What do Engineers, Scientists and Production Managers need to know about Government Property Management rules?
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This blog posted is contributed by Alex Barenblitt, CPPM, MBA. Alex leads the consulting practice for E-ISG Asset Intelligence on Government Property Management Business Processes
In a science and engineering dominated company, one might think that Engineers, Scientists and Production Managers are the brains behind the innovation, so they don’t need to be concerned about administrative matters such as the Government Property Management. That conclusion, although common, is wrong. If the organization is working on one or more Federal/Defense contracts that use fixed tangible assets (Property) in their work, the innovation brains need to be aware of certain rules about the use of Government Property (GFE and CAP).
Yes, unfortunately, they do need to know the rules of Government Property Management 101.
These rules cover Equipment, Special Tooling, Special Test Equipment and Material. A fundamental concept is that this property belongs to the Federal Government or will belong to the Government when it gets delivered and accepted by the Government. In short, it’s “their stuff”, so the Government gets to make the rules on how, when, where and for what purpose it can be used. Just because it may be on a shelf, or otherwise “available”, doesn’t mean it’s okay to use it for whatever purpose may be needed.
It is common for Engineers, Scientists and Production Managers to be solving problems. For the most part, that’s what they do. The fact is some problems require the use of Property, and not all Property that may be necessary to solve all problems can be perfectly forecasted.
When one takes on a task in a Government contract that requires the use of Government Property, or the acquisition of Property specific to that contract, one provides a request for this Property. But in the course of solving a problem, it is also common to end up with an unforeseen requirement. This can frequently result in a zealous individual working on the problem to “borrow” a needed item that happens to be present. You can walk to the next door to your colleague’s office and “borrow” something. What’s wrong with that?
Unfortunately sometimes the item is not authorized for use on that contract or that purpose. That might seem to be a minor, bureaucratic issue for “someone else” to bother with. But to use Government-Owned Property for a purpose that is not authorized is a major violation of regulation.
So are the rules so rigid that you can’t “borrow”? Actually the rules do allow “borrowing” but require documentation. All that’s necessary is for the Contractor to ask permission to use it for “new” reasonable purpose, and in almost every case, permission is granted. All it takes is to follow a simple process to request permission. And that process is usually very quick.
So it’s important for there to be good communication between those that use Government Property, such as Engineers, Scientists and Production Managers, and those that manage Government Property, as well as with Contracts Managers. That way the wonderful work that the Engineers, Scientists and Production Managers are doing can be done, using Property that’s needed, with permission by the Government.