A Roadmap to Better Agency Planning: A Case Study in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Great Plains Regional Office Division of Facilities Pilot Project
Langley, Mathew Ian
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In Spring of 2016, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Great Plains Regional Office Division of Facilities (GPRO DoF) initiated a pilot project to develop a facilities master plan with an agency location. The intent was to prepare and experiment with long term planning to remedy the problem of severely deteriorated employee housing units that exists as a national issue with many BIA agency structures. The average age of housing for employees at the pilot project location was 72 years old, many with health hazards such as lead, asbestos, mold and radon issues to varying degrees of severity. The issues have been identified in a Department of the Interior, Inspector General Report that was made publicly available in September 2016, showing problems with communication, collaboration and maintenance as interconnected. I was the volunteer intern Junior Program Analyst put in charge of the pilot project in June 2016, tasked with developing the planning document and the process that would create it. Through the three months I worked as a volunteer intern, I developed this new method in collaboration with the GPRO DoF, BIA local Agency, Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), and the local Office of Justice Services (OJS). The resulting process was a translation of a small town master planning process, shifting the perspective of the location from just an agency with staff and structures to be managed to that of a community comprised of local experts. This planning model based itself upon four key points; • Communities are comprised of local experts that are more knowledgeable about their community strengths and weaknesses than others • Collaboration and two-way communication strengthens all stakeholders and leads to long term improvements • Community development and improvement increases employee retention • The planning process develops long term planning that is aware of the abilities and limitations present in a community, and capital improvement plans are thus more effectively created to reflect what is reasonable for the unique situation present at that community. The planning process developed through the pilot project has the potential to create long term improvements to agency locations and reconnect the various stakeholders through improved collaboration and communication, but it has its own limitations as well. The effort requires a full-time planner to develop and continually manage the plans, especially as new ones are developed and existing ones are implemented. It is critical to have this position, as the individual not only creates the plans but monitors the progress of plan alignment, maintains as the point of contact for stakeholders and facilitates the plan development and revision processes. Once established and each location has a plan, the development of a Regional Master Plan should be developed, providing an overview based on the community master plans and RO goals and assessments.
- Urban planning