Relocating offices and workspaces to other, sometimes smaller, accommodations can be frustrating and seem irrational. But there is definitely a rationale behind the series of upcoming moves—to reduce waste. Through a directive from the Department of the Army, White Sands Missile Range is working to reduce the installation’s “Footprint” by finding ways to work more efficiently in fewer buildings.
In order to do so, WSMR’s Chief of Master Planning Division Michael Williams is developing a five-year plan to optimize utilization of WSMR’s administrative facilities.
“Maximizing the use of space reduces the operations and maintenance costs associated with active facilities,” Williams said. “In a period of resource constraints, this non-labor cost savings enables the Army to reprogram funds to higher priorities.”
“Success with this directive will help our installation function efficiently and reduce costs which do not contribute to our mission or quality of life goals,” said WSMR Commander Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin. “This is something that the Army is asking every installation to do. We are collaborating with our experts across the installation to minimize turbulence so that transitions will be as smooth as possible for the workforce.”
Per Coffin’s direction, the WSMR headquarters building is to lead by example. The new guidance will work in line with the current project to stand up the commander’s G-Staff.
“In my mind Building 100 represents the essence of command, as such we should lead from here the changes we are asking for across the installation,” Coffin said.
He encouraged Garrison Commander Col. Brian Michelson and White Sands Test Center Director Frank Chavez to consider the best courses of action that continue a presence and leverage the potential efficiencies from co-locating staff elements. Command Sgt. Maj. William Maddox has dubbed this as part of “Operation Slim Eagle”, which is a deliberate plan in which we divest ourselves of excess equipment, supplies, facilities, procedures, services, etc. which is not necessary to conduct our mission and serve as dead weight as we strive to push forward.
The Department of Public Works created a working group with members from the Garrison and ATEC to identify courses of action that would best address Coffin’s objectives and meet the requirements of the Army’s executive order. The courses of action the working group is considering balance the “Best fit” of functions that need to collaborate, synchronize and integrate on behalf of the commanders with many other considerations, such as physical space and degree of disruption. This plan will be presented to Coffin for decision in late July. Once Coffin provides final guidance, moves will start in the fall and winter time frame.
Williams and his team are looking at the square footage in a list of buildings that were identified across ten Essential Facility Requirements Groups. These facilities are categorized as administrative, general instruction, operations, post vehicle maintenance, childcare and family housing buildings.
Williams said they will be working closely with leadership from Military, Welfare and Recreation and Balfour Beatty for recommendations to assist in reducing the installation’s footprint.
“Building 100 is the lead example of reducing our footprint,” Williams said. “But, we will be looking at all underutilized buildings on post to follow this Army directive.”
The review of facilities extends throughout the entire installation. In the event that a building in good standing has the square footage available to house additional personnel, personnel will be asked to move into the building. Buildings that are to be vacated or are already vacant, and are past their lifecycle may be demolished in order to reduce maintenance and utility costs, Williams said.
The new guidance protects buildings that are classified in condition code “Green”, energy efficient and in good repair, and amber status, needing little to no repair. Structures coded black or red need major renovations. Those coded black are most likely to be demolished.
“We have to take buildings down and we have to remove square footage,” Williams said.
The 2nd Engineer Battalion headquarter complex is classified as a “Green” facility. Williams said there is a plan to have some personnel move into portions of the “Green” buildings that were recently vacated by the battalion. The headquarters building is suitable for administrative work while the remaining buildings are purpose built for specific requirements like vehicle maintenance or food services. Ultimately, the decision on occupancy in these facilities is made by the commanding general.
Because WSMR’s main post is smaller than most installations, Williams said there are certain evaluations that may exclude even more buildings. For example, if an installation the size of WSMR only has one infant and toddler childcare building that is five percent over the square footage of the recommended size, there is no way to get rid of five percent of the building. In cases like those, Williams said a justification will be written to explain the circumstance and retain the building as is.