Facilities Improves Work Control System, Targets Better Service

Posted: August 30, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Editor’s Note: This is the last feature story of a four-article series exploring services that received low ratings on the support services survey conducted last fall, and reporting how those services have improved since that time.

By Jeremy Lasich

Although slow responses to work control requests have been an irritation for some university employees in the past, the Physical Plant and the Facilities Office is working to alleviate these frustrations. With the implementation of a new automated work control system, the hundreds of requests received are being handled in a more timely fashion, and employees are able to track their orders with ease.

“We have set up a computerized management system, which allows for quick documentation of trouble calls, and we respond to those calls with an e-mail letting that person know what department is handling the problem and how long it will take,” says Glenn Cyphers, director of the Physical Plant. “Emergency calls, such as toilets flooding, are usually handled immediately. We try to get to all calls, but with a limited staff it’s hard to reach our goal of responding to all inquiries within two days.”

Reid Herlihy, vice president of Facilities, is also trying to improve several functions within the Facilities Office, including controlling the HVAC units in each building from within the Physical Plant using a laptop computer. All of the newer buildings at George Mason, and some of the older ones, are equipped with a small computer that controls the temperature, fans, pumps, and compressors, and these computers can be adjusted with a flick of a switch at the Physical Plant.

“If somebody calls our office reporting that the temperature is uncomfortable in their meeting, we can fix often that within five minutes without leaving the office,” says Herlihy, who adds that the new system also saves manpower. “These technological advancements allow us to automatically adjust room temperatures overnight to save energy and have fundamentally changed the way we operate our buildings.”

Herlihy also play a major role in the construction of new buildings at all three campuses. Although it is impossible to get input from everybody at the university on the structure and design of new buildings, Herlihy notes they do seek input from key administrators and others who will occupy the building. In fact, the input they received from current students on the new 500-bed housing facility to be built by 2003 changed the mix of dorm rooms to be included.

“To be honest, I think we do a wonderful job overall, especially with the last five or six buildings we have constructed,” says Herlihy citing the Freedom Center in Prince William, the Aquatic and Fitness Center, the Law School in Arlington, the Johnson Center, and Enterprise Hall. “One of the things we do best is deliver buildings that do what the university needs them to do. These buildings by themselves may persuade incoming freshmen to attend George Mason because they are state-of-the-art facilities.”

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