In 1988, the United States Judicial Conference directed the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) to develop a long-range facilities planning process to efficiently and effectively plan, maintain, and build, as required, adequate housing for the Federal Judiciary. Fentress began working with the Space and Facilities Division of the AOUSC as a partner in designing, developing, and implementing the long-range facilities planning process. The results of the process roll up into a national list of prioritized projects, called the Five-Year Courthouse Project Plan.
Fentress developed a facility needs assessment process to evaluate the current condition of and future space demands on federal courthouses. In doing so, Fentress forecasts future workload of each judicial district and circuit, and translates the workload into staffing requirements. The staffing requirements are then combined with space standards to calculate the space needed over the next 30 years in five year increments. Each courthouse was architecturally assessed to determine its current condition and capacity, and its ability to house the amount and type of space needed for the future. Through this process, facility projects were identified to meet court housing needs. These projects were compiled into a national prioritized list, called the Five-Year Courthouse Project Plan. The Five-Year Courthouse Project Plan presents the top priority projects for the US Courts arrayed by year. The priority order is determined through a scoring process that weights functionality, security, building condition, and compliance with design standards into a value that reflects the urgency of need. The projects on the Five-Year Courthouse Project Plan are accompanied by justification statements that support the need for each project and communicate the impact should the project not be funded.
The long-range facilities planning program has been a great partnership between the AOUSC and Fentress. In total, over 800 facilities were assessed in 94 Federal Court circuits and districts. In addition, the Five-Year Courthouse Project Plan has been an effective method for communicating court facility needs. To date, there have been over 70 courthouses funded through the efforts of the program. Since the program began in 1988, the courts have changed from a GSA tenant with a 30% space deficiency and numerous ongoing space crises, to a tenant that is receiving space designed for its operations and expansion needs. In FY 1999, the program won a best practices award for innovation in real property management from GSA. The program is still ongoing today as a vital part of the Courts’ space assessment and needs justification process.