Implementation of the Property Asset Management Delivery Plan‘Accommodating Change – Measuring Success’,
the Government’s Property Asset Management Delivery Plan, was published in July 2013 with the key objective to “manage the Public Service property portfolio in a professional, co-ordinated and efficient manner that maximises value for money and facilitates business needs and service provision”.
The Plan reflects that the strategic approach to the management of State property requires all State property holders to view public property from a ‘State’ perspective rather than individual ownership. The Office of Public Works (OPW) is leading these changes across the Public Service and progress is overseen by a cross-sectoral Steering Group.
2015 saw the publication of the first progress report on the Plan, which sets out the main areas of progress during its first two years. These include the formation of the high level Property Asset Management Steering Group, population of data on the State Property Register, improved processes for intrastate property transactions, the adoption of ISEN 15221 Standard for Facilities Management and improved management of the Civil Service estate.
State Property Register
The Intra Public Service State Property Register is an online map-based register which was developed by the OPW and is available to all Public Service Bodies. The Register is facilitating a more strategic approach to property based solutions on a State-wide basis. Significant progress has been made and there are now over 26,000 properties registered on the State Property Register.
Streamlining Property Transactions
Collaborative approaches to the use of State property include the identification of opportunities for different State organisations to share office accommodation and to transact with each other as their accommodation needs change. During 2015, this collaborative approach was illustrated by the completion of the Intreo programme for the Department of Social Protection, when public bodies shared property to ensure the optimum result for this important reform initiative.
Protocols on intra-State property asset transfer and sharing have been finalised. These protocols simplify the processes for organisations and include the principle of single, independent valuations on intra-State transfers and more streamlined administrative and legal processes. There has been increased activity in the area of intra-State transfers using the protocols. Co-ordinated policies for property disposal and acquisition are also currently being finalised by the Steering Group. All of these measures will significantly help reduce property transaction costs.
ISEN 15221 Standard for Facilities Management
A common language, the ISEN 15221 Standard for Facilities Management, has been introduced to a number of properties in the OPW portfolio. This is a European standard that provides a framework for measuring and analysing the space usage in buildings. The standard will support the collection of the data needed to produce management information and key performance indicators for office accommodation. The data will be used to compare and benchmark the performance of similar property types in the State portfolio with a view to identifying opportunities for space efficiencies and will also feed into the Office of Government Procurement Facilities Management Frameworks.
The Property Managers’ Network was established during 2014 and provides a forum for property managers across the Civil and Public Service to share experience and expertise, as well as opportunities for shared approaches to property solutions. The network membership has been established on a regional basis. A number of information workshops were held during 2014 and 2015 and there are further events planned for 2016.
As part of the property reform programme, the Steering Group has emphasised the importance of ensuring that all properties owned by the State are registered accordingly with the Property Registration Authority. To this effect, the OPW, amongst others, has commenced an active programme of registering properties.
Building Expertise and Capacity
To ensure that State property is managed efficiently, it is recognised that staff must be suitably skilled. An intra State training and development programme is currently being developed to enhance the competencies, skills and expertise of personnel working in the public property asset management area. In 2015, the OPW hosted a two-day pilot course on property-related Option Appraisal and a further course is planned to take place in May 2016. In 2015, a pilot training course on property-related VAT was held for OPW staff.
Better Management of the Civil Service Estate
Through rationalisation of the Civil Service Estate, around €41 million in annual rental savings has been achieved from 2008 to 2015. The OPW has practically completed the Office Accommodation Design Standards for Civil Service accommodation, which is in line with a move to provide more flexible work spaces to meet changing demands.
The OPW is continuing to rationalise its owned portfolio through its property disposal programme. In 2014, 74 state properties were disposed of or reassigned for alternative State or Community use. The proceeds received in 2014 from the sale of 20 of these state properties was €3.66 million. A further 29 state properties were disposed of during 2015 and the proceeds received from these sales was almost €3.6 million. It is expected that a further 40 state properties will be brought to market in 2016.
Other property holders that have realised savings through property rationalisation include the Department of Defence, which sold 22 of its properties at a total value of €3.5 million in 2014. In 2015, the disposal of surplus military properties continued and approximately a further 10 military properties were sold to a value of €1.9 million.
Making more efficient use of existing office space has generated significant savings in the OPW’s annual rent bill since 2009. The value of savings delivered under the lease rationalisation and re-negotiation programme from 2009 to 2015 was €150 million approximately and it has yielded a surrender of over 1.4 million square feet of office accommodation, giving substantial ongoing annual savings.
The “Optimising Power @ Work - Public Sector Campaign” is progressing well, with over 30 public bodies now participating in the campaign (5 large hospitals, 2 Universities, 3 Institutes of Technology, 13 Local Authorities, 2 Prisons and various HSE Estates buildings). The total energy spend in the buildings currently participating in the programme is approximately €28 million per annum. The OPW is now working with the HSE National Sustainability Office to coordinate the roll out of the campaign into additional large acute care hospitals, with annual energy savings targets of 8% in Year 1, rising to 18% in Year 3.
In relation to its own property portfolio, the OPW is currently achieving savings of approximately 22% through its Optimising Power @ Work campaign. The total annual energy spend for these buildings is currently in the order of €22 million per annum (net of savings). The current annual savings are €5.14 million per annum.