Estimating the Restoration and Modernization Costs of Infrastructure and Facilities
Maintaining and recapitalizing facilities require substantial expenditures by
virtually all public and private organizations. In the U.S. these expenditures amounted to
$192 billion in 1992, or roughly 40% of total construction-related activity. While
considerable, these expenditures are widely regarded as insufficient to maintain the
productive capacity of the nation’s facilities and infrastructure.1 Part of the problem is
political: maintenance activities rarely have the same cachet as ribbon-cutting
celebrations for new construction. But some part of underfunding must be attributed to
the limited estimation tools available to facilities planners. Without credible empirical
support it is difficult to make a case for the required funds.
Currently, there is no agreement even on defining maintenance and
recapitalization activities, much less the appropriate tools for estimation. Plannersare
forced to rely on historical trends or ad hoc methods for approximating maintenance and
repair requirements, especially for organizations with extensive facility holdings that
preclude regular condition assessment inspections.
The Department of Defense (DoD), one of the world’s largest property owners,
provides a prominent example of the problem. Differences in methodologies, measures,
and accounting procedures make comparison across military services difficult, and make
Department-wide summations hard to calculate in a meaningful way. The result is
uncertainty at the congressional level regarding actual facility funding requirements. As
the General Accounting Office (1999) concluded:
Given incomplete and inconsistent data, and different RPM [real property
maintenance] rating systems among the services, the Congress cannot be
assured that it is funding maintenance and repairs that will provide the best
return on its investment. (p. 2)
In response to this [continua]

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