commercially available equipment, but may include real property), 3) material, 4) special test equipment, and 5) special tooling. While companies doing business with DHS are very familiar with these classifications, those outside the government contract community have little familiarity with them. FEMA has produced the authorized equipment list classification for equipment purchased under FEMA Preparedness Grants (https://www.rkb.us/mel.cfm?subtypeid=549) and this list is used to classify equipment purchased under the variety of funding programs. This equipment is covered under category 3 of the general equipment classification.
The Few Government Standards Are Not Enough
Within the federal government, interest in the management and administration of the publicly funded property under its control is well documented.
The National Aeronautic and Space Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy all have well-defined property management guidelines and performance criteria. As good as these performance standards are, they have limited application in the commercial world. Government agencies have the stewardship responsibilities for all of the property purchased with public funds. The Federal Acquisition Regulations and supplements that are the basis of the government’s property criteria require equal treatment for a washer valued at $0.001 and a special test set valued at $1 million. These regulatory requirements are grounded in public law and, although effective, they may not be cost efficient.
As mature as these government systems are, there has been significant increase in interest—and in some cases alarm—over the need to drastically improve them. Congress, through committees and legislation, has also expressed its concern, principally in terms of the accuracy of reports regarding government property and the accuracy of the financial reports of all property owned by the federal government. Similar regulatory changes have been enacted affecting state governments, universities, and even hospitals. A testimony to the complexity of managing the third resource can be found in the government’s seven-year struggle to obtain approval for a much needed new government property regulation.
Over the past year, there has been significant criticism of the UASI programs and this criticism has resulted in reduced budgets and reduced effectiveness of this program. My vision has been to prove the effectiveness of this valuable resource by providing industry standard equipment management processes and metrics, and the resulting performance criteria will speak for itself and provide the needed measurement criteria that the UASI program needs right now. With the requirement of equipment sharing and better resource management, the stakes for having good equipment management processes are high. I would love to hear your comments, and you can reach me via my email or linked in.