The Indian Health Service (IHS) is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. The IHS plans and manages the construction of health care facilities for Native American and Alaskan Natives populations across the nation. As part of the planning process, IHS must estimate and track construction costs for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects annually. The tool used to do this is the IHS Facilities Budgeting Estimating System (FBE System). The FBE System allows IHS estimators to prepare cost estimates based on nationally published cost data using an estimating methodology that is unique to the IHS.
The typical estimating project begins by entering data from a project specific planning document called a Program of Requirements. For health care projects, the area of each medical department is entered separately to account for cost differences to construct these spaces. Following area entry, the estimator chooses a project location from a list of over 400 and enters project information on 9 separate estimating screens arranged in tabs. The program includes separate entry screens for equipment, site costs, design costs, scheduling and construction administration, and taxes/funding.
The system is set up to allow estimates at different levels of detail and at different stages of planning. IHS projects are estimated before physical design begins, and sometimes before a site is selected. By incorporating default costs, yes/no checkboxes, and clickable pop-up screens for quick data entry, an early budget estimate can be completed quickly, even for a complex project. The estimate can be refined later as more detailed information becomes available.
Cost data is taken from industry standard publications (such as the R. S. Means company) and escalated twice within the system. The first escalation factor brings published cost data up to date with the estimate date for the project. The second factor escalates project costs from the date of the estimate to the mid-point of construction to account for cost increases that will occur before the project is completed. All costs, project locations, and escalation factors within the system are updated annually.
Unlike generic cost estimating software designed for use by the widest possible user base, the estimating methodology behind the FBE System is specifically designed to model the way IHS plans and procures construction projects. The system includes business rules and cost groups unique to IHS projects. Examples include tribal fees, tribal taxes, cultural art, and phased funding.
In conjunction with the development of the new Health Systems Planning (HSP) system, the IHS is currently upgrading the FBE System to function as an integrated module of the HSP system. The latest version will allow improved integration with other IHS systems, better data handling and analysis, historical cost tracking, increased ease of use, and increased flexibility in accommodating new business rules and add-on modules.
Key features of the FBE System are:
- Simple, forms driven user interface
- On-line context sensitive help
- Fifteen year cost escalation capability
- Over 400 project locations with the ability to add as many as required
- Historical cost tracking
- Annual cost updates
- Reporting and data analysis
- Simplified schedule projection
Anyone interested in further information on this program can contact Gerald Inglett of IHS, Engineering Services-Dallas, at (214) 767-3898 or firstname.lastname@example.org.