|Maintenance services provided by contract workers on an as-needed basis can provide much needed assistance to correctional facilities working within a tight or downsized budget. By reducing, but not eliminating, a fulltime maintenance staff and privatizing maintenance where possible—especially outside the secure perimeter—facilities can reduce expenses while also controlling security risks. Security concerns are always an issue whenever outside personnel are allowed repeated access to high-security areas; the danger of contraband entering the facility increases, as does the possibility of inmates gaining access to workmen’s tools and equipment. In order to take advantage of privatization, facilities need to make it possible to perform more maintenance tasks outside of secure areas. However, we recommend that facilities retain at least one in-house maintenance staff member for handling routine tasks.|
|Designing Around Security Challenges|
No matter how desirable maintenance outsourcing may be, it cannot be allowed to compromise security. In many older facilities, where the exterior wall of the building is the boundary of the secure area, there is simply no way to avoid potential contact between inmates and contract maintenance personnel. However, for facilities still on the drawing board, there is much that can be done to reduce or eliminate workers entering secure areas.
One of the most effective strategies is to locate heating, ventilation, and air condition ductwork, as well as plumbing systems, in an exterior plumbing chase located outside secure areas. Since the periodic maintenance and repair of today’s sophisticated mechanical equipment is almost always performed by trained specialists, a proper
facility design places equipment in an outside mechanical room where boilers, air handlers, water heaters, and the like can be serviced by contract workers without jeopardizing security.
A plumbing chase design that makes contract maintenance more practical involves placing plumbing fixtures on the back wall of cells and creating a walkway or passage that runs behind the cell walls. Contract maintenance people can deal with the most routine maintenance and plumbing needs without entering the cells or secure area.
The same design allows access to HVAC ductwork.
Privatizing the maintenance of HVAC and plumbing components within an existing
facility is usually difficult because equipment is generally located within a secure area. When it is time to replace major components, plans should include the relocation of equipment to a new mechanical room constructed outside the secure area. New designs have the plumbing chase run around the exterior of the cells but within the building envelope, offering easy access to nearly all HVAC ductwork, power, plumbing
equipment, water lines, ducts and pipes. Unfortunately, nothing nearly this efficient
and this accommodating can be achieved with preexisting facilities.
|Security Systems Maintenance Within the Secure Perimeter|
The reality is that almost every correctional facility has its own unique combination of security system components, probably acquired piecemeal as needs changed, funding increased and better technology became available.
Even in the best-designed facilities, closed circuit TVs, locking systems, consoles,
duress alarms, and related components must be maintained where the equipment is needed—within the secured area.
As this equipment becomes increasingly complex, the need for specialized outside maintenance becomes more pronounced, requiring rigid security procedures when within secure areas.
However, by specifying the installation of or upgrading to equipment that requires a minimum of maintenance during its scheduled lifecycle, facility managers can decrease the frequency of visits from private maintenance personnel. Asking manufacturers to specify off-the-shelf components and systems that do not require special tools reduces the number of visits from outside personnel and reduces security risks.
|Maintenance Outsourcing Moves Inside|
Outsourcing maintenance services is an established trend in almost facilities market, but it is still relatively uncommon in corrections. criminal justice officials fear the security headaches of having outside personnel bringing tools into their facilities, while others worry that response times for emergency repairs would be dangerously slow.
Nevertheless, a market for privatized maintenance in corrections does exist. One of the largest state correctional organization to solicit a contractor for maintenance services is the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, currently outsourcing 25 facilities. While the new program’s preliminary cost evaluations indicate maintenance costs are up slightly, DJJ officials say they are meeting their goals. Less corrective maintenance is required, and a new emphasis on preventative maintenance is now possible.
A small field of firms contract correctional maintenance services. The Berger Group provides maintenance management for buildings used by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, serving nine detainee processing centers with capacity to hold 4,000 illegal aliens. Aramark, long the leader in uniform and food contracts, entered the correctional maintenance field in 1996 when it purchased the assets of market
forerunner, Diversified Facility Services. Aramark currently has operations in 18 countries around the world, and serves in countries that represent nearly 70 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product.
The Georgia DJJ issued a request for proposals to have a contractor set up a computerized maintenance system, in addition to supporting DJJ staff with administration and service. Winning that contract was CGL Engineering, a division of Carter Goble Lee LLC, which also runs an architecture practice and one of the nation’s leading justice programming firms, Carter Goble Associates.
CGL Principal Joe Lee was founder of Diversified Facility Services and later became president of Aramark Correctional Facilities. Working with CGL Engineering President Dexter Stanphill, a former engineering director for the Georgia DOC, Lee now provides the services of highly-trained engineers, as well as low-skill labor, such as groundskeeping crews, targeting bids where contractors’ qualifications are as important as bid price.
To those who associate outsourcing with unacceptable delays, Lee says the company’s response times to DJJ work orders average between 30 and 45 minutes after contacting the call center in Fayetteville, N.C. “Between 60 and 80 percent of the time, we can solve the issue over the phone,” Lee says. The Web-based, computerized maintenance management system further shortens response time by allowing DJJ staff to enter work orders and track their status via the Internet.
But with so many security concerns unique to corrections, can outside personnel be trusted to work safely in this environment? Joe Lee says CGLEngineering takes pains to provide the proper training, which includes full protocols for tool checks. “How our staff interacts with youth or inmates has to be on a professional level,” he says. “We work through every scenario with the user. Our staff is an extension of their staff. Then they can concentrate on their core business, which is managing inmates.”
David Clark, director of the DJJ’s engineering and construction, says his department now has the service consistency it sought, and that there’s been substantial improvement in quality of repair for technically advanced systems, such as fire alarms, HVAC controls, and locking control systems. In addition, the locks themselves are no longer a problem, partially because the maintenance has improved, but also because the inmates in the facility are better supervised. Technical
expertise can make a difference, as when CGL engineers devised a way to keep locks from being engaged when a door is open, which gave inmates an opportunity to
damage the units.
A computerized maintenance management system can make it easier to monitor
trouble spots. “We see varying amounts of vandalism, and we had no way of tracking it. Now when we see vandalism maintenance going up at a particular location, we can investigate and deal with it.”
Another critical step was being specific in their contract, a one-year contract with an option for a fouryear renewal, says Clark. The contract is geared toward circumventing bureaucratic delays. For example, if an air conditioning system needs a new compressor, the state procurement system would require officials to obtain an emergency procurement authorization and a bidding process. Now, the contractor can respond
quicker by finding a subcontractor who provides those services and seal the deal with negotiation.
“It helps you work within a legal contracting instrument to overcome the bureaucratic problems you have within a government procurement system,” says Clark. “The contractor also has the advantage of being able to hire qualified people and, when necessary, to help them move on.” In addition, Clark has seen a reduced number of equipment breakdowns, which he attributes to a contract requirement for a prescribed level of preventative maintenance, which has the potential to reduce costs over the course of CGL’s contract.
|Prevent access to the facility for maintenance workers for increased safety and security |
|When planning a facility, place heating and plumbing systems outside |
|Work with contract workers on an as-needed basis to cut costs and |
|Train outside personnel, especially in tool checks, to handle |
|Bypass cumbersome emergency procurement processes by finding and negotiating with qualified subcontractors for new or replacement equipment.|