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FEB Functions Consolidated with NIH

By NIEHS
April 2005

Many functions under the Facilities Engineering Branch at NIEHS merged with NIH at the start of the federal government's 2005 fiscal year. The consolidation follows similar action that merged the Human Resources Management Branch and the Equal Employment Office at NIEHS with their counterparts at NIH.

Since NIEHS is the only NIH institute not physically located on the NIH campus in Bethesda, there are some functions - such as security - that will remain at NIEHS.

Another aspect that makes NIEHS different than other institutes and centers is the infrastructure that it shares with the Environmental Protection Agency. The original master plan for the NIEHS and EPA parcel in Research Triangle Park was developed in the 1970s. The master plan included a central utility plant for the entire parcel. Unlike most federal properties, which are owned or leased by the GSA, the NIEHS and EPA parcel was transferred directly to the federal government.

The parcel originally contained five sites deemed suitable for building. The main NIEHS buildings A through F are one site, Building 102 is another site, the main EPA building is the third, the EPA computer center and new daycare center, which is currently under construction, sit on the fourth site, and the last one contains the NIEHS ballpark.

Mitch Williams, security and operations program director in the NIEHS Office of Management, still runs some of what used to be the NIEHS Facility Engineering Branch. Some functions in that former FEB are now under the NIH Office of Research Facilities, while others remain at NIEHS.

Until recently, the NIEHS FEB operated rather independently of NIH, but NIEHS lacked construction authority. Most FEB funding came from NIEHS, Williams said. In fiscal year 2003, NIEHS FEB functions came under A-76 review. The solicitation resulted in a determination that the government was the most efficient operation, but that finding was challenged and more changes could come later, he said.

Under the NIH consolidation, most FEB staff transferred into NIH staff positions. The NIEHS is coordinating with the NIH on procedures for emergency planning and response and physical security that are now in effect for the NIEHS campus, Williams said. That means there are also more NIH resources to draw from to meet the additional requirements, he said.

Employees of NIEHS and EPA have a number of advantages under the arrangement: they can use each other's secure entrance gates, use the dining facilities, and attend employee enrichment programs on both campuses. NIEHS and EPA share the man-made lake and walking trails that separate the two facilities and they have a joint daycare center. EPA paid for expansion of the physical plant to accommodate the additional structures they constructed on the site, and NIEHS and EPA share operation costs. The two agencies also share incineration and waste-handling facilities.

Williams said there are financial incentives for the arrangement that benefit both agencies. They do not need to duplicate equipment, they can have a single contract between the two agencies to operate the utility plant, and reduced fuel consumption. The bottom line, he said, is there is more money left for research.



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