Federal prisons require almost $2 billion for modernization and repair, according to a 2022 report. November 13, 2023
K-12 school districts have fought a high-profile battle with deferred maintenance for decades, as have many state, local and federal office buildings. Basically, any organization that relies on taxpayer dollars to fund its maintenance, repair and operations activities has struggled, often publicly, to secure financing. One segment of the facilities market that has been largely left out of such discussions – federal prisons – is getting its moment in the spotlight, and the news is not good.
Congress is poised to spend less next fiscal year on federal prison infrastructure, even as a federal watchdog reported this year that the agency is in dire need and has lowballed maintenance funding requests for years, according to Roll Call. A report from the U.S. Department of Justice’s inspector general featured images of crumbling and worn-out facilities in the federal Bureau of Prisons, a system in which about one-third of the institutions are more than 50 years old.
Federal prisons across the nation need maintenance, and three facilities were in such bad shape that they were fully or partially closed last fall, the inspector general’s office reported in May. Senate appropriators have proposed $209 million for the agency’s building and facilities account in fiscal 2024, while House lawmakers have sought to allocate $273 million in their draft Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill.
Both figures are far short of the almost $2 billion in modernization and repair needs the agency identified in May 2022, according to the inspector general report. The figure also did not include projects less than $300,000.
By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor
Dan Hounsell is senior editor for the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management.